Former coworkers have shared their experiences working with ESU’s embattled new Interim Director of Admissions, Alberto Colom, with The Stroud Courier.
In a recent Zoom interview, these former coworkers have expressed their desire to spread awareness of the work environment Colom allegedly created at their respective previous institutions of employment.
One such former coworker is John Yancey, who was Assistant Vice-President of Enrollment Services at the University of North Florida (UNF).
Yancey began working under Colom, who became Associative Vice-President of Enrollment Services at UNF, in July 2014.
During the Zoom call, Yancey described what appeared to be a slash-and-burn approach to management by Colom.
“My phone buzzed in my pocket, and I finished my speech and answered questions, and then I walked outside, and I looked and it was a call from [Colom],” Yancey said, describing one alleged incident that took place as he was finishing up a presentation at Florida Gulf-Coast University as part of the State University System of Florida Director’s Tour.
According to Yancey, upon returning the call, Colom communicated he wanted multiple individuals, including the university’s registrar, fired by the same day.
Yancey claimed Colom told him, “They’re out to get me.”
Yancey continued to recount his experience with Colom, describing that they argued over that same topic for hours the next time they met in person.
After going to a meeting, Colom had come back with information from the provost stating that he could only fire a woman working in the admission’s marketing department.
Yancey relayed that Colom proceeded to fire the woman the next morning.
Years later, Colom would become Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC), where Heather Kretz was working as the Director of Admissions.
Kretz began by detailing the alleged events of their first meeting.
She recalled that Colom jumped right into business, despite having originally claiming it was a “getting to know” meeting.
When she did not have data prepared for him, Kretz told us he became irate.
“Jesus Christ!” Kretz alleged Colom said.
“You didn’t anticipate that I would inquire about that?”
The rest of the meeting, Kretz claimed, Colom sharply criticized her work experience, calling it worthless.
“I need to know what your qualifications are. I need to see your resume on my desk tomorrow. I need to know exactly what you’re doing because I think your 17 years of admissions experience is basically worthless,” Kretz recalled Colom saying.
Kretz alleged that Colom continued to verbally abuse and degrade her in private meetings that often lasted much past her typical hours.
Kretz resigned from UWEC in Jan. 2019.
Angela Swenson-Holzinger, another disgruntled former coworker and interviewee, also worked at UWEC in academic advising and academic support and started to report to Colom in Jan. 2019.
Swenson-Holzinger alleged that Colom repeatedly questioned her leadership skills.
“One of the things that he did was he demand that I rank the 30 academic advisers at UWEC [from best to worst],” said Swenson-Holzinger, “and became angry when I tired to ask him for questions.”
Swenson-Holzinger said that she offered to say which she thought had better skills, such as in technology, in an effort to avoid simply ranking her coworkers.
According to Swenson-Holzinger, Colom responded by yelling, “Just best to worst!”
“He would get mad that I couldn’t do it and I wouldn’t do it, and would tell me that was evidence that I was a weak leader and that I wasn’t doing a good job, and continuously, the refrain was that I’m passive and that I’m weak,” Swenson-Holzinger alleged.
“I definitely have weaknesses, those are not two of them.”
The discrimination complaint also triggered an investigation by UWEC that found insufficient evidence against Colom.
The Stroud Courier attempted multiple times to obtain more information from Colom and University Relations in response to the allegations, especially in light of challenges ESU currently faces as the pandemic strains enrollment.
University Relations director, Dr. Brenda Friday, directed the Stroud Courier to two March statements from Colom and the university, respectively.
“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,” Colom said in the statement.
“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.”
The university’s statement read: “East Stroudsburg University is aware of the previous allegations and exoneration of the Interim Director of Admissions, Mr. Colom, upon obtaining his professional service… A new Director of Admissions is expected to be hired before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.”
Editor-in-Chief Natalie Irula contributed to the reporting of this story.
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