Based on the handling of the Todd Hoffner situation, I don’t believe Minnesota State University President Richard Davenport or those administrators involved with him in this sad state of affairs will ever be credited with being great leaders.
No doubt he feels he did the right thing in reassigning Hoffner. But it’s never right to punish the victim of injustice for the embarrassment that injustice may cause a big institution.
I spent my life in organizations and institutions: The Treasury Department as a young Secret Service agent; the StarTribune as a supervisor, manager, and executive; and as a leadership consultant to organizations large and small.
The cultures of large organizations and institutions do something to the character and values of many people. Gradually, protecting the institution from whatever people or situations are perceived to be threats to the image of the institution becomes paramount and caring about and bearing witness for victims of injustice get lost entirely.
Brave souls in our institutions stand up to injustice and wrongdoing often. They generally get punished.
A large institution will never suffer for doing what is right; they will be acclaimed and respected for doing so because value-driven leadership happens so rarely. By not doing the right thing as a normal course of business, the deeper character of the institution slowly erodes.
Several of Mankato’s local institutions did wrong by Hoffner and his family. I’ve yet to hear of any of them say, “We are sorry.”
I’ll be cheering Hoffner on as he stands up to those misdeeds, not only for himself but for every person in the community who is ever treated unjustly.