05/08/20 Governor Busuito's Response To President Wilson's recent message

Dear Colleagues:

I appreciate President M. Roy Wilson’s thanking me for extending the discussion of issues between Board of Governors’ members and him in his most recent message to the Faculty and Academic Staff. The issues are important to the University.

The conflict at the top level of the University has contributed to a loss of confidence in the President and the Board among the members of the Faculty and Academic Staff. Only 29% had strong confidence (11%) or confidence (18%) in the President, while 41% had little confidence (20%) or very little confidence (21%) in him with 30% having no opinion. The AAA survey found comparably low levels of confidence in the Board of Governors. (AAA Report, Ques.1f and 1g, pp. 15 and 16)

The turmoil at the top levels of the University, budget cuts, and questionable leadership decisions have taken their toll on the morale on the Faculty and Academic Staff. When asked how they would assess the morale of the members of their unit or department, the AAA survey found that one-half (50%) said that it was either low (32%) or very low (18%), and only 19% said that it was either high (16%) or very high (3%). (AAA Report, Ques. 9, p. 52) When the survey asked whether or not the members’ morale had improved or gotten worse over the past five years (roughly the term of President Wilson), 54% said that it had gotten either worse (36%) or much worse (18%), while about one-third (32%) said that it was about the same. Those saying that morale had either improved (11%) or very much improved (3%) only totaled 14 %. (AAA Report, Ques. 10, p. 53)

When asked specifically about the contribution of President Wilson’s manager of health and medical affairs to the School of Medicine “Three-quarters of the applicable respondents rate Mr. David Hefner’s contribution to the development of the School of Medicine as negative or very negative. In fact, more than half (53%) rated his contribution as very negative.” (AAA Report, Ques. 6a, p. 46)

The picture that emerges is that leadership of Wayne State University leaves much to be desired in the view of the Faculty and Academic Staff. These survey results will be explored in the future and put into a broader context. But for now, I have been asked to forward Governor Busuito’s response to the President’s recent message to the members of our Bargaining unit. It follows below.

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May 7, 2020

Dear Professor Parrish,

Please find attached my response to President Wilson’s message sent out to the WSU community on May 6, 2020. I again challenge him on the facts, and his message appears only to distract from, as opposed to clarify, the real issues that I raised at the BOG meeting of May 1, 2020.

Medical School Tuition

I believe that the vote to approve tuition was based upon incorrect information presented to the BOG during its budget and finance committee meeting on May 1, 2020. They were told that 35% of our medical students leave WSU without debt, and the remainder of students leave with an average debt of only $100 thousand at graduation. Many medical students have indicated that these numbers are erroneous. They tell me that the numbers are closer to 8-10% without debt (meaning 90% plus have debt) with an average of $200 thousand in debt, NOT counting their undergraduate debt. Placing more debt burden on our students at this time when so many people have economic challenges is just wrong; especially when we have another source of funding (PEPPAP dollars) that could be used to protect our students from a tuition raise.

Racial Disparities and Enrollment

I used the Wayne State University Fact Book data for the period of President Wilson’s tenure. My specific concern was a drop in African-American enrollment to WSU by 32% under the tenure of President Wilson.

PEPPAP Funds

PEPPAP are acquired through Medicaid Claims generated by WSU faculty and affiliated groups. This is clinical revenue generated due to WSU faculty providing care to the underserved in the Detroit metropolitan area. This money is intended to reimburse care providers who do not otherwise receive payment from patients or insurance providers. These PEPPAP monies have been diverted to WSU accounts under David Hefner and Rebecca Cooke. These funds are now approximately 80 million dollars and their diversion from the care providers who earned them is currently before the courts. Hoarding this money, if legally diverted as this administration claims, is a disservice to medical school students, the faculty and the university at large. The faculty generated dollars should be retained by the physicians generating the dollars. This was the intent of PEPPAP. This was the point I raised in my letter to you.

Bottom line is that the purpose of PEPPAP is to “increase access to health care by boosting the pay of physicians who work in poor or underserved areas.” How is it not stealing from the physicians when they provide the care and then WSU takes WSUSOM faculty money so that WSU will not “be viewed negatively by the crediting agencies?” WSU takes the money of the physicians and then criticizes them for being a financial burden. This is wrong. WSU is now punishing our front line COVID-19 responders, our physicians, staff and students, by cutting salaries and raising student tuition after taking their generated funds. I say that the handling of the PEPPAP dollars has defeated their purpose of increasing access of health care to the poor. Questions posed to this administration regarding these issues are integral to the future of WSU. This administration chooses to attack BOG members who pose important questions regarding the stockpiling of the PEPPAP funds. In May, 2019, MDHHS reported that “it is not the state’s role to get involved with a dispute between a public entity and one of its subcontractors.” They went on to say that they “would be happy to review the results of any independent audit of Wayne State University’s administration of the PEPPAP program, should they choose to pursue such a formal review.” [source: Crains Detroit Business 4/16/2019 and 5/9/2019] Quit pretending that there is an impending state audit and proceed with a forensic accounting, as none has ever been presented to the Board.

Higher Learning Commission

Michigan’s three largest universities: WSU, MSU & U of M have boards that are elected by the people of Michigan. The purpose of university boards is to provide oversight representing the people of Michigan by sound fiscal policy. Our only employee is the president of the university. Those of us who ask questions about the President’s actions have been attacked by the President and his team. Asking questions of the President is our job. We are elected by the people of Michigan to oversee the use of university monies. To suggest BOG members should “resign for not supporting the President” indicates that there should be no oversight of the President and WSU funds. It is also inconsistent with the State Constitution and the bylaws of the University. This board must not act as a rubber stamp for President Wilson’s initiatives. There must be University oversight for his questionable financial practices. This is not a monarchy. We will continue to ask questions and demand a forensic audit.

Michael J. Busuito, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Member, WSU Board of Governors

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Stay well, stay safe and enjoy the weekend!

Charlie

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Charles J. ParrishPresident, AAUP-AFT, Local 6075, WSU ChapterVice President-at-Large, AFT MichiganPresident, AAUP Michigan ConferenceMember-at-Large, National Council, AAUP5057 Woodward Avenue, Suite 3301Detroit, MI 48202313.577.1750