Complaint filed with SACS COC against USA’s administration reveals school’s underbelly.

Complaint filed with SACS COC against USA’s administration reveals school’s underbelly.

From: Ted Burnett
500 Lincoln Street, Ste. B-105
Daphne, AL  36526

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A complaint against the University of South Alabama and its current administration.

August 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To: President
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Complaint
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, GA  30033

46 Pages

 

Table of Contents

 

To: President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. 3

  1. Complaint Information. 3

State the nature of complaint. 3

Principles of Integrity 1.1 (The institution operates with integrity in all matters.). 5

Core requirements 2.9 (Learning resources and services). 5

Comprehensive standards 3.2.8 (Qualified administrative/academic officers). 5

Email #11 to the president. 6

Re: No Contact/No Trespass [EMAIL] August 25, 2017 at 5:48 PM… 9

Re: Big data: 11

Mr. James A. Yance. 12

University of South Alabama, Board of Trustees Member. 12

Re: Email #13 from me to Football Head Coach. 14

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent, Tim Tebow.. 14

Coach Jones, 14

Email #14 to Mr. Jay Leno. 16

Email #1 to the president. 17

Re: Seeking a meeting with you this summer?. 17

Re: Famous People with Dyslexia — the case for why South Alabama should rethink its approach towards students with dyslexia. 17

Email #4 to the president. 23

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent. 23

Email #5 the president’s answer. 26

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent. 26

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent. 26

Email #7 to the USA faculty. 27

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent — My pitch to Dr. Tony Waldrop at South Alabama. 27

Here came my “approval” or green light for my project and to be on campus… 28

Email #8 from Rachael Bolden to me. 28

Re::Reply from USA’s Student Center… 28

Email #9 to the president. 29

Re: USA Student Disability Services and Dr. Andrea Agnew.. 29

Email #10 to Associate Dean to the Students and Director, Student Disability Services Dr. Andrea Agnew. 30

Dr. Agnew, 31

Famous People with Dyslexia… 32

Ted Burnett’s partial biography. 36

Here is what some in my audience are saying about my work….. 38

The role that dyslexia has played on my life: 45

 

Note: The following is my complaint, along with all my supporting materials, filed with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC), a regional accreditation organization representing the U.S. Department of Education, against the University of South Alabama (USA) and its administration. The University of South Alabama is a member organization.

August 31, 2017

To: President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097

____________________________________________________

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Commission on Colleges

1866 Southern Lane

Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097

 

COMPLAINT PROCEDURES (See pdf.)

AGAINST SACSCOC OR ITS ACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS

http://www.sacscoc.org/pdf/081705/complaintpolicy.pdf

II. Complaint Information

State the nature of complaint.

  1. The following complaint is based on a series of events that occurred over the summer beginning in May 16 and ending on August 25, involving the president of the University of South Alabama (USA), Dr. Tony Waldrop, the Director of Student Disability Services and Associate Dean to Students, Dr. Andrea Agnew and Head Football Coach Joey Jones and Vice President of Students, Dr. Michael Mitchell. There seems to be a lack of self-regulation at USA as displayed by an absence of institutional integrity within this administration and as shown externally to this new vendor (The Center for Dyslexia and Talent), there’s a failure to openly and honestly communication between departments and externally with this vendor.

There’s a failure to show any dignity, empathy or university support (no adviser) to this new vendor or a new university club given any potential liabilities involving USA students. With permission to be on campus to tour the Student Center in early August, unknowingly Vice President to Students, Dr. Michael Mitchell, issued on August 25, 2007 via an email a “No Contract/No Trespass” notice with the threat of arrest against me after I caught the students/employees working in Dr. Andrea Agnew’s office telling a bold face lie to me so Dr. Agnew wouldn’t have to meet with me. The university system presents itself to me as being abusive with its police powers, aggressive, very dysfunctional and threatening.  Nobody returns their phone calls or their emails: Dr. Tony Waldrop, Dr. Andrea Agnew and Head Football Coach Joey Jones.

  1. Briefly describe the details of the complaint in the clearest possible language and indicate how the institution has violated specific sections of the Principles of Accreditation.

On May 16, I asked for a meeting with Dr. Tony Waldrop to pitch an idea to help dyslexic students become better students, help them uncover their natural talents while regaining their confidence, ambition, creativity, curiosity and preparing for their future. The cost to the university was going to be the use of a room on campus and some technology. As a dyslexic, I planned to volunteer my time and expertise. On July 26, I had to prompt Dr. Tony Waldrop for an answer to my project having just read where the university was launching an honors college the previous week. The Center for Dyslexia and Talent is for the “C” and “D” students. Upon getting his “No”, I concluded that these dyslexic students deserve the same. I appealed to 90 professors at USA by email and then to the public using social media.

On July 31, 2017, I got an email from Rachel Bolden with Student Center telling me that I could come by and take a tour of the center and look at all the rooms while getting room pricing. I made the trip over to USA on August 2, 2017 where I met a student who gave me a tour of the student center. With the green light, I asked for directions to the Student Disabilities Services office which is across the parking lot. I headed over there to meet the director, but she wasn’t in. I grabbed one of her cards. I went home and wrote her an email seeking a meeting with her. I got a bounce back email stating that Dr. Andrea Agnew would be out until August 7 and would return messages then. I called her office on August 8th. I emailed her. I emailed Dr. Tony Waldrop seeking his help in encouraging Dr. Agnew to reply to my calls and emails.

On August 25, I went back to USA’s campus where I made a point to pay Dr. Agnew a visit. Her two work-study students gave two different answers when I asked to speak with her. Upon hearing their answers, I knew that I had just been lied to and that she was sitting in her office. Why she wouldn’t meet with me I don’t know. I left after giving the young black man one of my flyers. At 5:45 PM, I got an email from Dr. Michael Mitchell, Vice President to Students, threatening me with a “No contact/no trespass” order. Someone lied on Dr. Andrea Agnew to get Dr. Michael Mitchell to take this action. In his email, Dr. Mitchell claimed that he had mailed me a hard copy on [Monday,] August 21, 2017, which I have yet to receive in the mail. It’s August 29, 2017 and the mail has already run for the day. The mail run from Mobile, AL to Daphne, AL is a one to two-day run. Another lie?

Principles of Integrity 1.1 (The institution operates with integrity in all matters.)

Core requirements 2.9 (Learning resources and services)

2.10 (Student support services)

2.12 (Quality Enhancement Plan)

Comprehensive standards 3.2.8 (Qualified administrative/academic officers)

3.2.10 (Administrative staff evaluations)

3.2.13 (Institution-related entities)

  1. Describe the steps taken to exhaust the institution’s grievance process, describe the action taken by the institution to date and provide a copy of the institution’s to the complaint as a result of prescribed procedures.

I sent an email with my version of the story to all the parties involved including the school’s whistle blowing hotline. I have heard from no one. This is less about me and more about the University of South Alabama. What happened to me could have happened to anyone new to the university’s system and how they do business. After getting a threatening letter from an unfamiliar administrator, getting ignored and lied to, they have problems involving a loss of institutional control. They live in a bubble and (in two months) I pierced it. Out came their knives.

LinkedIn article: Whistle blown on powerful USA administrator. (Over 2,000 views)

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whistle-blown-powerful-usa-administrator-ted-burnett

Data: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tedburnett1/detail/recent-activity/posts/ca/post-analytics/urn:li:fs_profilePost:6307287299809959936/

____________________________________________

August 25, 2017

Dr. Tony G. Waldrop, President

University of South Alabama

Mobile, AL 36688

 

Email #11 to the president.

 

Re: University of South Alabama’s Dr. Andrea Agnew and her misconduct

 

Dear Dr. Waldrop,

 

Cc: President, Southern Association of Colleges and School Committee on Colleges

Ms. Kay Ivey, Alabama Governor

Mr. Steve Marshall, Alabama Attorney General

Mr. James A. Yance, University of South Alabama Board of Trustees Member

University of South Alabama Faculty

Dr. Michael Mitchell, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student

Dr. Andrea Agnew, Student Disability Services, Associate Dean of Students

Whistleblower Hotline Internalaudit@southalabama.edu

Today (Friday) [August 25], I returned to your campus to nail down a few details as I try to successfully launch this program for dyslexic college students at USA or off-campus. I still don’t have a room to use, but I’m looking at one of the free rooms that are available in the Marx Library. I, first, stopped by the student center’s information booth where I got directions to The Vanguard’s office. That sent me across campus to Alpha South, but their door was locked. I backed tracked to my car and moved it closer to the Student Disabilities Services office.

