Monday, July 31, 2017

RECALL OF NEARLY ALL REMAINING FACULTY

You wouldn't know it from the news coverage, but the JALC Board of Trustees approved the recall of nearly all the remaining faculty, who had been laid off, despite tenure, in March 2016.  You had to catch it in the Marion Daily Republican to read about it (or dig down in the Board Agenda to item XII.A.2.b.(2)); apparently the Southern Illinoisan has lost interest in the Board meetings.  We say "nearly all" because JALC still can't seem to take into account that these are people they are affecting.  Three instructors were called back, but Jane Beyler, a psychology professor, was not.  How would you like to be the one left out in the cold?

The good news is that David Cochran, Nikki Borrenpohl and Cheryl Barrall are being called back to teach in the departments of History, English and Education, respectively.  This is a switch for Barrall, who had been teaching developmental English until the lay offs.  Cochran's return was advocated for, at a BOT meeting earlier this year, by revered and retired History professor Helen Nall. 

Again, it's good news...  no, it is great news that these three will be teaching this fall, and that they are getting some semblance of their lives back.  It's maddening that it took this long.  There has never been a rhyme or reason, that the public could see, as to how the decisions were made as to who was to be laid off, in the first place, and who was to be recalled, and in what order.  While, excepting Beyler, this appears to bring the matter to a close, it only brings the staff's lives back to a new order.  Not all laid off staff were recalled.  Some retired rather than fight the year and a half battle.  Some lost out contractually.  Some were laid off immediately prior to their tenure being finalized.  Some, in frustration, left the teaching profession forever.  None will view tenure as a guarantee of security anymore.  Issues are still outstanding.  So are lawsuits.  If the layoffs were unjustified, for the reasons stated, will back pay be in order?  With interest?  What about retirement/pensions?  Where does one stand with seniority, service years etc.?  And what of Ms. Beyler? 

Faculty are returning to a changed college.  Their former departments no longer exist.  Their former chairs have been overthrown.  Their physical work spaces have probably been moved. 

But, this is a leap forward in the right direction.  There are still more steps to go. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

SOME GOOD, SOME BAD AND SOME UGLY

There's been a lot to think about lately, and we've taken a little break.  Hopefully, our readers are having a good summer.  Our institutions, for the most part, are not. 

Herrin City government is making strides toward transparency.  Mayor Steve Fratinni says the city council will no longer meet in executive session.  All committees and council sessions will be open to the public.  Those issues that have been discussed in closed sessions, due to privacy issues, such as personnel, will be handled at the departmental level.  This might be a good model for the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees to follow.  It would get the Board out of the hiring and firing of individual faculty, administrators and staff and would shine a light on all Board activity. 

Speaking of Logan, three laid off faculty have recently been recalled for the coming Fall term: Molly Alter, in Art; Dave Evans in English and Jennifer Watkins in Math.  That leaves a handful still hanging out to dry.  Board Chair Bill Kilquist and President Ron House said they want to bring all of the remaining people back, but, that is what they have always said.  Hopefully, the General Assembly will pass a budget, the governor will sign it, the State will cut loose with some education funding and Logan's administration will keep their promise. 

In our last post, we noted that Logan Board member Glenn Poshard had resigned his new position as President of Morthland College. His stated reason was that Morthland had financial problems he had not been informed about prior to his hire.  Morthland attempted to dispute that but recent events show they are struggling financially.  The college has eliminated its athletic program.  That's problematic, considering that 90% of their students are athletes.  Their solution, for a financially strapped institution, is interesting.  They are waiving 100% of tuition and fees for all returning students, through the students' individual graduation dates.  This is being paid for through a scholarship fund totaling $320,000, according to Executive Vice President Emily Hayes. 

Over at SIU, President Randy Dunn will once again do double duty as Acting Chancellor of the Carbondale campus.  The SIU Board of Trustees have gotten deeply involved in the search, insisting on two more candidates in the finalist pool and directly interviewing the candidates.  Given the sluggish search and the state of higher education in Illinois, only two finalists are willing to take the job:  Brad Colwell, who has been serving as interim chancellor and Carlo Montemagno, of the University of Alberta.  Colwell's contract as interim chancellor expired June 30 and the Board will not make a hiring decision between Montemagno and him until their July 13 meeting.  Until then, Dunn fills in again.  No word on what happens if they fail to pick a candidate.  This is not out of the realm of possibility.  They have come full circle.

SIU Interim Provost Susan Ford retired last Friday.  She had held the position since the removal of John Nicklow from the position, in 2014.  Ford said she didn't want people to think she was retiring "because of the university ‘being in trouble.’”  One has to think the chaos regarding the chancellor search was a factor.  She's seen this movie before.  In 2015, she was one of two chancellor candidates left standing.  Oregon State Provost Sabah Randhawa then withdrew and the Board announced that they were suspending the search because their "preferred candidate" had withdrawn.  Ford continued on as interim provost for two more years, until last week.  Provost duties are now being jointly handled by associate provosts Lizette Chevalier and David Dillala. 

As we type this, in the Illinois General Assembly, the House of Representatives has apparently voted to raise taxes and sent a budget bill to the Senate.  The Governor has announced he will veto it. 

Congress's only accomplishment so far has been to abolish protections for consumers against the schemes of bankers.  The President spends his time playing with his phone and watching cable television. 

It's ugly. 



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

SOMEBODY HAS SOME EXPLAINING TO DO

Multiple local media outlets are reporting that former SIU President and current John A. Logan College Trustee, Glenn Poshard, has resigned his position as President of Morthland College.  The Southern Illinoisan reports there are two different versions of his reason for resignation.  Poshard released a statement that read,
“I believe strongly in the vision and the mission of Morthland College and the opportunity it provides in offering students a faith-based, Christian education, however there are serious issues — both personnel and financial — of which I was not notified when I began as president, and which, I concluded, could only be resolved by an authority other than myself.”
A spokeman for Morthand College said Poshard gave them another reason.

“He resigned for health reasons, that is what he told us,”  
These statements lead one to two very different conclusions.  Poshard's statement implies that there are unspecified problems at Morthland.  Perhaps financial instability or malfeasance.  

The quote differs from the Southern's site to that of WSILThe Southern reports, "... issues — both personnel and financial ".  WSIL reports the quote as,

I believe strongly in the vision and mission of Morthland College and the opportunity it provides in offering students a faith-based Christian education. However, there are serious issues, both personal and financial, of which I was not notified when I began as president, and which, I concluded, could only be resolved by an authority other than myself. 
 Note that The Southern uses the word, "personnel" and that WSIL reports the wording as "personal".  If WSIL is correct, that invites speculation as to who has personal issues.  What type are they?  Are they related to the financial issues?  The Southern's quote sounds more like there was merely a human resource problem.

On the other hand, Morthland's PR person says the resignation is on Poshard; that he has health reasons.  This is disturbing because someone is not telling the truth, or at least not the whole truth.