Erickson Says He Was Forced Out As College President< < Back to
The former president of Hocking College says he did not resign voluntarily but was instead forced to do so because he was protecting an employee.
Ron Erickson stepped down as president on Oct. 2 during an emergency meeting of the Hocking College Board of Trustees. He was then reassigned to the position of special assistant to the chairperson for special projects.
Saturday, Erickson sent a letter to The Messenger explaining his side of the situation. The letter can be read on Page A6 of today’s edition and also online at www.athensohiotoday.com.
Erickson claims that he informed the board he did not want to resign but was “forced to choose resignation as part of a separation agreement initiated by the board.”
Hocking College has experienced significant drops in enrollment and is facing a possible $4.7 million shortfall in its budget, but Erickson said this was not a reason that the board allegedly wanted him gone.
“The actual reason I was removed is this: I attempted to eliminate a hostile work environment for a black employee of Hocking College through the termination of the employee who was responsible for it,” Erickson claims.
Erickson specifically named Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs and Provost Dr. Carl Bridges as the employee he was trying to protect, but did not name the person whose employment was terminated.
The Messenger has reported that the college’s chief financial officer, Gina Fetty, was removed from her position last month by Erickson. In a Sept. 23 memo to the trustees, Erickson explained his reasons for doing so and stated that he was told doing so could lead to the non-renewal of his contract.
In the memo, Erickson alleged that Fetty had been “covertly reporting to board members misleading accusations about the professional performance and integrity of both the provost and me …”
In Erickson’s letter to The Messenger, he acknowledged The Messenger’s reporting, writing, “The media has already revealed some of the details surrounding a sustained and deliberate attack on the performance and character of Dr. Bridges by another college administrator. Through covert conversations with a single trustee, this employee inappropriately placed blame for the college’s enrollment decline and financial stress entirely on Dr. Bridges.”
The Messenger had reported that Erickson made those claims in the Sept. 23 memo.
The letter goes on to allege the trustees did not follow up on the accusations or investigate in any manner.
Upon Erickson’s resignation, Fetty was given her job back — at least on a temporary basis — by Interim President Myriah Davis.
Bridges, meanwhile, tendered his resignation on Friday, according to Erickson.
“Dr. Bridges resigned from his position due to the hostile work environment that was immediately rebuilt after my own resignation,” Erickson wrote. “Rather than being appointed the interim President, as is customary in such transitions, Dr. Bridges was placed in the intolerable position of working with the individual who had attempted to assassinate his professional and personal integrity, and another administrative leader who has openly expressed contempt for his leadership to other employees.”
Erickson continues by alleging “prejudicial hatred” and “blind personal ambitions” as controlling factors in the leadership at the school.
Erickson’s amended contract calls for him to serve in his role as special adviser through April of 2015.