I’ve been waiting for a call back from Dr. Andrea Agnew, Director of Student Disabilities Services and Associate Dean of Students, since my first visit on August 2, 2017. I sent an email later that day to Dr. Agnew, but it resulted in me getting an auto message stating that she would be back in her office on August 7, 2017. I sent her another email on August 8, 2017 and later more phone calls and emails including one where I Cc:ed you in the email.

This morning, I was talking with a former Alabama County [Public] School Systems Superintendent about the problem that I was having with Dr. Agnew – not getting my call returned. It really blew my mind that this type of behavior would be tolerated within any organization of any size from a high level administrator much less from a new secretary. His response was that these institutions operate at their own speed and in their own bubble. I am so baffled by the silence that I was really at a lost over what the issues were between Dr. Agnew and myself. It made explaining the situation to others difficult. Thus, I paid a second visit to her office after lunch. I walked into the lobby to find no one sitting in the receptionist’s desk. I stood there for a few minutes. I could hear people talking in the corner office. I then took a seat waiting on someone from the back return to the reception area. After ten minutes, I finally wondered if there was a bell to ring, which I finally saw and quickly tapped.

Immediately, I could hear someone coming from the back. A black female (a student or a student-employee) appeared in the reception area window. I told her that I wanted to speak with Dr. Agnew. The female told me that she (“Dr. Agnew was coming!”) Confused as to where she would appear, I took turns moving my head from the receptionist’s window over to the hallway on my right and back eagerly waiting for her to appear. Instead, a skinny black male with a trimmed beard appeared in the hallway. I told him that I wanted to speak with Dr. Agnew. He told me that she “MAY HAVE STEPPED OUTSIDE” for a few minutes as he retreated back to her office. He quickly returned telling me that she was out of the office. His words rolled off his tongue like a big fat lie. I put a flyer in his hand and told him to have her call me before leaving their office.

It’s bad enough that she won’t do her job and give me five minutes of her time and isn’t mature enough to handle the position of Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Disabilities Services with any degree of professionalism. It’s another thing to have college students doing your bidding and have them think that lying is how one gets to the top of an organization. Regardless of my project, The Center for Dyslexia and Talent, it can be taken elsewhere. Lying is a cancer and everything it touches dies! People can be cancers in their relationships with others. Given USA’s Mitchell Cancer Institute, I don’t have to explain how free radical cells bouncing around in the body damage cells and kill the body to this group.

I returned to my car and immediately drove off campus replaying in my mind what had just happened. I would be miles down the road before I realized that I had forgotten to stop by the library. I didn’t bother returning.

On Friday night at 5:48 pm, I received an email from Dr. Michael Mitchell (Subject: No contact/no trespass) threatening to arrest me if I came back on to campus and to immediately cease trying to contact Dr. Andrea Agnew. His email and following letter to me was generated off another lie told to him by Dr. Agnew or someone in the Student Disabilities Services office. I believe Dr. Mitchell got played by Dr. Agnew otherwise telling my version of the story to him wouldn’t warrant a “No contact/No trespass” letter to me. Besides me, there are two other witnesses with stories to tell in Dr. Agnew’s office. Any investigator worth their salt should be able to get the truth out of them.

Hopefully, this cancer is limited to just this office and hasn’t spread throughout the current administration. Professors, students, parents, and taxpayers deserve better and are handing over real money to this university; if the integrity of South Alabama is no better than the new football athletic facility that came crashing down to the ground over the summer that would explain a lot. As a whistle blower, this matter should be investigated at the highest levels by the governor’s office, the state attorney general’s office, the University of South Alabama’s Board of Trustees, and University President Tony Waldrop’s office.

If this is what diversity means at the university level, America is doomed! I say, “Shame on all of you who participate in the promotion of incompetent people by doing and saying nothing and then allowing others to get hurt by them.” At the heart of the matter, one person is telling the truth while the other is getting people to lie for her.

Sincerely,

Ted Burnett

See attachment: No contact/No trespass email from Dr. Michael Mitchell

Source:

Press Release on Dr. Andrea Agnew named Advocate of the Year for 2015; http://www.southalabama.edu/departments/publicrelations/pressreleases/2015/031715Agnew.html

University of South Alabama Whistleblower Hotline;

https://www.southalabama.edu/departments/financialaffairs/internalaudit/whistleblower/

 

Email #12 from Michael Mitchell to me

Re: No Contact/No Trespass [EMAIL] August 25, 2017 at 5:48 PM

Michael Mitchell <mmitchell@southalabama.edu>

To

tebjr1@yahoo.com

CC

Donna B. Williams

Today at 5:48 PM

Mr. Burnett,

Please see the attached correspondence. A hard copy will be mailed to your address of record.

Thank you,

MM

Dr. Michael Mitchell

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Division of Student Affairs

mmitchell@southalabama.edu

P: (251) 460-6172

F: (251) 460-6157

Division of Student Affairs/Student Center 245

350 Campus Drive

Mobile, AL 36688-0002

southalabama.edu

August 25, 2017

Dear Mr. Burnett:

Our office is in receipt of information related to a campus visit to the Office of Student Disability Services on August 25, 2017.

On August 21, 2017, I issued a cease and desist related to associations between the Center for Dyslexia and Talent and the University of South Alabama.

Based on the report, I am issuing a NO CONTACT (verbal, electronic, personal or otherwise) order between you and Dr. Andrea Agnew. I am also issuing a NO TRESPASS for all USA property, until further notice.

Failure to follow this order will result in your arrest for trespassing and/or additional charges.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

****The August 21, 2017 hard copy was never received.****

By Ted Burnett, as of August 31, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 23, 2017

 

Mr. James A. Yance

University of South Alabama, Board of Trustees Member

169 Dauphin Street

Ste. 318

Mobile, AL 36602

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

Dear Mr. Yance,

Enclosed is some information for your review that I have put together to prepare you for your board meeting discussion on dyslexic including a series of emails (4) that I sent to Dr. Tony Waldrop, over the summer. I made the case for this support group and platform, but he said, “No”. I then reached out to 90 USA professors and the following day I took my campaign public to social media (using LinkedIn and Facebook) and taking out a Facebook ad. I quickly got an email from USA’s student center about room sizes and room rates. Someone anonymous “green lighted” my project. I met with a student and got a tour of the student center, but the room rates were very pricey. I visited the Marx Library, which has several rooms, both, large and small that are free for student groups.

Also included is my own story and dyslexia’s impact, a timeline of my phone calls and emails to Associate Dean Dr. Andrea Agnew, a Fortune magazine cover story dated May 13, 2002 titled “Overcoming Dyslexia” about CEOs, the one titled “Accolades” is the feedback from readers on my website, The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity established and run by Drs. Bennett and Sally Shaywitz, as well as, their invitation to speak to billionaires, CEOs, kings and presidents at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, several years ago. Lastly, Wikipedia has a long list of people diagnosed with dyslexia. I think you’ll find this information both interesting and convincing.

About:

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent (CDT) is a platform where college students who suffer from a learning disability can openly discuss and learn about all things positive regarding dyslexia, which leads to one’s healing and personal growth while in an intimate and safe environment. Any and all related-subjects will be explored including our childhood experiences and memories as students in elementary and high school, discussing the pain and fear that dyslexia has instilled in us as students and people. CDT is a support group where we’ll share our tricks for surviving school daily, identifying our lifelong weaknesses, which made school difficult, if not outright impossible. Over the course of the school year, we’ll learn how to become expert problem solvers, both, simple and complex ones that lead to our own personal truth and wisdom. We’ll explore and uncover our hidden strengths and natural talents that lead to us regaining our confidence while becoming stronger students as we recover our ambition, creativity and curiosity to learn and live while marching towards our life’s calling. Above all, the Center for Dyslexia and Talent believes that dyslexia is a gift and we admire all those who have it.

This group is purely voluntarily and the group seeks no confidential information on any student from the university. My only request is a free weekly meeting room with free A/V technology.

Facebook page: “The Center for Dyslexia and Talent”, Website: TBA

Sincerely,

Ted Burnett

References:

Mr. Joe Bullard

Hon. Jo Bonner

Hon. Emmett Ripley Cox

 

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent is coming soon to the University of South Alabama. tedburnett.com | tedburnett.com

Re: Email #13 from me to Football Head Coach

August 3 at 12:43 AM

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

To joeyjones@southalabama.edu Tony Waldrop  CC Richard Hayes

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent, Tim Tebow

Coach Jones,

We’ve met before in the parking lot at the Jubilee Starbucks in Daphne, years ago. I’m launching the follow organization on campus to help students who are diagnosed with a learning disability. Some of your student/athletes might qualify and be interested in participating.

