Board of Regents

Former community college president’s ouster questioned, being reviewed by comptroller

Former Motlow State President Anthony “Tony” Kinkel is trying to restore his reputation four months after resigning from the position, reports the Murfreesboro Post, and the state comptroller is conducting a review of the proceedings that led to his ouster – including an audit that Kinkel says was unfair. But the Tennessee Board of Regents says it’s putting the matter in the past and looking ahead.

 “I’ve never seen anything like what happened here,” says Kinkel in a recent interview. “I just want my good name back.”

Continue reading

Regents push hiring of 100 new ‘success coaches’

The state Board of Regents wants $7.1 million to hire 100 new student counselors – or “success coaches” — at Tennessee’s community colleges and technical centers, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

It’s the most expensive of four “priorities” for new money established at a board meeting next week, totaling $14.1 million. Those items are in addition to requests for new capital project spending – the top priority there being a $17.7 million technology building at Columbia State Community College’s Williamson County Campus.

Continue reading

Third TN community college chief exits amid controversy

The president of Nashville State Community College is retiring effective Dec. 31, the middle of the school year following a lengthy tenure that was marked by impressive growth as well as flare-ups with some faculty, reports WPLN.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

After troubles at three community colleges, TBR chief plans better evaluations of campus presidents

The head of the state Board of Regents says she plans to change how the leaders of community colleges are evaluated, reports WPLN. This follows the recent resignation of two community college presidents under fire and harsh faculty criticism of a third. Tennessee has 13 community colleges.

In February, the faculty senate at Northeast State Community College passed a no-confidence vote in their president, who retired a few months later. Then, the president at Motlow State resigned after faculty accused him of creating a culture of distrust and fear. The president of Nashville State met similar accusations in a report obtained by the Tennessean.

The woman who oversees all 13 of Tennessee’s community college presidents is Flora Tydings, who was a college president herself until leaving for the position of TBR chancellor. She says any leader who’s not performing well brings down the whole system.

“Everybody needs to be held accountable for the job that they’re doing. My goal is to make sure that that’s happening,” she told WPLN. “I intend to be a little bit more involved with presidential evaluations and making sure that we’re staying on top of that.”

Historically, college presidents in Tennessee are evaluated every year. The most recent permanent chancellor of TBR, John Morgan, says he would review them mostly on their college’s academic performance, based on outcomes prioritized by the state, and on their fundraising.

This method doesn’t necessarily factor in things like interpersonal problems that stayed on the campus level, Morgan says. He suggests one way to address this: gathering input on the president from the community.

“I didn’t do that,” he says. “Could have. Probably should have, looking back on it.”

Tydings doesn’t have specifics yet on what her new review process will look like, although she has assigned an assistant to draft a proposal in the coming months. Her office says one possibility is to maintain annual reviews but add a more thorough evaluation every few years.

Motlow State president resigns in latest TN community college controversy

Motlow State Community College President Tony Kinkel resigned late Tuesday, a day before the completion of a blistering internal audit that accused him of using “fear, intimidation, hostility and condescension” as mainstays of his leadership, reports The Tennessean.

It’s the third case in recent months of a Tennessee community college president becoming mired in controversy. The other two cases involved Nashville State Community College and Northeast State. (Recent post on Nashville State HERE; on Northeast State, HERE.)

The audit, performed by the Tennessee Board of Regents and completed Wednesday, described a dismal work environment that pushed several longtime employees to leave the college because of Kinkel.

Auditors said that, as their work neared completion, Kinkel pressured multiple employees to discredit the findings in an apparent attempt to save his job.

“The manipulation of both people and information has created a sense of distrust among faculty and administrators that is deep,” the audit read. “The pressure placed on employees to do things they consider inappropriate or to take on unreasonable workloads is attributable to employees’ fear of retribution and of being labeled as not being a team player.”

Complaints logged throughout Kinkel’s tenure of less than two years triggered the audit. Additional allegations “regarding the President’s management of the College, integrity, treatment of employees, and handling of personnel matters” were logged while the auditors worked on the project this year.

…Kinkel defended his record and categorically denied multiple allegations in the audit, particularly that he had tried to interfere with its findings.

“None of us were given a chance to provide another point of view to these opinions expressed,” he said. “We never had a chance to even provide the truth.”

