Academic Senate passes down second vote of no confidence

By Skye Kinkade

College of the Siskiyous administrators responded last week to a second vote of no confidence by the Academic Senate. In a press release distributed by the COS Public Relations Office, administrators said the college’s financial woes are due to extraneous circumstances and not their own leadership.

The faculty’s Sept. 11 vote of no confidence in Vice President of Student Learning Robert Frost comes on the heels of a similar vote on COS president Randy Lawrence on Sept. 4, days after Lawrence submitted his resignation in an open email.

The Academic Senate met during a special meeting Sept. 11 and passed the no confidence resolution without dissent, said Academic Senate president Sean Abel. Forty of the college’s 43 full time instructors were present at the meeting, according to the meeting’s minutes.

The Senate also made a motion to create an ad hoc committee to “determine directions for moving the college forward from this point,” the minutes state.

Lawrence announced his resignation via an open email on Aug. 31, three days before the faculty group’s no confidence vote.

“I was surprised the faculty chose to take a vote after I made the decision to leave the college,” said Lawrence in the statement, which was released last week. “I cannot begin to guess what their motives might be at this point.”

“We all have differences of opinion,” said Frost in the release. “However, I hope faculty can begin to engage in activities that will restore the public trust. We know our community is our best and most important customer.

“I don’t take any of it personally,” Frost continued. “Folks need to vent, even if it gets unprofessional and seems mean-spirited. Times are very tough here. We are all lobbying for our groups in the ways we know, and I certainly support the faculty’s right to share their thoughts, opinions and feelings. Otherwise, I just need to keep trying to solve our fiscal and enrollment changes.”

Among the charges made against Frost in the no confidence resolution are his “failure to provide the vision for or the planning for enrollment management,” “disregard for the shared governance process and the collective bargaining agreement,” demonstration of “a contempt for Title V and California Education Code through attempts to circumvent regulations” and arbitrary decision making and a lack of collaboration in the hiring process.

The resolution goes on to state the faculty’s view that these problems led to a decline in enrollment at COS and have “created roadblocks to students’ ability to enroll and harming students’ chances for success.”

The resolution also specifically cites the restructuring of the athletic trainer position, which the faculty alleges “cost the district a minimum of $100,000 rather than saving... $9,000 as promised.”

According to the press release, the college’s enrollment has dropped over the past four years as a result of the “rigorous state requirements for students and class offerings, as well as a population decline in the region.” The college faces a budget gap of more than $600,000, according to the press release, and is “asking all employees to agree to a 7.5% wage reduction for this year only.”

“We cannot close the budget gaps without sacrifice from everyone, but I can certainly understand bargaining groups not wanting to absorb any cuts,” said Lawrence in the statement. “The college has faced cuts every year for the past three years, and we are cut to the bone.”

“We have had to make many difficult changes in the past three to four years,” said Frost, “and many of those changes were not fun or easy or even welcome. Administration usually gets the blame for those changes. We have got to band together as a college, just as citizens did during the Great Depression, to pull out of this spiral.”

Abel said the faculty is in the process of creating the ad hoc committee. Topics including student issues and on-campus governance issues will be addressed.