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent (CDT) is a platform for college students who suffer from a learning disability to openly discuss and learn about all things positive regarding dyslexia, which leads to one’s personal growth and healing while in a safe environment. Over the course of the school year, we’ll seek to explore and uncover each student’s hidden strengths and talents that leads to them gaining confidence and becoming a stronger student as they regain their ambition, creativity and curiosity to learn while helping them find their purpose for living. Above all, the Center for Dyslexia and Talent believes that dyslexia is a gift.

I plan to invite successful people to come speak at our evening meetings during the school year to tell their story or to explain their talents. Some will be dyslexic while others won’t. I just inquired with Tim Tebow’s speaking agency. Like me, Tim is dyslexic. His speaking fee is at or over $50,001. I don’t know if they will come off that number or not.

If we opened the event to the public for one night in the Fall of 2017 or Spring of 2018 or Fall of 2018, as Head Football Coach would you be interested in having your team hear Tim’s amazing story while using your contacts to help raise the money through underwriting and sponsorship for his speaking fee, airfare, hotel and food? Maybe the other head coaches would be interested in having their teams hear Tim’s story, as well. If would be great to have him speak only days before your next football game while he’s in the area doing TV for the SEC network, this fall or next.

For more information about the group, go to the Facebook page: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

For more information about me, go to www.tedburnett.com

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent is coming soon to the University of South Alabama.

 

Enjoy,

Ted Burnett


Email #14 to Mr. Jay Leno

Published on August 21, 2017

Mr. Jay Leno: A group of dyslexic college students seek meeting with you…

Ted Burnett

Founder of the Center for Dyslexia and Talent

To: Mr. Jay Leno

P.O. Box 7458

Burbank, CA 91510

August 20, 2017

Mr. Leno,

I see where you’ll be performing on Friday night at 8 pm, on September 15, 2017 at the Beau Rivage Theater, in Biloxi, MS. I live one-hour away. This school year, I launched the Center for Dyslexia and Talent (CDT) on the campus of the University of South Alabama, in Mobile, AL. Is it possible to bring a group of dyslexic college students before your Friday night show to meet you and hear your story as it relates to dyslexia, both, your struggles and your overwhelming success? You give the rest of us much hope on our journey.

Facebook page: “The Center for Dyslexia and Talent”

About:

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent (CDT) is a platform where college students who suffer from a learning disability can openly discuss and learn about all things positive regarding dyslexia, which leads to one’s healing and personal growth while in an intimate and safe environment. Any and all related-subjects will be explored including our childhood experiences and memories as students in elementary and high school, discussing the pain and fear that dyslexia has instilled in us as students and people. CDT is a support group where we’ll share our tricks for surviving school daily, identifying our lifelong weaknesses, which made school difficult, if not outright impossible. Over the course of the school year, we’ll learn how to become expert problem solvers, both, simple and complex ones that leads to our own personal truth and wisdom. We’ll explore and uncover our hidden strengths and natural talents that lead to us regaining our confidence while becoming stronger students as we recover our ambition, creativity and curiosity to learn and live while marching towards our life’s calling. Above all, the Center for Dyslexia and Talent believes that dyslexia is a gift and we admire all those who have it.

University of South Alabama

Email #1 to the president.

Re: Seeking a meeting with you this summer?

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

 

To

president@southalabama.edu Ted Burnett

May 16 at 8:34 PM

 

President Waldrop,

I would like to come talk to you, at your convenience, about an issue that’s affected my whole life, dyslexia, and see how the university is currently handling students diagnosed with it.  I have an idea.  I also want to discuss another idea for creating a problem solving and opportunity course. What would it take to turn this idea into a single course or as an elective?  At 46, I’ve found that most adults, both, men and women, both, professional and workers don’t know how to solve personal and professional problems in a healthy way — where its a problem from the past involving a sibling or maybe negotiating an opportunity (love, a new job, a divorce, a big sale…) with emotional strength that produces wisdom.  This is an experiential learning where past actions and consequences (produce pain or pleasure) serving as building blocks (DNA) for how to handle the current troubles.  After a few years of application, the result is wiser people, smarter people.

 

To my knowledge, Harvard and Yale don’t offer this course.

Enjoy,
Ted Burnett

 

Email #2 to the president.

Re: Famous People with Dyslexia — the case for why South Alabama should rethink its approach towards students with dyslexia

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

To

president@southalabama.edu Ted Burnett

June 12 at 5:55 PM

Re: ROBERT WOODRUFF DIES; BUILT COCA-COLA EMPIRE

 

Dr. Waldrop,

I wrote to you several weeks ago seeking a meeting to discuss an issue close to my heart — dyslexia. At the age of 46, it has affected my entire life. It affected my performance throughout school. Any plans of going to law school were diminished while at Auburn. Dyslexia abbreviated my sales career after nine years and along the way I had a breakdown and a breakthrough.  I began writing, at 32, for the first time, ever.  I took and scored a 142 on an IQ test.

Attached is a list of famous people with dyslexia.  The categories that they come from looks like a college with its departments and schools.  How many of these types would make your school’s performance look like Harvard, as well as, USA’s endowment.  The following story should make my point what one dyslexic do in the world of commerce and for a university.

Robert Woodruff was a student at Emory College around the turn of the century.  Do to poor grades Emory kicked him out.  Robert had always envisioned Atlanta being a world-class city with a top university.  He went to work for his father when he bought Coca Cola.  Robert rose to President of Coca Cola during 1930’s-60’s.  He left Emory University $200 million.  Is this a rare story about dyslexics or rather common?  If you could identify one segment of your student population to help them get through school and possibly get this kind of a return on your time and energy, what kind of a hero might your tenure make you at South?  A lot of us try college, but given our history we usually drop out.

It’s been said that, both, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are/were dyslexia.  Both dropped out to start their respective companies — Apple and Microsoft.

See my attachment on famous people with dyslexia.  It’s a who’s who.

Enjoy,

Ted Burnett

 

Email #3 to the president.

June 24, 2017

 

Re:

Dr. Tony G. Waldrop, President

University of South Alabama

Mobile, AL 36688

Dr. Waldrop,

(My proposal is on page 5.)

There’s a saying outside of education and maybe inside the houses of troubled students and that is the “A” students work for the “B” students, the “B” students work for the “C” students and the “D” students put their name on the building. Is it true? At least, that’s what Paul Orfalea’s mother told him while he was struggling in high school due to dyslexia. (I remember a neighbor of mine being told the same thing by his mother, one day, in their house.) Paul was kicked out of practically every high school in Los Angeles, CA.

One school official stated to his mother that Paul should try carpet laying. His mom wouldn’t hear of it. At the USC Marshall Business School, Paul made the team’s copies in exchange for them doing the rest of the project. As the story goes Paul got a gem of an idea while standing in aiijuneline waiting for his turn at the copy machine. With a loan of $5,000 from his parents, Paul opened his first copy shop selling to college kids, in 1970. Because of his curly hair his family and friends knew him as “Kinko’s”. In 2004, FedEx paid $2.4 billion for Kinko’s.

In 2000, Orfalea established the Orfalea Family Foundation that deals with differences in learning, care in early life stages, knowledge-giving programs that span the needs of multiple generations, and training for caregiving.[4] The Orfalea Foundation, as it is now known, focuses on early childhood education, K-college education, and youth development, primarily in Santa Barbara County, California. The foundation is known for taking direct action as well as making grants… In 2001, the California Polytechnic State University’s College of Business was renamed the Orfalea College of Business, in recognition of his $15 million gift to the school.

The following is my story as a student and child going through elementary school, high school, college into my brief career as a salesman and now as a writer of ten years. I would expect this experience to be typical of most dyslexics who go to elementary school and high school before attempting college. Anyone with a learning disability who joins a fraternity or sorority in their first year I would expect them to fail out from too much partying and drinking especially at the big schools like Alabama and Auburn. There’s too much pressure to please one’s brothers and sisters for a freshman to handle. I don’t have all the answers to my project, but I do believe an untapped gold mine is passing right through your university and others like it because the nature of academia is to reward the “A” students while ignoring the “C” or “D” students or even the dropouts.

