Chronology of Events, Correspondence and Minutes

By Eagle Staff

1995

Kathy Hoffman vacates PR postion. We understand that Kathy was on leave for a time and eventually resigned. We don't know why.

* * *

1995-1966

B. G. Hefflefinger assumes PR postion as temporary replacement.

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Spring, 1996

Rumors circulate that Lael Morrison will be installed as the new PR person.

*

Ehmann convenes committees to revise job description for PR position and picks members of the Selection Committee.

*

Kathy Shearn, College Graphic Artist, requests to serve on Selection Committee Selection. Ehmann declines.

*

Selection Committee interviews candidates and makes final sellection of Lael Morrison.

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September 18, l996

Letter from Susan Bell to the Board of Trustees.

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October 2, 1996

Board of Trustees Meeting.

Linda Myers and Leslie Saxon West present letters at that meeting (see Linda Meyers letter requesting postponement of Lael Morrison's appointment).

Below is Leslie's letter to the Board which was delivered to the EAGLE:

Dear Trustees:

In the past few weeks, many faculty and staff have begun to question the hiring process of the Public Relations/Foundation Officer. Although I believe all college employees feel concern and compassion for the individual who has been placed in this unfortunate position, we feel that this controversial issue needs to be addressed and examined. We hope that the Board of Trustees will postpone the final hiring decision for at least one month, until all of the following questions are thoroughly answered in an acceptable manner.

Please be assured of the fact that we are concerned about the prospective hiree. We feel that she is a loved and valued Mendocino College employee who does not deserve to be in the middle of this highly controversial and serious issue.

We ask that the following questions be answered:

1. Why were people who had first hand knowledge and experience of this job, some of whom requested to be on the hiring committee, excluded from the entire process?

2. We have been told by in-house staff as well as community professionals that the prospective hiree lacks basic knowledge about graphics terminology, graphic layout, printing, photography, and journalistic form and style. Since the college President has stated that the hiring committee was balanced and knowledgeable about such marketing skills, why were the candidates not evaluated on their knowledge of such basic PR practices?

3. Why were people who met all of the stated requirements for the job, with years of actual experience in the necessary areas and college degrees in related fields, overlooked and in some cases not even interviewed?

4. If the "vision/action plan" submitted by the prospective hiree was the "deciding factor", why were the other candidates not asked ahead of time to provide such a plan? Is it in fact fair to ask a person who is not a part of the college and/or from out of the area to have a "vision" for an institution and district they know nothing about? Wouldn't that be taking the "equal" out of "equal opportunity"?

5. Why was the obvious (elementary) mistake, which appears in the newsletter submitted by the prospective hiree, not caught and questioned by the hiring committee, and if it was, how could a hiring committee recommend hiring someone who does not possess these basic skills?

6. Why were the qualifications specified in the 1986 job description (minimum of 2 years experience in PR and marketing and BA in marketing, PR or Communications or related field) overlooked in the 1996 job description? Why was there no degree or direct experience required?

7. If faculty input regarding the job description was to be considered, why was the job description for this recent position revised on August 7, 1996, several weeks before faculty returned from summer vacation?

8. Who is responsible for revising the job description? Did this person have the background and knowledge necessary to create a job description of this nature?

9. Why is the base pay for this position ($37,000/year) with no degree requirement, $8,000/year more than full-time faculty base pay with a Masters Degree?

10. Another uncomfortable aspect of this situation relates to the speculation that the new position was created specifically for a single candidate. This is disturbing to many of us. Some of us are aware that discussions took place as early as last spring suggesting that a departmental reorganization might result in the successful candidate being named as the PR director. Changes to the former PR job description were made during the summer and the word around campus and in the community at that time was that the position was being tailored for the person that the district plans to hire tonight. Can anyone explain how these earlier discussions might have clouded the issue, and whether the final format for the job description was developed separately from any earlier ideas about who would be the "right" person for the job?

Leslie Saxon West

*

After hearing the testimony, including the above letter from Ms. West, the Board of Trustees denies the request to postpone the PR appointment. Lael Morrison is duly appointed to the position.

