Board approves contract extension for Nixon

The MCCC Board of Trustees renewed the contract of President David Nixon for three years on a 6-0 vote, with Linda Lauer abstaining.

Nixon’s contract, which was set to expire on July 31, 2010, will now be extended by three years.

Mark Bergmooser, president of the MCCC Faculty Association, asked the board to postpone the renewal of Nixon’s contract until the final Higher Learning Commission report is released.

The Faculty Association voted on Tuesday to request that the board push back its decision regarding the contract.

    The final HLC report is expected sometime in January, but could be delayed if the final report contains any content that the college wishes to appeal. An appeal would push the final draft’s release to as late as April.

    The HLC sent a team to MCCC earlier this year to consider reaccreditation for the college. The team recommended that the college be granted a ten-year accreditation, but that a follow-up visit be executed in three years to review some of the issues that were found.

    Dr. James DeVries addressed the board in opposition to the renewal, citing “this board’s manifest dysfunction.”

    “You [the board] do not have before you at this time all of the information that is pertinent and has bearing on your decision,” Devries said.

“Anything less than postponement I believe borders on negligence and more important violates the public trust.”

A student at MCCC also spoke in opposition to the motion.
“There’s nothing wrong with waiting,” he said.

The board’s Presidential Contract Committee was made up of board Chairman William Bacarella, Secretary Mary Kay Thayer, and Vice Chairman William Braunlich, who was head of the committee.

Braunlich spoke for 20 minutes, recommending that the board go through with renewing Nixon’s contract, citing that Nixon’s contract is “at will,” and doesn’t carry the same protections that faculty contracts carry.

An “at will” contract says that the president may be released for any reason at any time.

“When people hear that [Nixon] is getting a three-year contract, they see it as a three-year guarantee,” Braunlich said.

“There is no guarantee.”

Braunlich referred to Nixon’s volunteering last year to freeze his pay, adding that the pay freeze would continue in the next three years.

Also mentioned was Nixon’s agreement to a cut in severance pay, which now stands at 90 days paid salary in the event of his departure.

Braunlich reported that the committee looked at statistics from the recent Feasibility Study results released by the Clements Group. The study found that in a poll of 85 individuals, consisting of 25 internal (board trustees, ect.) persons and 60 influential community residents, 95 percent had positive feedback on the leadership of the college, with five percent mixed and no negative feedback.

He said the committee met extensively with the team from the HLC.

“There was no criticism, no warning signs [in regards to Nixon],” Braunlich said.

“If there was anything serious, we’d know by now.”

The committee met Monday with Bergmooser, a speech professor, as well as faculty Vice President and math professor Dr. Mark Naber and Dr. William McCloskey, who teaches English and composition.

The group from the Faculty Association stated that they felt there were issues with internal communication and trust.

The faculty group mentioned gaps in communication regarding the establishment of the Middle College and the implementation of contact hours.

Linda Lauer abstained from the vote, saying that with the HLC report should come a new evaluation of the president. She also cited a lack of readiness for her to thoroughly review the proposed contract.

In the closing moments of the meeting, Nixon expressed his gratitude for the board’s decision, saying he was thankful to be the practitioner of a fine college with great upcoming projects and one that helps its students find jobs.

McCloskey said he feels that the faculty’s grievances were heard, despite the passing of the resolution.

“They listened to some of our concerns, and we respect their difficult decision,” McCloskey said.