The “A” student is maximizing his or her abilities on each and every paper, quiz and test; the “C” and “D” students potential has yet to be expressed or unleashed and if it ever is just watch out. They’ll become a natural industry leader and just maybe a household name. Alabama for all its players will have only a few drafted and have an opportunity to play. How many of these signed players give back to the university while their playing in the NFL or after their career is over and the money is no longer rolling in. These dyslexics are going to work for 40 years and over time their chances at finding real success and making real money only gets better.

My Story

My interest in dyslexia began when a psychometrist at the University of South Alabama diagnosed me with “dyslexia”. I was seven years old and in the second grade at St. Ignatius Catholic School, in Spring Hill. I don’t remember another word she said. However, I would come to know, all too well, the pain and suffering caused by dyslexia in the years that followed. Early on, I was unable to read, to do reading comprehension exercises, to spell or to even write a simple “thank you” note without leaving words out of my sentences or substituting the wrong word, entirely. I had to attend summer school three years in a row. I got my first tutor in the fourth grade and I would continue to need them all the way through high school and college.

My mind often thinks of one word while my hand and pen are known to write down something else. School was never easy or fun. It left me feeling embarrassed. I was constantly on guard. School instilled a lot of fear in me. There were many nights while in grade school where I went to bed hoping to sleep through the following school day, in order, to miss a test or not turn in an assignment that I had not completed. Whatever curiosity and ambition I was born with as a child was beaten out of me by school caused by the frustrations of poor scores on assignments and low test scores with the passing of years. Every time our teacher would have us read a paragraph or two out loud, I had to figure out what two paragraphs that I would have to read before it was my turn and quietly read them to myself, repeatedly. I had no confidence in my ability to read and I didn’t want to tip off my teacher or my fellow classmates by reading a wrong or the sentence wrong. Frequently, I had no clue what I was reading. It didn’t matter, as long as, it sounded good and it didn’t alert my teacher of my strategy.

School made me angry, hurt and demoralized. I experienced a lot of depression. Seeing that I couldn’t take my anger out on my teachers or the school, I channeled my frustrations into aggression during gym class., organized football and basketball practice and games. School was a pressure cooker, it was the very thing that keeps dyslexics struggling rather than being free to think and dream big in class. What comes easy to the “A”, “A-B” students is often difficult for me and all those with a learning disability. We, “C” students, are doing marginal work when we’re really capable of doing great work. Unfortunately, every school creates its own curriculum with all of these hoops that have to be cleared in order to pass the course, pass the grade level and finally to get the school’s diploma. Students have no say so on the design of the curriculum and for all the credit hours required to graduate students have maybe two electives to choose from.

I attended Auburn University in Montgomery (1990-91) at the suggestion of my counselor with the Alabama Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. I was one of several students in my senior class at McGill-Toolen High School to get a “scholarship” to attend college and went to AUM. The state paid for our tuition, books, books on tape, tutors and fees for all four years. AUM had a small student population unlike Auburn University. However, it was a suitcase college and thus pretty quiet on the weekends. After my first year, I transferred to Auburn. I had originally declared my major as “political science” because I had always liked politics, American history and the founding of our country. I had hoped to attend law school with the plans of one day getting into politics.

At AUM, I got a “D” in communications class. I was a poor writer. When I got to Auburn, I was required to retake that course where I barely squeaked out a “C”. After passing the class, I did some soul searching. I concluded that in my junior and senior years of political science, I would be required to write more papers and give speeches. All evidence pointed to me being bad at both. I could have failed out. I made a strategic move and changed majors to forestry where it was heavy on math and science, but light on writing papers and giving speeches. In reality, I had to only give one speech and one paper to graduate. I had tutors in numerous math and calculus classes. After four years of heavy drinking in high school, I got sober my junior year and I remained sober while a student at Auburn. Because school was such a challenge, I didn’t participate in any clubs or fraternities. Had I drank in college I would have most likely washed out of school during my first year? My father, a Vietnam Veteran with a learning disability, failed out of The University of Alabama. His failure led to my decision to go to Auburn.

I graduated from Auburn (1995) not realizing how much fear was driving my life. In 1996, I worked for the next nine years in the corporate world selling a host of products and services for seven different firms and getting fired four times due to dyslexia. In 2002, I got married and had a nervous breakdown during wedding weekend under the career pressures and stressors. After my first hospitalization, I started writing for the first time, ever. I took an online IQ test and scored a 142, which was up from 100 in the eighth grade. That May, Fortune’s cover story was about CEOs with dyslexia and my boss turned me on to the story. It was the first time in my life where I learned that dyslexia had an upside along with a list of famous people. I was 32 years old. Following my divorce and getting kicked out of graduate school for counseling at South, I started writing for only the second time in my life, at the age of 36 (2007).

I took away from graduate school that I could successfully debate with my professors. Rather than shop each political and social commentary with newspapers, magazines and journals and be confronted by their gatekeepers, I decided to build my own audience. I wrote to three universities in Louisiana introducing myself to a dozen faculty members at LSU, Tulane and UNO. I received two emails back on the same day where professors insulted me and my effort. Today, I write to over 15,000 professors teaching at some ninety to one hundred colleges and universities. Some forty-five are considered world-class, in thirteen countries. I write to MIT, MIT Sloan, to all eight Ivy League schools where some 2,000 teach at Harvard University. I share my work with five undergraduate programs History, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology and Theology and Business, Kennedy, Law, Medical and Public Health schools.

In 2009, I heard from Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren when she submitted three of my essays to her committee that she chaired, in Washington. Each time, I got an email from the Congressional Oversight Panel, which was responsible for tracking down the T.A.R.P money following the 2008 global credit crisis and how banks spent it. In 2011, I heard from an associate of Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter thanking me for sharing one of my essays on “Corporate consciousness”. Lastly, in 2014, I heard from Dennis Norman, Ed., Chair of Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital, in the Harvard Medical School. In the ten years, my work has repeatedly been praised, shared and in one case quoted by a graduate student at Penn. I’ve never once asked for an accolade from anyone. My website is full of them. All from the same kid who was lucky enough to pass his classes with “Cs”. I trust that God has me where he wants me. I would like to see dyslexics learn in college what I only learned after my breakdown at 32.

Only in my adult life (at 46) have I come to learn more about dyslexia and its impact on my earlier life. Today, I know that I have short-term memory issues making it difficult to remember names, phone numbers, addresses and trouble writing information down correctly and timely without asking the teacher or another party to repeat themselves. After the third or fourth time, I get embarrassed and just give up. I now suspect that my short-term memory impacted my performance listening to lectures, taking notes, studying for tests, taking tests and the many tasks associated with sales and working.

For the dyslexic, school is a very emotionally searing experience and entering college can be very intimidating. When you have so such bad history with school one’s confidence is low or shoot and one’s self-criticism can be very high with little room for making mistakes. The ego keeps one from asking for help in a timely manner. How do you replace twelve years of bad history by giving yourself a chance and establishing some good history that leads to one’s confidence growing while reawakening the dyslexics’ curiosity and ambition?

Dyslexics are one segment of your student population (One in five students has dyslexia (elementary school), (college ??) who are generally considered to be “C” students or worse and for the most part, they’re going unnoticed and under the faculty’s radar. However, if they discover one of their talents the sky is the limit on what they can do in the world. Their output doesn’t simply go to that of the “A” student it’s more like them becoming “AAA” students, which is something that your university’s grading scale and others doesn’t measure for. I’m not sure if you looked at the list of famous people, but their talents can be found in every department and school in your campus.

Yale University’s Drs. Bennett and Sally Shaywitz study dyslexia at The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, at Yale University. Several years ago, they were invited to give a presentation, at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland on dyslexia and what they have learned. The Shaywitz didn’t understand why they were even invited until every King, President and CEO pulled them aside to discuss their own personal problems with dyslexia.

Their story at Davos is below.

Fortune magazine, May 13, 2002, Cover story – CEOs with dyslexia

http://archive.fortune.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2002/05/13/322876/index.htm

The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity – “Transforming dyslexia from a liability to an asset.”

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/article_print.php?a=DYS_secretsuccess

Wikipedia – A list of people diagnosed with dyslexia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_diagnosed_with_dyslexia

Wikipedia – Paul Orfalea

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Orfalea

The Proposal

I would like to see the University of South Alabama establish a program for developing and recruiting dyslexics to South that voluntarily brings these students from this unique population together from across the campus during the school year, either, on an academic and/or social basis. The goal is to help them address their past emotional and psychological wounds by coming together and talking. Reduce the pressure cooker atmosphere that school can frequently be on these students so that they can breathe, think and dream big. Help them regain their curiosity and their ambition in wanting to learn and grow, once again. Understand the strengths of dyslexia and its many famous people.

