Sen. Bowling questions report that forced resignation of community college president

State Sen. Janice Bowling is questioning a state Board of Regents report that led to the resignation of Motlow State Community College President President Anthony “Tony” Kinkel amid allegations of “autocratic” leadership, reports Sam Stockard. She’s asking the state comptroller to conduct an audit.

Bowling, a Tullahoma Republican, said she felt a lengthy probe of Kinkel’s presidency was inappropriate considering he’d been on the job for only a couple of years. In addition, she pointed out the report by the Board of Regents, which oversees Tennessee’s community colleges, did not take Motlow State’s performance under Kinkel into account before he was forced to resign in mid-June.

…Motlow, the fastest-growing community college in Tennessee led by its Smyrna campus, is tied for first in student retention with Roane State and ranks first in the system in several other categories for graduating students and raising funds. The school has nearly 6,000 students at four campuses and other satellite sites and is projected to pass 3,000 at Smyrna this fall.

The report by the TBR Office of System-wide Internal Audit, however, found low morale on all four Motlow campuses and determined the president’s “persistent use of fear, intimidation, hostility and condescension as motivational tools was described by faculty, administrators and support staff from all campuses.”

…Bowling, though, said she requested an audit based, in part, on a section of the TBR report referring to the statements of five professors who said they were retiring because of Kinkel’s harsh leadership style. Bowling said she understands those people weren’t interviewed by TBR and weren’t leaving because of Kinkel.

…Comptroller’s Office spokesman John Dunn said the office received Bowling’s request and referred it to the Division of State Audit, which will review the issues as part of its next audit of Motlow State. The division would not audit the TBR report but would do its own investigation and draw its own conclusions, Dunn said.

…Bowling’s request comes as retired Motlow State professor Janice Harder sent a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam raising questions about the validity of the investigation…. Possibly most interesting, she notes that former Motlow State President MaryLou Apple was appointed to the Board of Regents and allowed to serve on the System-wide Audit Committee while her former institution was being investigated.

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