The turbulent past of new interim director of admissions, Alberto Colom, has followed him to ESU.
With a COVID-19-triggered enrollment crisis at hand, Colom — hired on Jan. 25—brings a long history of working in important academic administrative roles to his essential new role at ESU at a critical juncture in time.
But Colom also brings a history of allegations by multiple former employees to have created hostile and gender-discriminatory working environments.
Colom’s very public drama of accusations, resignation, and the later dismissal of the claims, has been the subject of multiple news reports. His resignation from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was even reported in outlets such as Wisconsin Public Radio.
One former associate director of admissions at UWEC, Heather Pearson, described the work environment that Colom allegedly brought to her former employer in an email to the Stroud Courier.
“Within his first month on the job he was verbally attacking and belittling trusted leaders on campus,” Pearson said. “He is smart and knows how to manipulate in a way that doesn’t leave a trail and calls into question those who were previously held in high regard.”
Pearson also recollected an early warning she allegedly received about Colom.
“After he was hired on our campus, we received a warning from an individual who had worked with him in the Florida system,” Pearson wrote. “Initially we ignored it, hoping it was just a personal bias and not his modus operandus.”
In the email, she also linked various articles from local Wisconsin newspapers, including UWEC’s student newspaper, The Spectator, regarding a gender-discrimination complaint made against him, as well as a piece covering his eventual resignation from UWEC.
Pearson said she had worked at UW-Eau Claire for nearly 18 years and would likely have worked there until she retired.
ESU public relations director, Dr. Brenda Friday, released a statement to the Stroud Courier on behalf of the university last week.
“East Stroudsburg University is aware of the previous allegation and exoneration of the Interim Director of Admission, Mr. Colom, upon obtaining his professional service,” Dr. Friday wrote.
“In situations where the university is aware of past employment uncertainties, additional due-diligence is conducted to validate the veracity of the information.”
The statement also clarified that a search for a permanent director of admission is continuing.
“While the University conducts its search for a regular Director of Admission, Mr. Colom’s deep knowledge of recruitment and student engagement during his 35-year career provides significant value to the ESU Admissions team as it develops a comprehensive recruitment and enrollment plan,” the statement continued.
“A new Director of Admissions is expected to be hired before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.”
Colom sent the following statement through University Relations regarding his position, experience within the ESU community so far and plans for the future:
“I am very fortunate to work with staff, faculty and deans at East Stroudsburg University for this limited period of time as the interim admissions director while a search is underway for a new Director of Admissions. “
“I believe in the short time I have been here, we have started to see some enrollment initiatives translate into action. This is positive momentum the new director of admission may build upon.
“The team is eager, as I am, to improve enrollment at ESU, particularly after a difficult year of largely remote instruction due to the COVID pandemic.”
“While here in a consultative capacity, my focus will remain on recruiting new and transfer students to our campus with the help and support of the enthusiastic and energetic admissions team.”
“We will develop new events, review and modify our communication flows for our prospective students and invite them to become part of the Warrior family.”
This story has been updated in light of new information.
Editor-in-Chief Natalie Irula contributed to this story.
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