PCC Senate pres: Board should resign over missed opportunities
The text of a letter sent Thursday to members of Pima Community College Faculty Senate by its president, Joe LaBuda, in advance of a Friday vote on a resolution calling for the resignation of four out of five Governing Board members:
How did we get to this point? As you are all aware the College has been stumbling through a series of public controversies over the past year and a half. We are dealing with the fallout of what occurred during the Dr. Flores administration and the board's response or rather, lack of response, to those controversies. What had been internal and private is now front page news and very public.
During this period of time, the admission policy was probably the first issue that aroused the ire of many people in the community. Whatever the good intent of the policy, there was much confusion over it. The College's responses to public criticism of the policy change have proven to be less than successful in quelling concerns.
Since then, questions concerning ethically dubious contracts with "consultants" have arisen. And, there have been concerns over College hirings and hiring processes. And, attorney contracts.
We have seen, for PCC, an unprecedented number of administrative separations from the College and an unprecedented shuffling of administrative positions. Have you been able to keep track of the administrative changes? Me neither.
What were the members of the board thinking when this was going on? Did they see no "red flags"?
While we currently have an outstanding core of administrators, and Provost Migler has been a great addition, we have also have had administrators who ran amok emulating Dr. Flores' bullying management style. Board reaction?
After Dr. Flores left, the board first decided to skip a national search for a chancellor and to have Dr. Miles assume that position. At the board meeting when this action was to be confirmed, they suddenly yielded to public pressure and withdrew their offer to Dr. Miles.
At that particular board meeting, the board members seemed stunned that the community would "push back" and express their discontent over the board's decision to fill such an important position without community input. That night the board managed to embarrass themselves, embarrass Dr. Miles, embarrass the College community and alienate the public. Quite a feat. This is leadership?
Many issues were brought to the board's attention. If you had been a board member during the Dr. Flores administration and you had these issues brought to you and heard the rumblings of discontent and concern from employees and those who had left the college, what would you have done?
There were rumors of and later confirmation of sexual harassment of employees by the former chancellor.
When eight women eventually came forward and identified the former chancellor's outrageous misconduct, if you were a board member, would you dismiss their claims as "not credible"? All of them? Does the statute of limitations allow board members to duck ethical responsibilities?
I can go on. For those of you who were with the College during the Dr. Flores administration I don't need to tell you about our "culture of fear".
Over the past year and a half, the board has had numerous opportunities to regroup, acknowledge our problems, accept responsibility and help the College repair itself and move forward. Have you seen this occur?
Now we are facing probation. This never had to happen.
I don't believe these board members are bad people. They also had to exist in that toxic environment. But, they were the people in charge and ultimately they need to bear the responsibility for what occurred. Too much was allowed to happen. And, too little was done to correct what needed to be corrected.
As to the resolution:
The Senate will not be the only employee group to make its feelings known concerning the board. Groups outside of the College as well as many community individuals will continue their calls for their resignations. But, the Faculty Senate holds a unique position. We are the voice of all the faculty - full time and adjunct faculty. We also have a unique responsibility. To many of the people of Pima County we are the public face of the College. We have been patient. We have been anxious to see our problems be resolved without further turmoil. But, we can no longer wait to make our views know.
This resolution is to the point. Its language is measured. It is direct without being inflammatory.
There have been some questions by Senators and other faculty about the last paragraph of the resolution. That is the portion that urges the board to suspend the chancellor search until a new board is in place.
There are a few issues to consider.
If we ask the four Dr. Flores era board members to resign because of their actions and inaction, why would we want them to continue with the important job of hiring our next chancellor?
We must also consider that we are almost into April. We are deep into the academic year. Isn't it likely that many of the best candidates who might have been a good fit for Pima are no longer available? Isn't it possible that some good candidates who would normally be interested in Pima will stay on the sidelines until our future becomes clearer?
I don't pretend to know the opinions of all the members of the search committee concerning this issue. But, I do personally know of a number of members of that committee who believe the search should be suspended. And, that includes "Pima" folk and community members.
Senators, I am sorry we have come to this point. But, I won't be sorry to adopt the resolution. Will our adoption of the resolution affect the HLC decision? I have no way of knowing. But, the HLC report is quite clear in what it sees as massive employee disenchantment with the status quo. Certainly if we adopt this resolution the Senate's action will not come as a shock to HLC.
But more importantly, we need to make it clear to the College community and to the citizens of Pima County that we do not accept what has happened over the past decade and we are committed to getting our College back on the path of honesty, integrity and credibility.
Thank you, Senators.
The West Campus library director for Pima Community College, Joe LaBuda is president of the Faculty Senate.