UCLA NUS Executive MBA Letter to Deans Regarding Student Abuse from Jochen Wirtz
UCLA NUS EMBA Letter to Deans Regarding Student Abuse from Jochen Wirtz
July 9, 2012
Sent via Email and US Mail
Professor Bernard Yeung
Dean and Stephen Riady Distinguished Professor
NUS Business School- BIZ1-6-18
Graduate Studies Office, Mochtar Riady Building,
15 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore 119245
Professor Judy D. Olian
Dean and John E. Anderson Chair in Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management
110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
Subject: NUS Student A00XXXXX / UCLA ID: XXXXXXXXX
UCLA NUS Executive MBA Class 9
Dear Dean Yeung and Dean Olian:
After six weeks of contemplation and extensive re-evaluation, I have decided to leave the program effective today. During the last six weeks I have spoken with several of my classmates and received important feedback from them that played a part in my decision. As you are aware, I have put forward $21,783. (not including travel and lodging) of my hard earned money to the Program. I have assembled the following facts and feedback based on my experiences with the Program.
Removal from Classroom and Meeting with the Co-Directors on May 22, 2012
At the end of the day of class (and in front of my classmates), Ms. June Wang came to my seat and asked me to accompany her for there was an “administrative matter” that needed to be addressed immediately. I was escorted by her across the classroom toward the door and then onward to the Program office conference room where both Professors Wirtz and Hayn were sitting. On the way I had no idea what the reason could be for this unsettling capture and I had confusing thoughts along the way to the office. Both of the Professors had a serious look on their faces and I got the feeling that a child might have after being sent to the Principal’s office. This was the first day that I ever came into contact with Professor Hayn for she taught the first portion of our accounting class that afternoon in Singapore.
Professor Wirtz started by saying there has been four complaints against me in the program and he thought it was necessary to have this meeting. He cited Ms. Leah Liu, who complained that I had not been a team player in the Black Swan case study group. I mentioned that she had suggested we select China as the country that would have a catastrophic event and I asked her why. She said no reason in particular. I made the point China has 1.3 billion people and a smaller country such as Vietnam or Thailand might be easier to get our arms around. The group concurred and we put forward Vietnam. This group interaction occurred after class in the classroom and in the span of five minutes. When I suggested Vietnam, Ms. Liu made a hand gesture toward me and then raised her arm in the air with a blocking motion. I took it ‘as how thy question me’ sort of thing and didn’t think too much about it other than she has some maturity issues.
After the issue was raised by Professor Wirtz I asked a few of my group mates from the Black Swan if they recalled any “team player” issues with me during that short interaction and the answer was a unanimous “no”. In fact, one of my team mates was so shocked with this accusation that he asked if he could speak to Professor Wirtz about it. I said feel free to. I encourage you to ask/follow-up with my other Black Swam group mates (Will, Andrew, Stephanie, Ivan).
The other incident that Professor Wirtz brought up as the second of four (he never mentioned the other two) was a complaint by Ms. Febriany Eddy who was “very shaken up” about something I said to her at the Marina Bay Sands conference room in which we had a presentation by Mr. Mohd Noor Spono, Assistant Manager at the hotel. Just prior to the start of the presentation, I sat down in an empty chair next to Ms. Sherry Xi. After I was sat for a short time, Ms. Eddy came to me and said I was sitting in her seat. I said I was sorry and didn’t know that seat was hers/reserved. I was a little surprised with her approach for she was not polite and was borderline rude in the manner in which she approached me. After the presentation, I went over to Ms. Eddy and expressed my disappointment by the manner in which she approached the situation. I mentioned that I was surprised and that I did not know I was sitting in someone else’s seat. I did not know that some in our selected group of executives are so tender and apparently need to be coddled. I apologized to Ms. Eddy the very next day for my “behavior”.