* * *

Friday, October 4

Academic Senate meets

Minutes:

Present: Alto, Fowler, Keegan, Myers, Proto-Robinson, Bollens, Sligh

Absent: Blundell, Wallen.

In the absence of President Sue Blundell, the meeting was chaired by vice president, Lynda Myers.

Information and Reports:

Goals and Objectives On hold for next meeting to allow time for discussion.

New Business: Discussion of Future Action: The Senate agreed to begin a process of resolutions and faculty forums to address hiring issues. The resolutions will be presented in a series beginning with the first reading of "Hiring Issues #1: Selection Committee Composition," which will be on the agenda October 11th.

Research: The Senate plans to research current practices before recommending new ones. Karen Chaty will be invited to the October 25th meeting to discuss how and why job descriptions are changed, including the administrative regulations and legal mandates. Meanwhile, Lynda will talk to Don (Vasconcellos) about the process for changing administrative regulations.

Old Business:Second Reading and Vote on Resolution F96.02 - Second reading of a resolution dealing with institutional hiring passed. The resolution will now go to Mutual Agreement between the Academic Senate president and the Board Designee, Carl Ehmann. The results of the Mutual Agreement will be shared with the Senate at a future meeting.

* * *

October 16, 1996

To: All Staff

From: Carl Ehmann

Subject: Concerns

It has become obvious in the last two weeks or so that there are concerns about several issues.

I would like for us to remember that whenever we've had issues in the past that have bothered us, we resolved them because we took the time to meet face-to-face and give each other the benefit of our thoughts. I hope we can continue this practice.

I'm pretty easy to find in room 1070 if you're interested.

* * *

October 18,1996

From: Lynda Myers

Enclosed is a statement from the Academic Senate (10/18/96) regarding the recent anonymous documents which have been circulating around campus.

* * *

October 18, 1996

Mendocino College

Academic Senate

(calling attention to statement)

...made by President Carl Ehmann in his memo of October 16, 1996. Students or staff who are concerned, dissatisfied, or discouraged with campus issues should initiate open dialogue with the administration, either directly, or through their constituent groups. The Senate is moving towards an open forum, as called for in Senate Resolution F96.02, to discuss specific academic and organizational issues reflected by recent events. Please contact your senate representative for topics you would like to see openly explored.

* * *

October 18,1996

Academic Senate

Resolution F96.03

Hiring Issues #1: Selection Committee Composition

First Reading was on

10/11/96

Second Reading and vote 10/18/96

Whereas the faculty of Mendocino College, through their Academic Senate, has a responsibility to serve on Selection Committees when the college is hiring new employees,

And whereas faculty need appropriate representation, especially when faculty programs are directly affected by the hiring,

And whereas the Senate as a whole is best suited to solicit and approve such faculty participation,

Therefore, be it resolved that all faculty representatives to Selection Committees be confirmed by a formal motion and vote of the Academic Senate recorded in the Senate minutes.

* * *

October 21, 1996

To: All faculty, administrators, staff and students of Mendocino College

From: EAGLE staff

Subject:EAGLE Extra

Dear faculty, members of the administration, staff and students,

The EAGLE is planning to publish an Extra newspaper devoted exclusively to the current discussions about college process. The discussion has been going on intensely for about two weeks. Several documents are being circulated privately and have come into the hands of the EAGLE. In order to facilitate this very important discussion, the EAGLE staff has decided to publish the key documents including:

1) Susan Bell's letter to the Board of Trustees dated 9/18/96,

2) A response by Dr. Ehmann,

3) Portions of recent "underground" publications (T·A·B and PROCESS),

4) Any other letters or meeting minutes provided to us by the deadline.

In order to open the discussion more widely, the deadline for submissions has been extended.

