By Keenan A. Mount
The Board of Trustees unanimously accepted Chair David Heyen’s resignation. Heyen called Lewis and Clark Community College Philosophy Professor Gerald Mozar “an ugly son of bitch” at September’s meeting and submitted a letter of resignation before the October meeting.
The Board issued the following statement, “The Lewis and Clark Community College Board of Trustees takes seriously the unprofessional comment that was made during the public comment portion of its regular meeting, Tuesday, September 13, 2022. The Board wishes to apologize to anyone who was negatively impacted by this course of events, including Professor Gerald Mozur who was preparing to make remarks during public comment.”
The comment can be heard at 2:25 in the below video.
This isn’t the first time Heyen’s comments have garnered unwanted attention, but it is the first time he has faced the consequences. He came under fire for a series of Facebook posts that reflected Islamophobic, racist and anti-immigration attitudes in 2019. At the time, students protested and asked for Heyen’s resignation. He did not apologize and said he “shared some posts in order to generate conversation.”
In March, citing a lack of shared governance, the Lewis and Clark Faculty Association (LCFA) filed a complaint against the board with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), and Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA).
Heyen’s resignation leaves a vacancy on the board.
“I am concerned about who will be appointed to fill this vacancy,” Professor Mozur said during the public comments portion of the meeting. “I ask the Board to consider carefully, and find a person who has real credentials, who values education, who has experience in higher education institutions. Find someone who exhibits intellectual humility. Now is the time we should fill this vacancy with the appropriate person.”
Dennis Weedman, acting as legal counsel in this resignation incident, went on to explain the implications of board member Heyen’s resignation. The most immediate and significant among these implications being that the vice chair of the board, Julie Johnson, becomes the board chair effective immediately. Johnson expressed gratitude for the opportunity.
“It’s an honor to be trusted for this position,” she said. “We are here for one purpose: to fulfill the mission of educating people in this community. Let’s all work together using our God-given talents to make this place the best it can be.”
Weedman said the board has 60 days to fill the vacancy of vice chair and described the efforts in advertising the position via social media, local news and the Lewis and Clark website.
President Ken Trzaska shared a budget highlights report. He described the difficulties in filling open positions at Lewis and Clark as the reason for the college being under budget on salaries for the fiscal year. This was reportedly no longer an issue within the maintenance department which, as Trzaska explained, is working on previously suspended projects, further resulting in larger operations and maintenance expenditures.
The board accepted a 124:1 scale St. Louis Arch replica, reportedly worth $75,000, from Jim and Marge Weinman. Travis Jumper, welding technology coordinator, explained the location for the replica was still undecided.
“We’re going to sand it down and weld the five pieces together,” Jumper said. “We’re working to find a location for it and are thinking of a space next to the Weber Workforce Center.”
Jumper said he’d like to see it displayed parallel to the road and lit with solar lights. This approach would allow students and visitors to pose with the sculpture for photos and attract people to the campus.