community colleges

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.

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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.

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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.”

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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