Without reason – or explanation – a divided board of directors fires its chairman
In a noisy town hall meeting – punctuated by shouting matches and sniping – a divided North Idaho College board of trustees sacked President Rick MacLennan.
The 3-2 board vote means that Coeur d’Alene Community College will begin to seek both an interim and permanent president, while drawing on college reserves to continue paying the salary of 222,000. $ per year from MacLennan.
At Wednesday’s meeting, board chairman Todd Banducci, vice chairman Greg McKenzie and director Michael Barnes voted to fire MacLennan without cause. Weeks earlier, the same three directors voted to rescind a campus mask requirement, imposed by MacLennan – but on Wednesday none explained their reasons for ending MacLennan’s five-year term as president.
But defeated administrators Christie Wood and Ken Howard had a lot to say.
“This is 100% retaliation against a really great chairman,” Wood said, citing a personal complaint filed by MacLennan against Banducci, which the directors did not investigate.
“I think this whole process is a mess,” Howard said, criticizing the abrupt decision to oust MacLennan, with no clear succession plan in mind. “I’m just absolutely, totally disgusted with this board.”
Before the directors vote on his ouster, MacLennan tried to address the directors, but Banducci cut him off.
“Trustee Banducci, you’ve been bullying me for a long time and you’re starting over,” MacLennan said.
A member of the public stood up for MacLennan and directed his anger at Banducci.
“Is that what you like, Todd?” Chaos? “She said.” I think you are the most inept tyrant. Right up there with Trump. And you have ruined a great institution.
Banducci asked security to remove the woman from the meeting room.
During Wednesday’s meeting, vice-president of education, Lita Burns, agreed on the spot to take the interim presidency of the NIC. She will get a raise of $ 200,000, prorated for her time as president, up from her previous salary of $ 138,134, reported the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
MacLennan, meanwhile, will receive his salary for a year, and NIC will also pay his benefits.
Trustees agreed on Friday to launch two searches: an internal search for an interim president and a national search for a permanent president, the spokesperson-Review reported.
The vacancy of the president is not the only challenge facing the NIC.
Following complaints against Banducci accusing the chairman of the board of directors of unprofessional behavior, the Northwestern Commission on Colleges and Universities is investigating the college’s accreditation status.
But another challenge facing NIC is the split in its board of directors – a fully visible schism on Wednesday night.
On numerous occasions, Banducci and Wood have traded verbal blows, with Wood claiming that Banducci’s leadership approach would take NIC to court. At one point, Wood took issue with McKenzie’s short-lived attempt to propose a college-wide hiring freeze – noting that the item was not on the board’s agenda. At another point, Howard criticized Banducci for creating a culture of secrecy – and fired back, Banducci accused Howard of making the closed-door discussions public.
Although the composition of the presidential search committee has not been set, at least two directors will sit on the committee, the spokesperson-Review reported.
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