(A very former Dean of Student Affairs and Provost Marshal)
As a former, dissatisfied, employee anything I have to say is by all means biased. However, I join with the numerous others speaking out to try and bring some order to chaos.
It has often seemed odd to me that colleges and universities will teach business, and yet, not actively apply what they teach to their students. Any suggestions that KIMEP is a well run business lacks a basic knowledge of the principles of business. For example - turnover to retention ratio, the number of employees retained vs. those that have left. How many Deans (Academic & Student Affairs) have come and gone in the last seven years? It was stated that the administration has highly qualified people from the best universities - okay, publish the credentials of the administration! Let's have a look and let's check the veracity of the information.
Dr. Rahman, truly a power to be reckoned with, states that the reason many professors, and we can include administration, have left KIMEP is due to poor cross-cultural adaptation skills. At the successful conclusion of a position with an organization in Almaty, I wrote a short text / workbook requested by local professors I knew. This work was on organizational behavior, and was called "Change the Environment - Change the Behavior". Cross-culture issues formed a strong foundation for this text. While adaptation skills do play a significant role in expat failure I can say that from both a professional and personal basis that it is NOT the predominant factor at KIMEP. The real factor involved is precisely what has been previously indicated - intimidation, poor management, misrepresentation and a heavy dose of "office politics"!
It is easy to claim transparency in all matters at KIMEP. They sure do play fast and lose with that one. During my brief tenure as Dean and a member of the executive committee I witnessed many astonishing things. How about that bid process with outside vendors for starters.
The new student / faculty cafeteria needed to be staffed and a call for bids was made. At one of several meetings of the executive committee on this topic Dr. Bang suddenly walked in. As a "member" of the committee he had every right to come - yet it was interesting as he never made an appearance while I was at KIMEP, only this one as I remember. Leadership of the committee was always with Dr. Rahman. On this occasion Bang wished to make his views known about the qualifications of the management for this new venture. He made the direct statement that in his view "only an MBA" would be appropriate to run the operation. Several bids were on the table. Of them only one offered a manager with an MBA, the bid from USKO. At the time, one Mr. Kambarov was the Director of Administration. After this meeting, in his zeal to score points with Dr. Bang, he wrote a letter immediately giving the contract to USKO. I was presented with this letter and was asked to sign, of course I refused. The next day another meeting was held. Dr Biyalov, the only other who had refused, suggested - to his credit - that the two top bidders be given a chance to propose a time frame upon which they could make their proposal operational. This showed a little more ethical practice to me and for my part agreed to his suggestion. USKO came back fast on the request and got the contract.
The point is that while the process does have the appearance of transparency what happens behind closed doors exerts a strange influence on the outcome. In my time there I could see no evidence of sustained or significant existence of other vendors besides USKO. For heavens sake, even the damned clocks on the walls have the USKO logo!!
KIMEP claims to have an "American" style of education. Having USKO so prominently represented in KIMEP constitutes a conflict of interest for Dr. Bang, administratively, financially and most certainly ethically! I thought American business methods shied away from a conflict of interest for its executive and managerial staff? So, how does ANY contract awarded to USKO not constitute a conflict of interest?
(Please see: http://www.research.vt.edu/conflict/Conflict_of_Interest.doc)
Oh, I'm sorry - this is Kazakhstan and U.S. business concepts, rules and regulations have no jurisdiction. Sorry, just way out of my league here I guess.
To those that passionately wish to see changes at KIMEP, I agree that only hard evidence can suffice. While the idea of an independent committee to investigate is good, you must also be extraordinarily cautious. My observation is that they do very well at covering tracks when they know who shall come and when. Hence, I believe, the gracious invitation by Bang for anyone to visit and see first hand the glory of KIMEP, or if I may say "Y'all come back now hear? - take your shoes off and set a spell".
Whenever there was a threat to public, funding source or government perceptions of KIMEP the executive committee wasted no time or effort to issue orders to staff for the purpose of creating a positive impression. The administration is especially paranoid of faculty and staff that "hurt" KIMEP through a "lack of loyalty". In one instance they froze the bank account of a teacher that quit in the middle of a semester (for health and dissatisfaction issues). She wrote often seeking her money, but they would not allow her any access to the account. I personally stepped in and made a little arrangement with someone to have a friend of the teacher in Almaty get to the bank and with a few hours window of opportunity, grab the cash before the bank "refreezes" the account. At KIMEP one becomes "creative" out of necessity in order to achieve equity and ethical practice!
If you want to get at the truth in KIMEP you can not "ask" for documentation. You WILL get what they want you to get, documentation that will render your accusation meaningless. You MUST anticipate that they have already taken steps to counter the moves you have made to date and will make with this committee. My own observation and direct experience is that they waste no time or effort to be proactive about accusations and to "produce" the evidence needed so that the complaint will be shown to be groundless or "misinformed". What you guys need is not committee members - you need a network of inside information (authenticated documents), unimpeachable witnesses, clear well documented, signed and notarized affidavits / testimony. I left KIMEP based upon ethics and principle. But you guys are fighting an uphill battle. Sorry to sound unethical but you need spies and whistle blowers. You need photocopy evidence, hidden camera interviews, photographic evidence or video that illustrates illegal or unethical behaviors and actions. Again, I truly dislike saying it but I cannot see that coming in through the front door will net you an end result as you intend.
Shortly before my departure from KIMEP, a member of the U.S. Embassy staff related to me that while other local universities may be stronger in academics or administration, KIMEP was the only game in town (referring to its Western or American style of education). It appears to still be the case. KIMEP is in sorry need of some other international competing institution that can kick it into reality for once in its life.
Whether saints or sinners, it is time for Dr. Bang and others to step aside and let the chips fall were they may. An autocratic model of organizational leadership while seeming to be appropriate in a post-Soviet environment era is teaching the students an extraordinarily BAD lesson in business and free market enterprise.
After so many years away from KIMEP I regret not being able to offer you more than my verbal support and good wishes. Move forcefully forward with a committee, get evidence that is unimpeachable - just make sure you get it behind their backs! Check Mate!