Bring a famous dyslexic to campus to tell their story to this group. USA could actively recruit students from across the state in the same way that Coach Joey Jones recruits players for the football program. Dyslexia is really a gift even if most academics and administrators don’t realize it. Dyslexia and the “C” student challenge the narrative that the scholarship should always go to the “A” student. Is South willing to think differently? The history of famous dyslexics is well established and the present is full of famous people living and their achievements are known. The future is coming will the University of South Alabama and the city of Mobile be a part of it?

Most of USA’s students come from Mobile, AL area. Over the past 40 years, Mobile’s economy has lost a lot of its headquartered companies and energy. To awaken one of these students to their talents while still in college could lead to the next Facebook, Uber… that could be launched right here in Mobile. What could that mean in terms of the school’s and city’s reputation, # of jobs created and the foundation money that might be injected back into this community?

I was recently told that Mobile’s United Way campaign goal, for 2017, had fallen to only $6 million while Birmingham’s is set at $35 million.

About Ted Burnett

I’m an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, governors and lawmakers), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: www.tedburnett.com

 

Email #4 to the president.

July 8, 2017

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

Dr. Waldrop,

I hope I provided you with some compelling information on dyslexia that you’ve never seen or heard before while making a case for creating something special on South Alabama’s campus. Since learning about the upside of dyslexia, in 2002, I’ve continued to learn more about the symptoms and the names of the famous who have it. In 2000, actress Julia Roberts played the role of a down and out legal assistant named Erin Brockovich who was twice-divorced and raising three young children. Suffering from injuries caused in a car wreck a law firm reluctantly hired her. While at work and filling in for a coworker who was out of the office, Erin was given a case file on a real estate closing to review.

Inside the file was a set of medical records, Erin thought that was strange. She thought enough of the medical records to drive out to Hinkley, CA to meet the homeowners only to find out that they were sick and that PG&E was quietly buying out the remaining residents of this small town because as the state’s largest utility, they had knowingly polluted the town’s water supply with chromium 6 and kept it a secret for several decades. Erin was instrumental in putting together the largest environmental class-action suit in the state’s history, which resulted in a settlement with the utility company for $333 million, in 1996. The two partners at Erin’s law firm rewarded her efforts with a $1 million check. Erin is also dyslexic and her story like so many others has made her a household name.

In recent years, filmmaker Steven Spielberg learned that he too was dyslexic. After a highly-successful career as a filmmaker. Steven formed Dreamworks SKG with record mogul David Geffen and former Disney Executive Jeffery Katzenberg. Steven is best known for films like… Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Poltergeist, The Color Purple, Schindler’s List… They say on Wall Street about the movie business, its either invest in Steven Spielberg or Disney. In 1970, Geffen formed Asylum Records signing acts like Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon… In 1980, he formed Geffen Records, DGC Records (in 1990) and Dreamworks SKG, in 1994. In 2001, David Geffen gave $200 million to UCLA School of Medicine in unrestricted funds.

Lastly, Jeffrey Katzenberg served as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios from 1984 to 1994 during which the studio reinvigorated its live-action and animation divisions, as well as producing some of its biggest hits, including The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Under Katzenberg’s leadership, he was responsible for 80 percent of Walt Disney Studios profits. And if you were wondering yes, both, Geffen and Katzerberg are dyslexic.

Dreamworks is one of the most successful film studios in Hollywood history. It was started in 1994 by media mogu…

Academia may want to believe one thing about this group of students as it relates to “A” and “B” students while I’ve just provided you with story after story and solid evidence that speaks to the contrary and leaves many of these dyslexics laughing all the way to the bank over what the education system said to them about their “futures”.

Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Geffen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Geffen_School_of_Medicine_at_UCLA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Katzenberg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Spielberg


Email #5 the president’s answer.

July 26, 2017

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

Mr. Burnett,

The University of South Alabama provides support to students who need additional help. To create a center for dyslexia is an excellent goal. However, we have to make decisions about numerous great ideas based upon the resources we have. At this point in time, it is not possible to create such a center.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

President

University of South Alabama

____________________________________________________________

Email #6 my reply to the president.

 

July 26, 2017

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

Dr. Waldrop,

Thanks for writing back. Last week, I read about South’s new “honors college” coming to the campus, I can only imagine how much that will cost the university to implement and I can only wonder whose ego that really strokes — the universities, students, parents? We, dyslexics, learn to work with less, pay attention and as a result we’re usually steps ahead of our competition as demonstrated by all the fame, influence and wealth that so many of us have.

On a sad note, the education system has repeatedly lied to us while blowing smoke up the skirts of their honors students. Looks like more money and fluff is going to the top of the student body and not a dime more for the one demographic with a proven track record of extraordinary success. That makes no sense except when it comes to feeding egos.

Clearly, you didn’t believe the stories that I sent to you otherwise your reply would be different. It wasn’t “your” data, it didn’t fit your theory. That’s unfortunate for your students, for the university and for the city of Mobile. Over the past decade, American colleges and universities ripped off students and taxpayers with skyrocketing tuition (debt). Wake up to the truth!

It was a crime where no university president went to jail for delivering the same basic educational product to their students. I’m sure presidents and their administrators told themselves on pay day that no one got hurt. Will they did and they still are. Colleges and universities are going out of business, just not fast enough!

Ted

Note: Following Dr. Waldrop “No”, I took the project to USA’s faculty (some 90 professors) via email and then I took the cause to social media in the subsequent days.  See below.

Email #7 to the USA faculty.

Re: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent — My pitch to Dr. Tony Waldrop at South Alabama

 

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

 

To

 

Ted Burnett

 

CC

 

awilliams@usouthal.edu cbogar@usouthal.edu cguest@usouthal.edu cwilson@usouthal.edu imcintos@usouthal.edu and 90 more…

 

Jul 27 at 9:31 PM

 

Over the past month, I pitched an idea to Dr. Tony Waldrop, via email for a program to bring dyslexic students together once a week, once month as a support group, educate them on the strengths of dyslexia.  Helping students get over their fears while building confidence is critical to developing them into solid students who become ambitious, creative and curious, once again. What’s the cost to have a meeting in a room at the student union — pizza and coke?  What’s so special about this group.  First, dyslexia is the only learning disability that can be tested using an MRI.  Secondly, this is the only demographic who can be singled out for becoming extraordinary successful in every fields that any university offers courses in from acting/theater, to business, law, political science, to writers and not just any, but the best!

 

Google “famous people with dyslexia”.  The list of famous, power and wealthy, both, past and present is simply over the top and they frequently support their Alma mater and local university with sizable donations.  We all know the universities run on a lot of money.  There’s compelling evidence to support a program like this one that no other state university in Alabama offers and the rewards for being first, for all involved could have great returns.

 

Only Yale University, The Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, has a similar project in place that I know of.  My argument for the center is made in emails #1 and #2.  Emails #3 and #4 is my request for an answer and my frustrations to getting a “No”.  Its estimated that one in five school children have dyslexia.  At the college level, its probably fewer.  At any rate, I hope you find the stories interesting and helpful for those of you who have child or grandchild with dyslexia.  Please share this information.

 

I hope the faculty will give this project some consideration.  The need for a club, a center or whatever is a worthy cause to a group use to not getting any positive feedback.  Dyslexia is a gift.  However, talk with any adult with dyslexia about their school experience and you’ll have no problem causing them to cry.  The issues run deep, the pain remains and for most they’ve never talk about how stupid school made them feel, not once, not one year but all twelve years.  I know now that I came out of Auburn and I entered into the corporate world full of fear caused by my time in elementary school — repeating the fifth grade.  At 46, its taken a longtime to workout those emotions and that’s cost my health, a career and a marriage.  For the past 10 years, I have been writing essays playing catch up for lost time.

Mobile is in desperate need of new ideas, new corporate companies headquartered here, real jobs with real paychecks and not simply warehousing other companies’ products while their employees come to work barefooted along with their dogs at the corporate office, in Seattle or San Francisco.  The dyslexics are the entrepreneurs (the risk takers) that the “honors students” aren’t.  I attended Auburn University in the early 1990’s.  I was enrolled in the School of Forestry, which had an honors college.  Out of my class of 60 students, some six were in the honors program.  I hung out with two of them.  Both went on to the University of Alabama Law School where one practices in Birmingham and the other doesn’t.  You’ll probably never know their names or their accomplishments.   They were “A” students at Auburn, but in the real world they fell-in line with the rest of the crowd.  They’re not setting the world on fire. The institution known as education is so caught up with its many fallacies that’s doing a lot of harm to kids. Today, school systems no longer know what or how to teach to our kids.  It’s a mess.

