Hocking College Union Questions Management Decisions Of Board Of Trustees And Administration

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The Hocking College Education Association (HCEA) responded Thursday to management decisions being made by the current administration and Board of Trustees. 

A news release provided to the Messenger by HCEA area representative Tracey Conrad on behalf of union president Mark Yanko explained the concerns of the union following a meeting of union members, faculty and staff regarding the budget crisis.


"We felt we needed to get our side out there," Yanko said of sending the news release on Thursday. Yanko added that to this point the information had only been what had been provided by the college and this was the opportunity for the public to hear from one of the other parties involved. 

"Overarching areas of concern are with transparency and general management practices. Professional bargaining unit members have been essentially shut out of discussions of how to respond to the college’s current situation in ways that are least damaging to student and institutional success," read the release.

As previously reported, the unions were not brought in to the discussion regarding the budget revisions prior to the announcement of the cuts at the November Board of Trustees meeting.  

According to the release, the HCEA was involved in working with the College on the last round of cuts. 

"In spite of being given absolutely no information (this time around) about how the administration planned to achieve budget goals, the Hocking College Education Association voted on and offered a Memorandum of Understanding that offered a reduction in pay for members, provided the administration also reduced pay by the same amount. That proposal was rejected (for this round of cuts), and the rejection was closely followed by news of position cuts and restructuring plans that members feel threaten the health of the institution," the release stated. 

The union also questioned the financial situation of the college which was described as being in a healthy position at the end of fiscal year 2013, with $7.2 million in unrestricted funds. The 2014 audit is not currently available, but the union submitted a public record request on Nov. 14 (the budget cuts were announced on Nov. 10) asking for the current budget information. That information as requested from Director of Marketing and Public Relations Laura Alloway has not been completed by the college according to Yanko.

"In its haste and refusal to share information with the professional bargaining unit leadership or members, the college has committed several contract violations which are now being challenged, a process which could have been avoided and which prolongs the current turmoil at the college," stated the release.

The release acknowledged that the layoffs and position cuts could ultimately increase as the newly-created “chair” positions are filled, "a move which will add another layer to an already bloated administration at Hocking College and will further reduce the voice of faculty and professional staff at the college."

Each one of the new chair positions includes a nine-hour teaching load requirement which the release states could reduce the faculty by an additional five to seven positions. 

"The creation of these positions is another violation of the agreed upon contract between the PBU members and the Board of Trustees."

The release references the letter sent by interim president Betty Young with regard to the chair positions. The Nov. 13 letter distributed by email stated, “Please be aware that if no suitable internal candidate is found for the department chair position in an area, we will post the position externally and one faculty member within that same area will be eliminated in order to hire an external candidate who is qualified as a department chair.” 

"This places undue pressure on faculty to step up and apply for positions they do not want or feel qualified for in order to keep members from losing jobs," stated the release.

Also of concern are possible losses in accreditation of some programs due to the cuts being imposed by the college. 

"Substantial cuts and changes implemented in the nursing program are in conflict with directives given to the School of Nursing by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, thus jeopardizing the accreditation and viability of this program that is so important to the continued success of the college. Other programs that must meet requirements of outside accrediting agencies are also vulnerable to a loss of accreditation if specific requirements are not met due to lack of support from the administration and the board of trustees," read the release.

"These, and numerous other issues, including a mandatory furlough, forcing members to either take earned vacation time (professional staff) or cuts in contractually obligated pay have lead members to express a larger fear that the college will continue a decline in enrollment, student success, and student satisfaction. The larger result of such a decline could be a great loss to the economic health of southeastern Ohio and the residents served by this public institution," the release concludes.

Emails for comment sent to Alloway and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Andrew Stone were not returned by press time.