A second Connecticut community college president has come forward to confirm that the 12 presidents “have been offered a buyout,” and it was “made clear we’re on the chopping block if we don’t accept.”
Barbara Douglass, the president of Northwestern Community College in Winsted, said Friday that her understanding of what the presidents were told by the higher education administration coincides with the account given by Gena Glickman, president of Manchester Community College.
“President Glickman’s account of the meeting was accurate,” said Douglass. “The other presidents are not coming forward because of fear and intimidation. I am coming forward because I feel one of my colleagues is being held out to dry.”
Although no one from the higher education system was available during the day Friday, a statement from “Connecticut State Colleges and Universities” was released Friday night that called their recent actions “consistent with practice in both of the former university and community college systems.” (See below for statement.)
Douglass said the controversy surrounding the presidents’ tenure is not related to the implementation of a new law governing remedial education at the college level, as some administrators have claimed.
Earlier this week, Michael Meotti, the state college system’s executive vice president, told the Board of Regents for Higher Education that Glickman’s account was not accurate.
In an email to her faculty Tuesday, Glickman said the 12 college presidents had been given until Oct. 31 to decide whether to take a buyout or put their positions at risk.
Meotti described the proposal to the presidents as a way to hasten their dismissal if they thought “they could not carry out the directions of the [remedial education] law and the board.” In his email Tuesday to the regents, Meotti said the proposal was put forward because several presidents are resisting implementation of the new state law limiting when students can be forced to take noncredit remedial courses. It is known as SB-40.
But Douglass said at no time during the meeting did Steven Weinberger, the director of human resources for the regents, bring up the remedial education law.
“I have never said or indicated I would not carry out the law,” said Douglass, who has run her community college for nine years. “I know we all have concerns. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to follow the law,” she said.
“During the meeting,” she said, “all that was mentioned was the need for change in leadership, nothing to do with SB-40… It was not discussed as related to it.”
Douglass said her legal counsel has advised her not to share the details of the “buyout offered.”
Meotti, Robert Kennedy, the Board of Regents president, and Lewis Robinson Jr., the board chairman, were not immediately available Friday afternoon to comment.
However, Friday night, a statement from the “Connecticut State Colleges and Universities” was released: “This approach is consistent with practice in both of the former university and community college systems. The discussions start with central office leadership and the presidents.”
“Balancing these sometimes conflicting goals is what led to recent conversations with our community college presidents. This conversation started with a meeting of community college presidents where an explanation was provided of how these goals would be addressed in the regular presidential evaluation process that should precede a Board of Regents decision on reappointment,” the statement reads. “Policies give the presidents — who have served more than three years — the right to 12 months continued employment after notice of non-reappointment. Payment of compensation for the notice period can be accelerated. The 12 community college presidents have not been offered a “buy out” and no one was asked to resign.
“System leadership will complete discussions with any interested presidents by the end of the month. Sometime after that, the presidential evaluation process will start for those who have not entered into a mutually agreed upon separation agreement.”