Board Of Trustees AUBG
United States of America


To: AUBG Board of Trustees
From: AUBG Alumni
Date: February 25th, 2017

Subject: Major strategic problems at AUBG - request for urgent attention

This is an open letter from AUBG alumni. It has been posted on www.gopetition.com where it still attracts other signatories. We are asking the AUBG Alumni Association President, Vladimir Rusev, to forward this petition on alumni behalf to the AUBG Board of Trustees. We care deeply for AUBG, and we wish to highlight what we see as an urgent need to address comprehensively a range of problems. We also suggest possible solutions and actions to the best of our knowledge and intention.

We appeal to all AUBG alumni to support this petition. Please enter your Graduation Year in the free form field. We highly recommend to leave your names visible. If you prefer to uncheck this option, your names will not be visible to the public but will be added to the final signatures to be submitted officially to the Board Of Trustees.


We know that the recent endeavor of the Board and the President of AUBG to administer some much-needed reforms in the institution has brought about a crisis situation which is most damaging to AUBG image and institutional integrity. The peak of this crisis was reached when various confidential information was leaked on an anonymous online forum; an open discussion at a general meeting was undermined by what seemed a directed attempt to blame solely current management for problems accumulated through the years. Concerns have been raised about the way the reform is being prepared as well as about management style and organizational processes. These concerns require earnest attention together with the recognition that there is always inevitable resistance to what can be a painful time of cuts. There are people who are genuinely worried about their job; there are those who may approve change but do not like the way change happens; there are also those who do not want to see their power base or status quo eroded.
As the escalation of ill feeling and conflicting interests can undermine reform and damage AUBG’s reputation, we feel the need to speak up, express our genuine concern, and try to stop a slide towards the marginalization of the University.
We hereafter list the main perceived strategic problems and suggest corresponding solutions. We realize that we do not possess complete information about the actual situation, but we hope that this list can trigger a robust discussion for major changes.

It is quite obvious that AUBG administrative structure has bloated over the years and needs restructuring and optimization. The number of employees per student/turnover in many administrative functions is a multiple of what is currently the case in similar institutions. This has been clearly shown in the independent consultancy audit of AUBG staff structure, which was meant to serve as a good guidance document.

• Review staff numbers, roles, and salaries starting from the highest to the lowest level. Use benchmarks from similar institutions (e.g. other American universities in Europe) and earnings benchmarks from independent outside companies like Hays. Review but do not discard the existing EY Parthenon audit recommendations.
• Review and evaluate efficiency of hiring and other HR processes as a part of an overall review of existing AUBG processes and practices.
• Identify which functions bring best value to AUBG and invest accordingly.
• Consider reducing fixed costs through outsourcing or temporary external assistance.
• Ensure an even start in this process for all current employees and provide complete transparency and clearly comparable performance indicators in order to minimize discontent and ensure cooperation.

Times are changing fast but it seems that the University has done little to adapt. There are some objective reasons for the declining lack of interest by prospective students but there is also the fact that programs seem to have changed little or not at all in the past 20 years. There is an urgent need for curriculum reform and a business plan in order to ensure that AUBG will remain competitive in the years to come. Another related source of worry is the growing gap between how graduates perform and some university ratings as related to Bulgaria and AUBG.

• Start the project for a Strategic Plan for the University from scratch. Do it properly by collecting all necessary information and involving all key stakeholders. This Strategic Plan needs to be deployed on all levels through corresponding incentives and be followed meticulously.
• Adapt program portfolio and content based on this Strategic Plan by investing in the areas where the need for resources was identified (faculty, facilities, competencies). Recognize that change is hard and there will be some inevitable difficulties and resistance.
• Give most serious attention to how AUBG is ranked and perceived locally and internationally.

AUBG was created as a beacon of liberal values and education. Sadly, the image of the University is tarnished by persistent rumors of corruption, nepotism, power struggles, and so on. Everyday problems like food quality complaints, IT issues, etc. also hurt AUBG at all possible levels, including public image and student intake. We see a total disintegration of normal channels of communication and proper administrative procedures. It is totally unacceptable to reach a situation where internal information is leaked in an organized way to anonymously set forums.

• Prepare a communication program to address key image issues and ensure that the key channels and tools for that (e.g. website, university-managed forum) are in place.
• Ensure that all key stakeholders have equal access to these channels in order to voice their opinion.
• Challenge forcefully any attempts to boycott agreed processes through actions that are unacceptable from an organizational and legal point of view. Information leakage and attempts to create parallel anonymous governance should face full investigation by HR and AUBG Board of Trustees with concrete consequences. If required by law, notify relevant authorities.
• React strongly to all signals for deeper problems by conducting proper internal and external audits. There are clear concerns about possible long-standing unacceptable practices that need a proper audit, analysis and answers. If possible and necessary, include external experts (e.g. alumni with experience in this field) in these audits. AUBG as an institution needs to come clean with all its constituents about its actions and procedures.

The past years have seen the change of five (5!) AUBG presidents and the deterioration of many key performance indicators like student intake, financial figures, and loss of income from key donors, etc. As the Board is AUBG’s governing body, it does have the ultimate responsibility for the strategic direction and actual performance of the University.

We invite the Board to consider the following:
• Give a very clear mandate for reform to the President of AUBG if reform is seen as needed; support the people entrusted with this reform.
• Explain the need to look for efficiencies at all level and give official clear backing for processes;
• Review the current structure of the Board to ensure that the Board benefits from the help of all key stakeholders of the University including (but not limited to) donor organizations, alumni, faculty, students, local community, staff, etc.
• React strongly via administrative measures to all attempts to undermine approved reforms in ways that are organizational and/or legally unacceptable. A clear sign needs to be given of what is acceptable and what would not be tolerated.
• If necessary to implement the above points, discuss changes in the University Charter.

In conclusion, we trust that the Board will take all these points and suggestions seriously and will do everything in its powers to amend the situation and ensure a brighter future for AUBG. We do realize that alumni are just one of the many key constituents of the University’s body. At the same time, we hope that the Board will appreciate our ability and desire to contribute by funds, expertise, time, and network and will recognize our desire to improve the University’s situation by taking immediate actions on the discussed problems. We are more than willing to support this process in all possible ways.

The Future For AUBG petition to Board Of Trustees AUBG was written by AUBG Petition and is in the category Education at GoPetition.