Northeast State Community College president quits after ‘no confidence’ vote, secret meeting

Embattled Northeast State Community College President Janice Gilliam announced in a letter to Tennessee Board of Regents officials that she is retiring effective June 30, reports the Kingsport Times-News.

TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings said she has accepted the retirement and plans to appoint TBR Executive Vice Chancellor James King to serve as interim president of Northeast until a national search for a permanent successor can be conducted.

Continue reading

Faculty claims ‘hostility, intimidation and retaliation’ at Nashville State Community College

Start of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Nashville State Community College maintains such an oppressive climate for its faculty members that it sought to monitor and interfere with efforts to ask them about it, according to a report commissioned by the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Nashville State’s executives sought to surreptitiously identify which faculty members were being confidentially interviewed by investigators from Middle Tennessee State University. Several administrators, including George H. Van Allen, the college’s president, improperly sought to get access to — and interfere in the distribution of — an online survey intended solely for faculty members, the investigators’ report says.

A large share of the college’s faculty members complained of “hostility, intimidation, and retaliation” by the college’s executive leaders, and spoke of working in an atmosphere where “trust is low and fear is high,” the report says. Most, it adds, “view the trend for this negative climate as continuing to spiral downward.”

In an interview with The Tennessean President Van Allen defended his record and described his critics as a “strong minority” of faculty members. He said he had tried to get access to the survey because he was concerned about its security.

Note: For more, see the extensive Tennessean story, HERE.

Boyd’s community college campaigning prompts Regents political policy review

Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd’s campaign appearances at two Board of Regents schools – The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Memphis and Northeast State Community College in Blountville – has prompted a review of Board of Regent policies on campaign events, reports the Associated Press.

Boyd was a key adviser in the creation of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise program to cover full tuition at two-year schools. The Knoxville businessman and philanthropist said in Nashville this week that “a lot of my life’s work has been helping kids get into these technical colleges.”

But the campaign stops at the schools in Memphis and Blountville appear to run up against a state law that bans the use of public buildings or facilities for campaign activity — unless all candidates are given the same access.

The head of the Tennessee Board of Regents is considering an overhaul of policies on political campaigning in response to the Boyd rallies on two of the system’s campuses.

“These events are allowed under state statute, as long as reasonably equal opportunity is available for other candidates,” Chancellor Flora Tydings said in a statement.

“I plan to brief the board on such use of state-owned property and determine its potential interest in developing a more detailed TBR policy concerning political or campaign requests on our system’s campuses,” she said.

Dick Williams, the chairman of Common Cause Tennessee, called it “unfortunate” that Tennessee doesn’t have a ban on all political activity at public facilities.

“It would be better to have the clear prohibition that you don’t use the campus or facility, period,” he said. “It would be better policy just to delete that exception.”

Williams noted that a recent legal opinion by state Attorney General Herbert Slatery found that it is lawful for campaign fundraisers to be held at the state-owned governor’s mansion because elected officials are excluded from the ban on campaigning on public property. The same exemption also applies to qualified candidates.

“They have the law and the attorney general on their side,” Williams conceded.

But it’s unlikely that a Democratic candidate like former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean would be allowed to hold a fundraiser at the governor’s mansion, he said.

Northeast TN Community College president target of ‘no confidence’ vote

The faculty at Northeast State Community College – in separate votes of “no confidence” by the Faculty Senate and the full faculty — have expressed disapproval of the institution’s president, Janice Gilliam, reports the Kingsport Times-News. The newspaper notes it’s the third time since 2014 that a Tennessee community college faculty has voted “no confidence” in a president and, in the two previous cases the targeted president wound up resigning.

Gilliam, president since mid-2009, has asked for an independent consultant to address the situation. Last week, she said she has no plans to step down in the face of faculty allegations including over-expansion, unrealistic revenue projections and an “environment of distrust.” The Tennessee Board of Regents is to have a team at Northeast State on Thursday to look into the situation.

The Senate vote was 10 for no confidence and one abstaining. The faculty vote was 98 no confidence votes, 16 confidence votes, one abstention and 12 not voting. The eligible voters numbered 127.

Chattanooga State President James Catanzaro announced his retirement in late 2014 after a no confidence vote in him by that school’s faculty, while more recently Jackson State Community College President Bruce Blanding in September of 2016 announced his earlier-than-planned retirement after a no confidence vote by the faculty of that college.