Although Professor Wirtz did not mention the other two complaints, he did bring to the forefront other incidents that were cast in a negative light. The first was an incident with Professor Erikson. Professor Erikson was jetlagged and in an email to me he was clearly irritated that I had requested that I be referred to as Dr. Student in formal written correspondence (not in day to day business communications). He sent an email to me where he referred to me as “Dr. Student” and made reference to the issue in formal correspondence (see Attachment 1). Please keep in mind that he had sent me several emails prior where he referred to me as Student. He later apologized for his actions.
The second other incident/behavior that Professor Wirtz brought up was that he heard my name in the Administration office “everyday”. Implying that I was a pain in the ‘you know what’. I forget the details of what he was complaining about, however, the impression was that I had worn out my welcome on more than one occasion. He also brought up that I had issues with the UCLA office (Ms. Dina Lee) and Graduate School as part of obtaining my acceptance letter (there was an error in my email address and I ended up having to find the root source of why I had not received my letter when I was told that I should have had it). [see Attachments 1&2].
The third other incident was related to my classmate, Mr. Steven Wulff. Steven and I were in Group 1 of Professor Wirtz’s Services Marketing class and Steven forwarded an email I sent to him to the rest of the group members with an inappropriate, condescending message in an attempt to make me look bad (“I’ll leave it to Student to clarify/speak to its appropriateness.”). After I asked him to stop he wrote another email to the group: a. “Student: The only thing belittling and unprofessional is your complete overreaction.” and b. “I’m sorry, but the relevance of Dr Google links, videos and quotes on Cisco v Juniper, and your comment about the ‘MBA thing/learning experience’, wasn’t self-evident to me regardless of how late at night it is”. I sent Professor Wirtz a letter regarding this attack by Steven and unfortunately Professor Wirtz said he could not form an opinion (I will address that letter and Professor Wirtz’s reaction in full later) [see Attachments 2 and 3].
During my early email conversations and one interview with Professor Wirtz when I was contemplating entering the program he stated that he was really looking forward to having me in the course. He, however, gave the impression of DISAPPOINTMENT when we met, and, sadly Professor Wirtz treated me as a disappointment after that.
The meeting concluded and toward the end Professor Hayn stated that all these issues amounted to a small undercurrent in the class (Class 9). Her statements were disappointing and not reflective of the gravity of the situation. I felt very humiliated and demoralized by being dragged into that meeting especially so for I was very sick with bronchitis at the time (I ended up going to the hospital the next day). I now feel quite differently for I am better and back in the USA. In short, if students have an issue with another classmate, they should address their issue first with the classmate directly. Who are you going to go running to or complain to if you are an executive? I now think that Professor Wirtz exercised poor judgment with his actions and I am left thinking that it was a calculated move which did not cast me in a favorable light to Professor Hayn. Professor Wirtz later apologized for having the meeting and stated that he wanted to have the meeting with me alone (see section in the letter entitled “Professor Wirtz’s Apology May 23, 2012”).
What is of particular concern is the Professor who teaches Services Marketing and who is the head of this program at NUS fails to understand the basic premise of natural justice. As you would be aware in any reasonable setting the accused must be given an opportunity to know of what he is accused. I still am not sure what ‘other matters’ I have been accused of.
Professor Erikson Apology February 13, 2012
On February 13, 2012, Professor Erickson wrote in an email to me “HI Student: Finally, upon re-reading the emails, I do apologize for my initial tone. My only excuse is that I’m very tired and irritable at the moment, and that’s a poor one. Best.” (see Attachment 1). Professor Wirtz insinuated I brought on Professor Erickson’s frustration.
This matter was resolved between Professor Erikson and me and, I believe, of no issue to either of us. I only mention it in case it is one of the ‘other matters’ raised by Professor Wirtz.