The new deadline is Wednesday at 5:30 pm at the EAGLE office. Submissions should be hard copy (on paper) and, if possible, also in diskette form.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Zack Darling

Editor-in-Chief

* * *

Date: 10/21/96 3:47 PM

From: Ruth Lincoln

Dear Zack Darling

and EAGLE Staff,

I am very concerned about a fax I just received regarding your decision to publish internal college documents. Do you have Susan Bell's permission to publish her letter? Isn't her letter confidential? Have you thought about the potential harm, concomitant breach of confidentiality and backlash against her such action may trigger? Have you discussed your "concerns" with Dr. Ehmann? I believe his "Concerns" memo of October 16th, was addressed to All Staff. Before you publish internal memos/letters you may consider accepting his invitation to find him in room 1070.

Ruth

*

From King Collins

Dear Ruth,

The EAGLE has a responsibility to the entire college community, and we interpret that responsibility to mean, in part, that we should be as transparent as possible about what we know and what we do.

A few weeks ago we heard of the letter from Susan Bell to the Board of Trustees, and that it was being read by some "in-the-know" faculty and staff. After a copy appeared in the EAGLE mailbox, the staff of the EAGLE discussed the matter of confidentiality and decided to publish the letter. Among the considerations was the fact that the letter was already in circulation and that its content was very significant to everyone in the college. Although it probably would not have changed our mind, the letter was not marked confidential, and Susan Bell, herself, told us that it was not confidential, as far as she was concerned.

One of the recurrent complaints against the process here is that matters of concern to everyone are usually resolved in a "confidential" manner, meaning that the actual positions, proposals and counter proposals are not discussed openly.

Does this confidential approach meet the objectives of the college and the community it serves? If it did, then perhaps the EAGLE would agree that we should continue with business as usual and await the verdict from above. We would not need to know exactly what Susan Bell, the most senior of our administrators, is criticizing in the way things are done at the highest levels of the college.

Under the circumstances, would you rather keep the vast majority of the college in the dark while an "enlightened" few debate our future?

King Collins

Faculty Advisor of the EAGLE

* * *

October 21, 1996

From: Mike Adams

To: Eagle

The following is a comment to be printed in the "EAGLE Extra"

Whoever noted my name in the T·A·B (parody on T·B·A), thanks for acknowledging my loyalty to Carl and the institution. If I felt otherwise I would move on. While I don't always agree with all decisions made on campus and I do openly express my opinion about them, I recognize the need to support decisions made by those whose job it is to make them. I've always felt that feedback can be valuable to an institution when done with respect and professionalism. The goal should be to create an opportunity for improvement.

Also, raising issues within the context of a dialogue (both parties are open about their ideas and exactly who is raising them) allows an exchange that can help to understand the sometimes complex issues that surround either side of an issue.

When an individual raises issues from the shadows, it robs all those involved of the opportunity to grow out of that back and forth exchange that should follow. Taking blind shots at the institution only serves to attempt to tear down rather than improve.

The only thing it truly does is make a statement about the individual(s) who have chosen this method of dissent.

I believe that humor is a great healer and a wonderful medium to unify, but when the result hurts someone else then there is no humor.

Mike Adams

* * *

October 21,1996,

From Betty Davis:

Zack,

Please include attached in the special EAGLE edition with the other documents that have been collected. This was read at the Board meeting (10/2/96)

Thanks,

Betty

*

On behalf of the Classified Staff, I would like to read a statement.

The Classified Staff of Mendocino College would like to publicly congratulate Lael Morrison on her recent promotion to Public Relations/Foundation Officer.

The Committee decision must be respected and we support Lael as she takes on the challenges of her new role.

We all need to come together now, to make a positive statement, not just for ourselves but, also for our students and the community that we serve.

* * *

October 21, 1996

From: Mike Adams

To: Eagle

I have a question regarding the Eagle Extra:

If your going to publish all the dialogue, are you going to include the name(s) of the author(s) of the T·A·B and PROCESS?

It seems to me that any item that receives the benefit of publication should also have the requirement of responsibility for the comments within. If this is not done, then the Eagle becomes the publisher and the author of those pieces and ultimately takes responsibility for what's in them.

I would suggest that you consider the liability of such action.

Many publications require that anything that is published is accompanied by the name of the author of the comment.

