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Hocking College Education Assn: President: Complaints ‘Ignored’ By Administration

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Days after a “no confidence” vote was announced by the Hocking College Board of Trustees, the head of the union representing faculty and professional staff said the environment at the college has deteriorated so much that  leaving the college has become an option.

“I suspect we’re going to have a lot of retirements…because of the environment (at the college),” Jerry Hart, president of the Hocking College Education Association, told WOUB on Thursday.

The vote resulted in 92 of 99 voters from the professional staff expressing a lack of confidence in Hocking President Dr. Betty Young and Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs Dr. Myriah Davis. In comments included with the vote, the staff, which included union and non-union members, cited a lack of transparency, overcrowded classes and the college’s “inability to find qualified adjuncts to replace faculty who were dismissed by Dr. Young or who chose to resign due to the toxic environment” as some reasons why they did not trust the leadership.

The announcement of a “no confidence” vote came at the trustees meeting on Wednesday, but Hart said he did what he could to avoid bringing the issues of the faculty and staff into the public eye.

“I held the letter (notifying the board of the vote) for days hoping someone would discuss it, but no one did,” Hart said.

In an email dated Feb. 7 in which he wrote to Board Chairman Tom Johnson about the no vote, Hart said he believed “adverse publicity is of no benefit to any of us.”

WOUB attempted to confirm this with Young, but has yet to receive a response regarding any of the association’s claims.

The union president, who took over after former president of the professional bargaining unit Mark Yanko resigned, said he resisted “ever increasing pressure” to conduct the vote. He hoped that his colleagues would “trust in discussion and negotiation, to let reason prevail,” he said in the email to Johnson.

“But, over the months, administrative indifference to faculty and professional staff concerns…resulted in a nearly unanimous call for a resolution of no confidence,” Hart wrote.

While he called the vote a “drastic and severe option,” Hart said he only consented to the resolution of no confidence after efforts to bring the complaints to Young’s attention through a one-on-one meeting.

“Issue by issue, Dr. Young minimalized or marginalized our concerns,” Hart said in the email to Johnson, adding that he brought fading morale of faculty and staff to her attention as well. “I expected that my statement would elicit compassion; I expected some response that would indicate concern for her employees.”

After being notified about the vote of no confidence, Hart said Young told him to “go ahead, the board will probably give me a raise,” according to the email.

At the board meeting, Johnson said the vote would be taken seriously, and tasked both Young and Davis with presenting solutions at the next board meeting.

“We’d also like to say that the board has full confidence in the job that Dr. Young and Dr. Davis are doing,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “There’s difficult times at the college, we’re navigating changes in the state funding formula, enrollment declines and we need to keep our eyes on… the metrics that are going to result in Hocking College being successful.”

Hart said it’s unknown whether members of the education association or non-union members of faculty and professional staff involved in the vote would be attending the next meeting.

“We’re just waiting to see what (the board) will say,” Hart said.