 

Enjoy,
Ted Burnett
_________________________________________________

Here came my “approval” or green light for my project and to be on campus…

Email #8 from Rachael Bolden to me.

Re::Reply from USA’s Student Center…

Rachael Bolden <rabolden@southalabama.edu>

To

tebjr1@yahoo.com

July 31 at 4:20 PM

Hi Mr. Burnett,

I was forwarded an email inquiring about the cost to rent a room in the Student Center. Here is the Pricing & Capacities of our rooms. As far as food goes, our caterer is Aramark. They can be reached at (251)460-7948. The do also have an online ordering system to look at pricing. Here is that link: Campus Dish.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Thanks

Rachael Bolden

Associate Director

Student Center

P: (251) 460-6196

F: (251) 414-8256

University of South Alabama

Student Center

350 Campus Dr RM 150

Mobile, AL 36688

We met on August 2 where we were given a tour by a student of the different room configurations and prices. We also paid a visit to the Marx Library where they have several free rooms before paying a visit to the Student Disabilities Services. The director was out of the office. I grab one of her cards and emailed her later that day. See below… (August 2)

___________________________________________

 

Email #9 to the president.

Re: USA Student Disability Services and Dr. Andrea Agnew

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

To

Tony Waldrop

CC

aagnew@southalabama.edu Jeanne Maes joeyjones@southalabama.edu Owen Bailey Richard Hayes

Aug 16 at 6:05 PM

Dr. Waldrop,

On August 2, 2017, while on your campus visiting USA’s Student Center to check out the meeting rooms and their rates, I also paid a visit to the Student Disability Services office seeking an opportunity to meet with your director, Dr. Andrea Agnew. I was told that she wasn’t available at that moment. I left with her contact information. Later that day, I wrote an email to her where I got a notice that “she would be back in the office: August 7, 2017 and she would quickly return phone calls”. On the 8th, I wrote another email following up with Dr. Agnew. I got no response.

On the 11th, I called her office leaving a message. I wrote another email to Dr. Agnew where I got no reply. On Wednesday the 16th, I called her office where I left another message. I understand that school started this week and that she is busy. What I’m seeking from Dr. Agnew and her Student Disability Services is a face to face meeting, her support for the project and help in making students with dyslexia aware of its existence, as well as, a free meeting space somewhere on campus.

Enjoy,

Ted Burnett

 

 

Ted Burnett <tebjr1@yahoo.com>

______________________________________________________

 

Email #10 to Associate Dean to the Students and Director, Student Disability Services Dr. Andrea Agnew.

To

aagnew@southalabama.edu disabilityservices@southalabama.edu Ted Burnett

CC

Tony Waldrop

Aug 2 at 5:43 PM

Dr. Agnew,

I’m seeking a meeting with you to discuss my plans to start a non-profit, support group, this fall, for USA students with learning disabilities to meet on campus, in after hours, and I would like your office’s support. The following link provides more details and my goals for the project. Over the past several weeks, I made a pitch for this idea to Dr. Waldrop. At 46, I am dyslexic and I know both the high cost that comes from not understanding one’s weaknesses, as well as, how it relates to dyslexia and the joy of finding one’s talents and finally tasting success.

I couldn’t write for the first 32 years of my life. I still struggle with public speaking. Since 2007, I’ve been writing political and social commentary to an audience of 18,000 global contacts via email. I’m dyslexic and I still leave words out of my sentences and my short-term memory is poor. Reading and editing my work are still a challenge for me, but my writing has become interesting to read.

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent is coming soon to the University of South Alabama.

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent (CDT) is a platform for college students who suffer from a learning disabilit…

Famous People with Dyslexia…

The Center for Dyslexia and Talent is coming soon to the University of South Alabama.

_________________________________________________________

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/article_print.php?a=DYS_secretsuccess

A FEW YEARS AGO, SALLY SHAYWITZ and her husband, Bennett, were invited to travel to Davos, Switzerland, to give a presentation at the World Economic Forum, the glitzy annual gathering of the planet’s most influential people. Bill Gates, CEOs, kings, presidents, and entertainers have attended it. But Sally, who is a co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, and her husband, also an expert on dyslexia, were a little perplexed by the invitation.“My husband said, ‘What are we going to do there?’” she recalls. But after they gave their lecture on dyslexia, it became quite apparent that many in the audience had a keen personal interest in the topic. “After [the presentation], we couldn’t walk through the halls without some head of state or CEO pulling us aside and saying, ‘Can I talk to you?’” says Shaywitz, who is the author of Overcoming Dyslexia.

What those highly accomplished people wanted to discuss, albeit discreetly, was their reading ability or, more accurately, the difficulty they have reading— one of the telltale symptoms of the disorder.

Believed to be related to how one’s brain is wired, dyslexia often manifests itself not only as trouble reading but also as difficulty with spelling, writing, learning foreign languages, and organization. For a long time, people with dyslexia were considered to be, well, dumb, since reading quickly and well in our society is considered an indicator of intelligence. But what has become obvious— evidenced by the sheer number of dyslexic World Economic Forum attendees in Davos and by plenty of research— not only that dyslexics can be, and often are, brilliant, but that many develop far superior abilities in some areas than their so-called normal counterparts.

“Dyslexia is surrounded by these strengths of higher cognitive and linguistic functioning, reasoning, conceptual abilities, and problem solving,” says Shaywitz. “There are so many positive areas in dyslexia and so many strengths.”

Perhaps no evidence of the often extraordinary abilities of dyslexics is as compelling as a quick roll call of some people who have it: investor Charles Schwab; Paul Orfalea, who created the copy chain Kinko’s; John Chambers of Cisco Systems; author John Irving; and former West Virginia governor Gaston Caperton. Even Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein are believed to have had dyslexia. While dyslexics have excelled in many areas, there seems to be a strong connection between the disorder and business success, particularly entrepreneurial. In fact, Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, released a study in 2007 that reported that more than a third of the American entrepreneurs she surveyed said they were dyslexic—a dramatic proportion in comparison with the estimated 10 percent of the overall U.S. population that deals with the disorder.

What’s particularly interesting about Logan’s findings is that dyslexics, because they face difficulty navigating their way through school, often develop just the kind of skills they’ll eventually need to launch and grow their own businesses. Logan calls these soft skills, and they include the ability to delegate, excellent oral communication, problem-solving skills, and perseverance. “The ability to attack problems and solve them is essential when one is creating a new venture, so the dyslexic who has had to overcome problems to survive at school has much experience in this area,” says Logan. “[People who are dyslexic] are also already used to persevering in the face of difficulty.” In addition, Logan points out that some dyslexics in her study indicated that having had trouble in school was one of the things that motivated them to succeed later in life.

HUNT LOWRY RECOGNIZES IN HIMSELF many of the traits Logan identified in her study. An extremely successful movie producer—his films include A Time to Kill, The Last of the Mohicans, and A Cinderella Story, among many others—Lowry grew up in Oklahoma City and had so much trouble reading and writing that he had to repeat third grade. He was fortunate that his dyslexia was diagnosed early, at age nine, and that he received special education to help him with school. Like other dyslexics, he still faced plenty of challenges, including any task that involved hand-eye coordination, such as tying his shoes. So Lowry learned to delegate. “I was Tom Sawyer very quickly on,” he says. “It took a little bit of diplomacy to teach kids in second and third grade to tie my shoes and make it seem like it was a good deal.”

Being able to delegate and, more broadly, to think of creative solutions to problems has been a big asset for Lowry. So, too, has the fact that, like many dyslexics, he doesn’t approach dilemmas in a linear way. He describes the way his brain works when he’s analyzing a script and trying to make it better as going around in a figure eight, rather than proceeding directly from A to B to C. “Anything is possible,” he says. “The way my brain flows, it doesn’t flow directly to the problem, and you find a lot of useful stuff along the way.” Both Schwab and Chambers have spoken about how they often see the solution to problems right away, long before anyone with a step-by-step process gets there. Irving told Shaywitz that he actually begins his books with the last sentence before going back to the beginning. “People who are dyslexic see the big picture, and then they work in, rather than start from, the minute details and work up,” says Shaywitz.

