Trustees Gone Wild

The Southern State Community College Faculty Senate passed a vote of no confidence against a member of the College’s board of trustees, James F. Ward of Washington Court House. The motion was made at the Faculty Senate’s June 6 meeting at the College’s Central Campus.

In explaining the motion, Dr. Robert Headley, professor of English and Philosophy at Southern State, noted that a vote of no confidence is an official declaration by a college or university faculty that an individual within an institution can no longer provide effective leadership.

During the May board of trustees meeting at Southern State, Mr. Ward stated publicly that high textbook costs are the fault of full-time faculty, even naming one professor and one faculty committee as the culprits behind those prices.

Also, Mr. Ward’s treatment of students who attended the meeting to voice their concerns over textbooks prices and bookstore operations at Southern State was rude, disrespectful, and completely unprofessional, according to Dr. Headley.

“Obviously, this was a difficult decision for the Faculty Senate,” said Dr. Headley. “In my opinion, controversy, endless disputes, and negative comments about the faculty have become the norm from some. The fighting just never seems to stop, and that detracts from the mission of the College. It’s certainly demoralizing, if nothing else.

“However, the Southern State faculty genuinely believes that groundless allegations and adversarial actions, especially when they’re aimed at our students, are clearly not in the best interests of this institution. Professors have absolutely no control over publisher wholesale prices, nor do we have any say about the retail prices our bookstore charges.

“Our students are this area’s citizens. Some are traditional college students, but many hold down full-time jobs and struggle to support families. They’re hard working folks and the children of hard working folks. They’re people who are trying to better themselves, and some are people who are facing losing their jobs.

“The College must be receptive to these people, not dismiss their concerns and malign their professors.”

Dr. Headley said he knows not one SSCC professor who doesn’t struggle to find the least expensive textbooks without sacrificing academic quality. Escalating textbook prices have plagued higher education throughout the United States for more than two decades, and even the U.S. Congress has become involved in the discussion.

At the request of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Headley attempted to handle this matter privately when in May he sent a letter to Mr. Ward, requesting that the board member resign immediately. According to Dr. Headley, Mr. Ward never responded to the request and did not step down from the board.

“The role of a member of the board of trustees,” Headley explained, “is to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the students this institution serves. By his inappropriate response to student concerns and his unfounded attack upon faculty, Mr. Ward has compromised his ability to provide leadership to the College.”

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