To truly have a dialogue, all parties need to be open in their comments so that the core of the issues can be discussed intelligently and an expanded understanding can result.

Mike Adams

* * *

From: King Collins

To: Mike Adams

Dear Mike,

I would love it if everyone in the pay of the college had the courage to speak their minds openly without any fear of retribution. That does not seem to be the case. I would also note whoever is publishing these things is not without courage, because, sooner or later, we will find out who is doing it. To some (he, she, or...) they will be heroes; to others they will be scoundrels.

One thing for sure, the author(s) of the T·A·B are very knowledgeable about the goings on among the faculty and administration of our college. I think you will agree that this publication is from our midst. It is us.

King Collins

Faculty Advisor

to the EAGLE

* * *

October 21, 1996

From: Carl Ehmann

To: Eagle

Attn: Zack Darling

Zack:

Following are my comments re: the various issues you plan on addressing in the special Eagle issue:

Susan Bell's letter: Susan's letter to the Trustees and me was marked "Confidential". I will honor the request to keep it such.

Underground Publications: Although portions of these publications show some enthusiasm and humor, in a number of areas they cross the line and show poor taste; i.e. they have hurt several people's feelings.

It's too bad this energy couldn't have been spent constructively debating issues that are of concern to staff/students. It takes more courage to face each other than it does to ridicule others anonymously.

Thanks,

Carl Ehman

* * *

October 21, 1996

From: Lucia Giovannetti

To: Eagle Special Edition

I hope that the Eagle intends to act responsibly when publishing its special edition regarding the recent hot topic at Mendocino College. It is my hope that you will obtain express written permission to publish anything written by anyone before putting it into print. To publish without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Anything that an individual writes is subject to copyright law and may not be reproduced and distributed without that individuals permission; this pertains even to e-mail correspondence.

If the Eagle does choose to publish portions of the T·A·B and the Process, I hope that the items which are hurtful to specific individuals at Mendocino College will not be included. I appreciate that in addition to printing Susan Bell's letter to the board you are also printing President Ehmann's response.

Please do not turn this issue into yellow journalism. What you publish can either serve to help invite discussion aimed at resolving the concerns, or it can invite discussion aimed at polarizing Mendocino College. Please verify your facts before printing anything. Lots of the discussion on campus is based on emotions and rumors and cannot be relied upon as being the gospel truth.

Please print the districts policy on the grievance process and the policy on the hiring procedure.

Please be fair to both sides.

Lucia Giovannetti

Leslie Humphrey

* * *

October 21,1996

From: Terri Robertson

To: Eagle

Subject: Newspaper

Hi, King.

Would it be possible to talk to you for a few minutes (about the Eagle Extra)?

Thanks,

Terri Robertson

(Follow-up phone conversation) Terri and I (King) discussed the forthcoming extra issue of the EAGLE.

Terri said she did not think it appropriate to print the T·A·B and Process because some individuals were trashed in those publications. She noted that she and other Senate members had been called "slobs" and that Tom McMillan, who was just recovering from cancer surgery had been lampooned.

King said that he appreciated the concern that Terry and other faculty are expressing, but that in the interest of the larger concern of opening up the discussion, it would be irresponsible for the EAGLE to suppress the underground documents. Publishing unsigned documents is not forbidden nor illegal. And we do not feel that there is any reason to worry about libel (as suggested in a note from Mike Adams). The documents stand for themselves. Some feel that these are cowardly offerings, others that they are 'radical poetry' saying it like it is.

King suggested that the lampooning of individuals should be taken as just that, making fun of some people's characteristic roles in the college process. The response of many faculty and staff, especially part time faculty, has been one of appreciation that someone dared to express themselves so freely, at a time when most people, with the notable exception of Susan Bell, are keeping a very low profile. Could it be that these "cowardly" documents are speaking what is on the minds of many members of the college community? Or are these documents simply anti-social ravings?

The college commuity as a whole will decide when we have all had an opportunity to read them.

King Collins
Faculty Advisor of the EAGLE

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Copyright Mendocino College Eagle 1996
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