Letter to Professor Wirtz dated April 26, 2012 and Reaction
I wrote to Professor Wirtz stating my objections to student Steven Wulff sending an email to Group 1 members in an apparent effort to make me look bad after I had kindly asked him to stop. The letter is self-explanatory (see Attachment 3). Professor Wirtz and I corresponded via email that day and spoke on the phone (see Attachment 2). Professor Wirtz mentioned that there have been groups of one in the past (insinuating for those who cannot get along and myself). Please see his email to me on that date below:
1. Dear Student, Thank you for your response. Based on your letter, I cannot form an opinion. There are always several aspects and perspectives to everything, even if they appear to be obvious – they never are. To truly understand what happened and what the intentions were, one would have to forward your letter and email to Mr Wulff (and perhaps the study group) and gather their perspective on what happened and whether there is an ethical issue, and then hopefully get more positive group dynamics. Given this, how would you like to proceed from here?With best wishes, Jochen PS I just spoke to the program office team and there seem to have been a number of issues at both the UCLA Program Office and at the NUS Program Office, plus issues with your study group. If you like I would be happy to discuss over the phone and see how we proceed from here.
2. Dear Student, I’d be delighted to keep you in the program! You just need to become more tolerant with the program offices, your class mates and me. I really don’t want you to go ahead and invest even more time, effort and money, and then later still drop out. Warmest regards & have a good weekend, Jochen
After I spent a tremendous amount of time drafting a letter setting forth my concerns and clearly stating the inappropriate actions of Mr. Wulff, Professor Wirtz says he cannot form an opinion plus may need to conduct an investigation/seek other feedback but yet he states “I have issues with my study group”- an issue with one person, not the group. It is clear he does not support my perspective and considers me a problem.
Professor Wirtz’s Apology May 23, 2012
“And sorry for yesterday afternoon — you didn’t feel well and I wanted to speak to you later and by myself.” (see Attachment 4). If this was this case, why did he drag me into such a situation on a day that I was very sick and in front of Professor Hayn? I firmly believe Professor Wirtz’s intent was to humiliate me, he treated me as a child and he acted unprofessionally.
Professor Hayn Email Dated July 3, 2012-No Lingering Thoughts
I wrote the Professor “Would like to discuss a few items related to the program and to close out my lingering perspective on the meeting we had with Professor Wirtz in Singapore”. The Professor wrote me back and stated “BTW: I have no lingering thoughts on the meeting that you, Professor Wirtz and I had in Singapore. I trust that everything is going smoothly now. I also have heard nothing to the contrary from Professor Wirtz. If this is the main reason why you want to meet, it may be a moot point unless, of course, you have concerns. Please let me know if you’d still like a meeting and when.”(see Attachment 5). The Professor gives a presumptuous response by stating she has “no lingering thoughts”- my wording, “may be a moot point”, and does not appreciate that I am the one with the damage/issue who reached out to discuss what transpired in the meeting.
World Class Program-Faculty
Professor Jo was a disappointment to most of the students I have spoken with, including myself. Although he has the credentials, he seemed ill-prepared for the class and had a habit of making hasty board notes that were riddled with errors. There was no common nomenclature used for mathematical expressions used and the graphical presentations made on the board were largely unintelligible. The instruction was so poor we had to have a Sunday session with most of the class and taught by fellow student, Michael Gudas. Professor Jo stepped in a few times and informed us when he was going to dinner and when he might be back.
My personal view is that the class of Professor Delios was weak and I did not learn anything new. The material was equivalent to the evening news (PBS) level and any “Economist” article on similar topics. I was expecting something much deeper than corruption, family-ownership and political influences in a very general sense. Several students complained that his materials were not up-to-date and were 5-10 years old in several instances. We paid approximately $1,000/day for each of these classes (per student) which is outrageous. I believe that the personal attire of the lecturer is important in setting standards. Professor Delios fails any normal standard in this regard.
World Class Program-Students
I have asked several classmates what their impression of the students in the class are by asking a simply question: “What percentage of the class do you consider to be executive material?”. The answers ranged from 10-33% with one person who stated 10-15 persons. Although only five classmates were asked the question, it is clear that they all were consistent in that less than half of the class are considered to be less than executive material (in this case-did the students belong there/did they appear to have a promising future as an executive). This is not good news as far as I am concerned.
Professor Wirtz stated in class that the administration staff at NUS are paid bonuses on the numbers of enrollees. This is only acceptable if the standard is not affected.
