ASU Violates Employee Confidentiality Again… and Again…


One of the core foundations of institutional credibility is trust. When that trust is violated, not once but over and over, employees are right to develop a sense of skepticism. So when Adams State University (ASU) administration repeatedly violates employee privacy – and often with retaliatory motives – it is entirely justified for employees to lose trust in the institution’s commitment to their confidentiality.

Watching Adams reported on the employee privacy trap set by ASU Human Resources. While President McClure denies that the link to public compensation data was being monitored, no other explanation has been given as to why this and only this link on the ASU HR website was guarded behind a login screen.  See An Act of God? Why Did Accessing Public CUPA Data Demand Your ID? for more on this story.  The president expects employees to take her at her word, but that declaration is beginning to wear thin for many employees.

Then, ASU Police Chief Paul Grohowski sent a campus-wide email justifying the banning of Watching Adams publisher Danny Ledonne from campus. In this email, Grohowski revealed a number of confidential details regarding the proceedures and findings of the Office of Equal Opportunity. While President McClure insisted that these details are not confidential in a recent Valley Courier interview, the very act of contacting the OEO and meeting about any concern is a confidential process – as made clear to employees by the former OEO Director, Joel Korngut.

Additionally, another employee reflects on their experience with a breach of their confidentiality. They stated:

“I made what I assumed to be a confidential request to Human Resources only to have my supervisor inform me that the VPAA brought up my request during a meeting. The most troubling part was not only had my confidentiality been breached on multiple levels but the cavalier and nonchalant way in which my request was mentioned by a person who had no business knowing it even existed. This breach has given me serious misgivings about approaching Human Resources in the future and makes me wonder about the ways in which my confidentiality has been breached in the past.”

These breaches are clear violations of the ASU Professional Personnel Handbook. For example:

B. Responsibilities to College
1. As employees of a state-supported academic institution, Professional Personnel shall:
e. Not to disclose privileged or confidential information.

D. Violation of Standards of Professional Conduct
1. Professional Personnel who violate these or duly adopted and published ASC standards of professional conduct may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment for cause.

Watching Adams is curious as to what “disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment” will be applied to ASU Police Chief Paul Grohowski, HR Director Tracy Rogers, and Vice President of Academic Affairs Frank Novotny.

At the very least, an admission of wrongdoing and administrative apologies are in order. The first step to restoring trust is acknowledging the harm that the perpetrator’s actions have caused and restorative justice proceedings to make the victim of confidentiality breaches whole again.