As is the case with a lot of dyslexics, Emerson Dickman employed creative methods to get through school, including, he says, learning that reading teachers was often as vital as reading the books they assigned; figuring out what they thought was important meant never, ever missing class. Still, Dickman, who is a lawyer and the president of the International Dyslexia Association, struggled, staying back in first grade because of his difficulty reading. From an early age, though, he realized that he had to face his fears if he was to have any hope of future success. Thanks to his experience trying to read in front of his elementary school class—when he would “choke and gag” until the teacher finally told him to sit down—Dickman had an overwhelming terror of public speaking. Rather than avoid those situations, he sought them out. “Even as young as in the seventh and eighth grade, I would run for class office, knowing that I would probably lose but that sometime in the next three or four weeks, I would have to talk to a group of people,” recalls Dickman.

In some ways, dyslexics may be drawn to start their own ventures as a last resort, since the corporate world doesn’t always value their strengths. “I think it can be very hard for dyslexics in the corporate world, as they struggle with systems,” says the Cass Business School’s Logan. In the same way that schools evaluate students in one standard way, so, too, do corporations. In both cases, Shaywitz believes society as a whole is missing out on the talents dyslexics offer simply because we have a blunt approach to evaluating skills. “It’s so frustrating to see what people who are dyslexics are capable of and to see society’s misunderstanding,” she says. “The things that dyslexics don’t do well, like read quickly, are what we measure in school. We measure those in tests like the SAT, the MCAT, the GRE, and the LSAT.”

While there are plenty of people, like Lowry, Dickman and Schwab and Orfalea, who persist and overcome obstacles. There are plenty who don’t. That’s why Shaywitz and others are trying to educate parents, teachers, medical professionals, and the general public about the importance of identifying dyslexia early and providing the proper educational tools and assistance.

Despite the difficulties he faced early on in school as a dyslexic, Lowry feels that having dyslexia has been a benefit. “There were some hard times, especially in those early years, when you’re not keeping up in the classroom with your peers; that is tough,” he says. “But I really do look at it as a gift.”

CHRIS WARREN is a writer based in Santa Monica, California.

 

Ted Burnett’s partial biography (www.tedburnett.com)

 

I’m an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, governors and lawmakers), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes.

Since February 2007, I have been living life as a philosopher and writer. Each month, I produce a commentary on business, political, social and spiritual matters. My following has grown to over eighteen thousand contacts including heads of state, their foreign ministers and their ambassadors to the U.S., attorneys, business executives, clergy, major foundations (Kettering, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations Network, Peter G. Peterson, Pew Charitable Trust, Rockefeller, Charles and Helen Schwab and the Turner Foundation), governors, state and federal judges and lawmakers, media and Washington DC policy institutes of which fourteen thousand are PhDs teaching at more than ninety colleges and universities, in thirteen countries — the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuwait.

Among the schools are forty-five world-class universities with over eleven thousand physicians, professors and researchers at Harvard College, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health (over 2,000), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MIT Sloan School of Management, Yale College, Yale Law School, Stanford, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford Law School, UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley School of Law, Princeton, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Columbia, Columbia Business School, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia Law School, Penn, The Wharton School (Penn), Penn Law School, Penn Medical School, Duke, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Chicago, Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago Law School, Cornell, Cornell Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business, NYU School of Law, Brown, Emory, Emory Law School, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Virginia (UVa), UVa Darden School of Business, UVa Law School, UCLA Anderson School of Management, UCLA School of Law, USC Marshall School of Business, USC School of Law, Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Tufts’ The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Dartmouth, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business, Cambridge, Cambridge Faculty of Law, Oxford, Oxford Faculty of Law, University College London (UCL), UCL Faculty of Law, London Business School, London School of Economics, Trinity College Dublin, INSEAD, École Normale Supérieure-Paris (ENS-Paris), École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Amsterdam Faculty of Law, Leiden, ETH Zurich, Freie Universität Berlin, Toronto, McGill, British Columbia, Australian National University (ANU), ANU College of Law, ANU School of Public Policy, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the University of Hong Kong (HKU), HKU Business and Economics, HKU Faculty of Law. Among the entire audience, my retention rate exceeds 99.7% (as of 2017).

Here is what some in my audience are saying about my work…

Here is what some in my audience are saying about my work…

“Incredible Read! Fantasic Insight of Bipolar Manic Disorder Mental Illness… Helping to Better Undetstand My Ex’s and Children’s Father’s Dignoses. I Would Love to continue to read other essays and writings of yours… They are Inspiring for many and more reasons than I am able to mention here.

Thank You, Please do not take offense of my Georgia Residency :)”

— Kathy

Dahlongea, GA

May 3, 2017 (an email response to my essay —“A Low-Speed Chase through Georgia”)

“Very well written Ted!”

— Jerry Carl

Mobile County (Alabama) Commission, District 2

Mobile, AL

November 14, 2016 (an email response to my essay — “GulfQuest: God is in the details.“)

“Ted,

Thanks for the link to your article on the airport. Your thought process and writing skills are excellent and should be read by all.”

— Harold R. Lanier

Fairhope, AL

November 1, 2016 (an email response to my essay — “Air passenger traffic continues to fall at the Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), in 2015.”)

“Ted, Thanks for sharing your insightful commentary with me. All the best for 2016. Cordially, John”

— John D. Kasarda, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Air Commerce

Kenan-Flagler Business School

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC

January 1, 2016 (an email response to my essay — “That won’t fly!”)

“Hi Ted… BTW, I saw you’re film — great job!

All the best,”

— Patrick [Creadon]

Film director and writer of Wordplay, I.O.U.S.A., If You Build It..

Los Angeles, CA

September 10, 2015 (an email response to my film — “In the company of geniuses”)

“Dear Mr. Burnett,

…Your background and experience are exceptional, and we believe that you would make a strong contribution to this year’s program…”

— Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

August 10, 2015 (an email response to my application to the course: Emerging Leaders)

“Hey. I just watched your video on mental illness and genius v 2.0.  When I see someone like yourself putting information out like that it’s like a high 5 for myself because it gives myself more proof to be like hey people look at this, this is who made your world and you deny every bit of it without any knowledge of learning to know if this is true or not…”

— Travis Dobbin

Newfoundland/St. John’s, Canada

November 7, 2014 (an email response to my film — “In the company of geniuses”)

“Very interesting thanks.”

 — Alison Booth

Professor of Economics

College of Asia and the Pacific

Australian National University

Canberra, AU

October 28, 2014 (an email response to my essay — “Risk averse“)

“Dear Ted:

Thank you for writing. I have heard from many Americans whose lives have been affected by mental health issues, and I appreciate your perspective…”

— U. S. President Barack Obama, The United States of America (2008-17)

The White House

Washington, DC

October 8, 2014 (an email response to my video – “In the company of geniuses”)

“Interesting water that you thread in

thanks D”

– Dennis Norman, Ed.D., ABPP

Board Certified in Clinical and Child and Adolescent Psychology

Faculty Chair, Harvard University Native American Program

Chief of Psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Boston, MA

February 10, 2014 (an email response to my essay — “David and Goliath“)

“…But you certainly hit a nerve with your remarks about PBS, Mark Shields, et al…..I call Washington DC “Death Star” and with good reason. I’m sure you would agree. Nobody seems to care anymore where our country is headed. All we hear on TV networks is name calling, political demonizing, but nobody just talks about real solutions. I see CNN has started up the divisive “Crossfire,” where they have representatives of the “left” and the “right” instead of “Best Solutions”…..”

– Mark Skousen, PhD

Lexington, NY

November 3, 2013 (an email response to my essay — “President Obama — A loser coach managing a losing team.“)

“Nice job!”

– Hon. David M. Walker, the former United States Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) (1998-2008)

Bridgeport, CT

October 31, 2013 (an email response to my essay — “President Obama: A loser coach managing a losing team.“)

“Ted- Brilliant and Inspiring! “Can you stomach the truth?” “We are only as sick as or secrets!” “Pride can kill us and sadly it does.” This post by Ted Burnett is a must read. I love it! Maybe I’m amazed at how closely it follows the fine lines of thought I found while working on The Now Nexus or maybe I’m amazed by the Power of the SpiriTruth. But anyway this is an amazing confession. Thank you Ted.” 

– Don Peek

Entrepreneur/Author

Texarkana, TX

May 4, 2013 (an email response to my essay — What does it take to make democracy work as it should? )

“Dear Mr. Burnett:

Thank you for your emails and sharing your essays, which have been read with interest…

Your explanation to Kettering’s question “What does it take to make democracy work as it should?” is well taken. We appreciate your time to respond so thoroughly…”

– F. David Mathews, President

Kettering Foundation

Dayton, OH

April 9, 2013 (an email response to my essay — America – “She’s brain dead.”)