When I was in graduate school at the University of XXX for six years, I never looked around and asked myself why these students are here. They were all bright, hardworking, mature, responsible and without an entitlement mentality.
Photographs and Interviews of Selected Students
After about one week into the first segment, our classmates (Luke-ServiceSource, Roxana-DyStar, Marc-ABB Ltd., Kunal-Accenture, Julie O-Appature, Julie C-Disney, Michael N-Wearnes Technology, Theresa-Trust Company of the West and perhaps a few others) were all dressed up for photographs to be taken of them for program marketing purposes (brochures, website, etc). Each person was taken from the class (while class was being held) to have their pictures taken. Besides being disturbing to the class, what are the others supposed to think? Why weren’t they chosen? Not as photogenic? Not as worthy? Not from the right company? Not palatable to prospective students? I was told these selected students represented a wide-range of industries. I do not know but it surely was a charade and everyone was talking about it. I found it distasteful, unnecessary, shallow and done with a complete lack of tact. Then the next day, the chosen ones were taken from class again to be “interviewed”. There was nothing discrete about it.
Wasteful Spending and Inappropriate Commentary
During the second week of our Segment 1 classes in Singapore, Ms. Dina Lee (UCLA NUS Program Director) and Ms. Irma Stojanovic (Program Coordinator) showed up in the lunchroom in the business building. I asked Irma, at a later date, why they went to Singapore and she said for administrative support. She told me how nice the luxury hotel was and how beautiful the Orchard Gardens were. I think Irma is a very kind and helpful young women, however, others in our class were asking themselves similar questions: What are they doing in Singapore? How are they helping us? Why are we paying for it?
I spoke to a female member of our class upon my return to the USA after Segment 1. We talked about all kinds of things related to our impressions of the program and moving forward. My respected classmate told me that during her interview, she was told that although she had great experience combined with a strong academic record, the program was interested in having more women in the class. I can tell you for certain she was very offended.
Aims achieved Question January 17, 2012
I wrote “Although NUS/UCLA staff did not participate in the ranking process, I wonder if there is any reason/justification for such low placement in the ‘aims achieved’ category? The programs that were ranked first and second overall had ‘aims achieved’ that were also first and second (a strong trend there). Perhaps you have asked a similar question. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.” (see Attachment 6) I discovered that the Program was Rank Number 85th in the Aims achieved (5% of the weight of the ranking): The extent to which alumni fulfilled their most important goals or reasons for doing an EMBA.Professor Wirtz suggested we discuss this in the interview and I never received a straight answer. The Financial Times 2011 Executive MBA Survey Ranking Overall Ranking the UCLA NUS EMBA Program was at No. 9.
I believe I have put forward valuable feedback on the program in a general sense and provided a convincing amount of supporting evidence that I was destined for trouble in Singapore before I left the USA (Prof. Wirtz sentence “I really don’t want you to go ahead and invest even more time, effort and money, and then later still drop out.” in his email to me dated April 26, 2016). Some people might think that comment was foreboding and others subconscious desire. Regardless, it certainly appears as though I am being sent signals that indicate I am not wanted. As an aside, I am not interested in receiving any future communications from Professor Wirtz.
Given the way that I have been treated and the way that the course has not met the advertised expectations I believe that your respective Universities are in breach of contract with me.
I now request that a full refund be forwarded to me as soon as possible. On the check being received, then I agree to forgo any damages for the time, money (lodging, travel etc.) and lost effort that I have can never recover from your course.
Thank you for taking the time to review the issues brought forward in this letter and I look forward to your cooperation in resolving the matter as I have suggested above.
Very truly yours,
- Prof Erickson Dina Lee Grad College Email History UCLA NUS Student (Feb 10-13, 2012)
- April 26 2012 Letter Reaction Exchange Prof Wirtz and Student
- NUS letter April 26 2012 Final (April 26, 2012 Letter-Ethics and Life Experiences: Steven Wulff)
- Prof Wirtz May 23 2012 Sorry
- Prof Carla Hayn Email Dated July 3 2012
- Aims achieved Email dated January 16, 2012