For the third time in three years, Green River College faculty have voted that they have “no confidence” in the school’s leadership.
Green River College’s faculty have voted that they have no confidence in the Auburn community college’s board of trustees — the third time in three years that they have taken a no-confidence vote on the school’s leadership.
But it’s unclear what impact, if any, the latest vote will have.
Faculty members presented their vote to the five-member board of trustees at the start of the board’s Wednesday board meeting, along with an outline of the reasons the faculty believe the college is off-track.
“Our college is in a crisis of governance, and the board has been and continues to be negligent in its responsibility to ensure the college’s fulfillment of its mission,” according to their statement.
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The board is headed by Pete Lewis, former mayor of Auburn, who did not return calls, instead referring questions to the college’s executive director of college relations, Allison Friedly. Friedly said the trustees have “delegated speaking responsibilities to me, because of the nature of the whole thing.”
She said the board “was somewhat surprised” by the vote, “and disheartened by the fact that they (faculty) are not seeing some of the progress the board has made, and administration has made, in terms of shared governance and commitment to diversity by the board and administration.”
Friedly said it was useful for the faculty to air a list of problems. “In the past they’ve said they feel as though they’re not part of the governance of the college, and to have specific instances, and understand where this is coming from — their enumeration of things is helpful,” she said.
Green River has been roiled by controversy for two years. Earlier this year, two leaders of the college’s faculty union lost their jobs when the programs they taught were eliminated. College officials said the programs were expensive and enrollment was low, but faculty members called it a blatant case of union-busting.
Jaeney Hoene, an English instructor at Green River, said the faculty is concerned that the college — which has one of the highest enrollments of international students in the state — is focused on building up international education programs at the expense of programs that mostly serve local students.
In their statement, faculty members wrote that the board has failed to “intervene in the face of a low and grinding morale across the campus where employees are not valued but rather harassed, and the mission of the college is impeded.”
They have been especially critical of President Eileen Ely, the subject of twoearlier no-confidence votes, and have asked her to step down. When the second vote of no confidence was presented to the board in May, the board responded with a letter supporting Ely’s presidency.
In their statement, faculty members say trustees have failed to provide oversight of “questionable financial operations” and have not “responsibly and respectfully” communicated with the faculty to address their concerns. They also voiced concerns about the board’s unwillingness to listen to public comment on the cuts during a public meeting.
They say about 40 percent of all full-time employees have left the college since Ely became president five years ago, and describe a “toxic campus atmosphere” that has led to “the exodus of valued and talented employees.”
Faculty members say they are also presenting their petition to Gov. Jay Inslee, and asking him to appoint trustees who understand the concerns of labor when the current members’ terms expire.
In an unrelated matter, Friedly confirmed that three investigators from the U.S. Department of Education are at the school this week to review whether it is in compliance with the Clery Act, a federal act that requires schools to report crimes on campus.