 

“Dear Ted,

Thank you for sharing this article. It captures the essence and well crafted. 

Warm regards,”

 

– Dipak C. Jain

Dean and The INSEAD Chaired Professor of Marketing

INSEAD

Fontainebleau, France

January 31, 2013 (an email response to my essay — America – “She’s brain dead.”)

“Hi Ted,

Thank you!”

– Karestan [C. Koenen], Associate Professor

Director, Psychiatric-Neurological Epidemiology Cluster Department of Epidemiology

Mailman School of Public Health

Columbia University

New York, NY

November 16, 2012 (an email response to my essay — The Huffington Post: “At the Heart of Climate Change”) 

“Ted, 

I just read your essay and did indeed enjoy it. It was thoughtful and certainly poignant. Actually, I agree with you whole-heartedly – unfortunately, we are in the minority for such thoughts. America is morally bankrupt. I work with the elderly and hear their stories and try to glean from their wisdom and life experience every day – I really treasure my time with my patients. Their mindset is so far from our generation’s thinking. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, insight, and talent with me. I hope you can become an increasing voice for our culture to take an honest look at ourselves. Your honesty and transparency is refreshing.”

– Mary Ann Adams, PT

Centura Healthcare

Denver, CO

October 17, 2012 (an email response to my essay — The Huffington Post: “Are we trying to cure the infection or the fever?”)

 “Hello,

I was forwarded your recent commentary by a clinical staff member at Perelman School of Medicine. I am currently taking a graduate course on Faith and Reason. I would like permission to use some of your insights and comments in my final paper for the class. I am planning on discussing in the paper the relationship, or lack of, faith and reason with healthcare.”

– Cindy Diogo, C.O.T.

Clinical Care Coordinator for Oculoplastics and Ocular Oncology

Scheie Eye Institute

Perelman School of Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

October 25, 2011 (an email response to my essay — “To: The Bazelon Center’s Exec. Director Robert Bernstein, PhD and its Board of Trustees ”)

“Dear Mr. Burnett, Thank you…for forwarding your piece to Professor [Michael E.] Porter…we found it interesting thinking and a good read.”

– Stacie Rabinowitz, Research Associate

The Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness

Harvard Business School

Cambridge, MA

June 21, 2011 (an email response to my essay — “Re: How would you reinvent Capitalism? (Corporate consciousness)”)

“Ted, I admire your perseverance. Things tend to work out for those who keep plugging away. Your stuff is solid. Good luck and best…”

– Steve LeVine, Contributing Editor

Foreign Policy magazine

Washington, DC

April 5, 2011

“…you are — of course — correct…”

– David Rosenbloom, Law Professor

New York University School of Law

New York, NY

October 3, 2010 (an email response to my essay — “Dear Jay Ambrose (his op-ed opposing tax increases)”)

“Dear Mr. Burnett, Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the Congressional Oversight Panel…”

– Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law Professor and Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel via the Harvard Law School

Cambridge, MA and Washington, DC

September 29, 2009 (a letter of acknowledgement for my essay, “Corporate consciousness”, submitted to COP by Warren)

 “Hi Ted, I enjoyed browsing in your site…”

– Jake Lynch, Associate Professor and Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

The University of Sydney (Australia)

May 5, 2009 (comment made in an email exchange.)

Added to audience in December 2008

“Love your blog. Always thought provoking…” “Keep up the good work.”

– Norman Fischer, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Clark-Atlanta University, Atlanta, GA

January 29, 2009 (an email in response to my essays — “Business as Usual?”) and “Success!”)

Added to audience in January 2008

“…There is serious talent there.”

– Joe Bullard, President of Joe Bullard Automotive, Mobile, AL

April 17, 2008 (a comment made to a mutual friend about me.)

Added to audience in August 2007

“…You obviously have a flair for writing as well as a keen perspective on the ever-changing Mobile and Alabama…”

– U.S. Representative Jo Bonner

1st Congressional District of Alabama

March 19, 2008 (an excerpt from Bonner’s hand-written note in response to my email to Mobile, AL Chamber of Commerce President Win Hallett — From the desk of U.S. Congressman Jo Bonner…)

Added to audience in November 2007

“Thanks for sending this essay, Ted. I am sharing it with the director of our Course of Study, Rev. Beth Luton.”

 

– Jan Love, Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics

Candler School of Theology

Emory University, Atlanta, GA

January 15, 2008 (an email in response to my essay – Freedom and Slavery – A Cycle of Life)

Added to audience in January 2008

“Thank you for sharing your essay with me. You have obviously given the subjects much thought.”

– Ben Brooks, Alabama state senator and Mobile, AL attorney

May 31, 2007 (an email in response to my essay –- [Alabama State] Senate Rules!)

Added to audience in May 2007

 

website: tedburnett.com/accolades

 

 

Ted Burnett

The role that dyslexia has played on my life:

At the age of 7, after having my vision and hearing checked, I was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia while in the second grade. School was very difficult for me. Reading, reading comprehension, spelling and writing were impossible. I was always several grades behind my classmates. Good days, great days at school were few, if any. Instead, it produced untold amounts of negative actions, feelings and thoughts within me and by me on others including being passive-aggressive, angry, anxiety, bullying, depressed, embarrassed, fearful, frustration, jealous, procrastination and shame. I was constantly late turning in my homework and projects while being under-prepared for tests and exams. Doing homework often led to feuds with my mother.

My father was likely dyslexic and he never once helped me with my homework. I went to bed on many school nights wishing that I would sleep through the next school day to avoid not having to turn something in or take a test. My performance on standardized tests revealed just how far behind I was at certain subjects by grade level, which made me not like myself when comparing my test scores to my fellow classmates. I frequently wanted to die because of school. I attended summer school in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades before repeating the 5th grade. Lining up in front of the same classroom with my new classmates on the first day of school was humiliating. From the 4th grade on, I would need a tutor to help me pass my courses all the way through high school and college.

I started drinking beer in the eighth grade. Upon experiencing its euphoric effects, I began drinking simply to get drunk. The first year or two was fun as I entered high school and went to big parties, but with time my mood changed and I simply drank to get wasted. While I came off as a happy-go-lucky drunk, I began to get jealous of others. I got into a few fistfights at parties. In 1989, after getting some counseling, I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and I would continue attending A.A. for the next 22 years. A.A. changed my life and I credit it for all the good things that have happened in my life since.

In 1995, I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in forest management. My corporate career began the following year as a salesman. My career lasted all of nine years while working for seven different companies where I was fired four-times (4x). Dyslexia affected my short-term memory, my ability to sound out and spell the names and addresses of customers while they were on the phone. I was full of fear. I made a lot of mistakes impact my confidence and my ambition. In 2002, I experienced a nervous breakdown on the weekend of my wedding. Life would never be the same for me or for our marriage. I experienced a lot of depression for several years.

In 2005, I reluctantly returned to graduate school at the University of South Alabama seeking a master’s in community counseling. The thought of returning to school and failing out was a dominant thought in my mind and it scared me. Memories of being a student and the pain school caused were fresh, as ever. In August of 2006, my wife announced that she was getting laid off from her company and that she wanted out of our marriage. I got sick from the news. I sent an email to my fellow students that my professors didn’t like. That fall, I was kicked out of the counseling program by the faculty. After appealing my case to President Moulton and getting no response from him, I swore off school for the last time. In 2007, I began writing full-time and my life would change for the better. I would finally taste success.

At 46, I have a much better understanding of dyslexia and how it has affected my life as a student, as an adult and in my career. I’m a late-bloomer. At no point in my life did anyone point out that I have a poor short-term memory while my long-term memory is pretty strong. This would explain why I couldn’t keep up and take good notes in class. I struggle to picture to words in my mind and how to spell them as soon as their expressed in the classroom by a teacher or by someone outside of it. When telling a story my mind can simply go “blank” or I would forget “the point” in telling a story. As a writer, I can think out a sentence in my head, but leave a critical word out on my computer screen or phone. The words and numbers simply go in one ear and out the other without me first catching the data. It’s been very frustrating to deal with as a student and later as a salesman. Now, that I know these shortcomings I can do a better job of editing my work before sending it out.

Facebook: The Center for Dyslexia and Talent

Website: www.tedburnett.com

 Ted Burnett: I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: www.tedburnett.com