Green River faculty, students question continued lack of shared governance

When Eileen Ely resigned as Green River College president in June after months of growing tension on campus, faculty and students said they were ready to hit the reset button and improve morale.

When Eileen Ely resigned as Green River College president in June after months of growing tension on campus, faculty and students said they were ready to hit the reset button and improve morale.

But a month later, they say the lack of shared governance remains.

At the July 21 Board of Trustees meeting, students and faculty cited two examples – the elimination of four programs and the termination of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director.

Administrators eliminated German, French, the Montessori track of early childhood education and study skills on July 6, despite calls from faculty not to move forward with the cuts when Ely resigned.

The announcement of the proposed cuts of the 11 programs earlier this year fueled rallies, walkouts and a three-day faculty strike at the end of May, which called for Ely’s removal.

“The failure to provide rationale for program closures speaks to the continued lack of transparency and shared governance that we experienced with President Ely,” Mark Thomason, a history instructor at Green River, told the board. “The Ely model of shared governance was to make decisions at the top and share them with faculty and staff at the bottom. This style is alive and well.”

Students, faculty upset with dismissal

The college on June 28 terminated Michael Tuncap, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and a Pacific Islander.

Green River spokeswoman Allison Friedly said the college “released (Tuncap) for convenience, without cause.” She declined to comment further on the termination because it is a personnel matter.

Administrators are reviewing the job description before posting to fill Tuncap’s position, Friedly said.

Faculty presented the Board of Trustees on July 21 with a petition signed by 135 faculty, staff, students and community members asking for the decision to fire Tuncap to be reviewed and for the administrators and the board to examine and improve diversity training and procedures.

“We need to ensure that we have equity in funding,” Green River student Victoria Pacho told the board. “We are a marginalized body of students, and most of that funding is going to things that are not support student services. There is a problem and we need to address it.”

Following more than 30 minutes of public comment, Board of Trustees Chair Claudia Kauffman said the board is listening to the concerns.

“We are taking into consideration the number of issues, the number of complaints, taking into consideration the demands that have been put out on the table and what can we do in terms of responding to that and acknowledging that,” Kauffman said.

Search for interim president continues

Faculty members questioned why the decisions to cut the programs and dismiss Tuncap were made before the appointment of an interim president.

Shirley Bean, vice president of business affairs, and Marshal Sampson, vice president of human resources and legal affairs, have been sharing the duties of acting president since Ely resigned June 16.

The board met in executive session to discuss the interim president search before the July 21 meeting, but didn’t take any action.“We are working on that. We are continuing the process,” Kauffman said.

A special board meeting was scheduled for Thursday afternoon to discuss the possible appointment of an interim president.

 

 


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