By Keenan A. Mount
Lewis and Clark Faculty Association (LCFA) President Debbie Witsken cited “overreaching authority, lack of transparency in deliberations, and a disregard for diversity and equity in decision making” behind the decision to file a formal complaint when addressing the Board of Trustees at its March meeting.
“The decision to file an official complaint against the Board of Trustees only came after more informal complaints and concerns were left on deaf ears,” Witsken said. “For over a year now, faculty have been sharing concerns through surveys, public comment, social media, and local news outlets, to no avail.”
Witsken did express the faculty’s support for the administration despite the complaints.
“We want to make it very clear that as faculty, we fully support our administration,” she said.
Witksen called for a revision of rules so that there may be a policy for recall and censure, as well as a procedure for recall and resignation for board members based on a majority vote from the board.
“Such a policy would communicate to the community and to the stakeholders at the college that the board is serious in its mission to invest at Lewis and Clark and to seek more cooperative solutions that enhance student learning and faculty teaching,” she said.
LCFA obtained and reviewed documents via a Freedom of Information Act request before filing a complaint with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), and Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA).
LCFA Executive Committee Vice President Peter Hussey said he had “great concern about transparency, broad overreach and ethical behavior.”
The Higher Learning Commission is set to review the situation and form a response.
“The Board has received a copy of the complaint, and its members have had the opportunity to review and study it,” said Vice Chairperson Julie Johnson. “We are taking the complaints seriously and plan to respond by HLC’s deadline.”
The board has 30 days to respond.