WXXI AM News

MCC Board of Trustees gets no-confidence vote from faculty union

May 30, 2019

Credit Emily Hunt for WXXI News

Monroe Community College's faculty union has expressed its lack of faith in the college's Board of Trustees by passing a no-confidence vote Wednesday.

It's the latest move in an ongoing dispute between faculty and college leaders. Last November, the union issued a vote of no-confidence in college President Anne Kress.

"If Monroe County wants to have a community college that they can continue to see as a prosperous and sustainable institution, we need help and we need it now," said Bethany Gizzi, president of MCC's Faculty Association.

Gizzi said 91 percent of faculty members who cast a ballot Wednesday voted no confidence in the board. Of the eligible 717 full-time, part-time, adjunct, and non-teaching union members, 242 -- about a third -- participated in the vote.

Turnout was especially low for adjunct professors, which Gizzi said is not unusual as the vote took place at a time when classes were not scheduled.

"People are just overwhelmed and suffering at this point," Gizzi said. "The current system that we have, of checks and balances, isn't working, and I think that the low voter turnout reflects a lack of trust, a lack of hope, a lack of any kind of positive feeling about what's coming next."

The union's no-confidence vote claims the Board of Trustees mismanages and squanders college resources and lacks a sense of urgency regarding declining enrollment and a budget shortfall.  Gizzi pointed to a financial forecast report that the board contracted an outside accounting firm to prepare.

"I don't know if it's accurate to begin with," she said, "but even if it is, if the board is going to present a report that suggests we're going to completely use our remaining fund balance within three years, then why are they not talking to the public and to our county and state leadership about what they're going to do to change that?"

The Faculty Association is calling on state and local leaders to take action. Members of the MCC Board of Trustees are appointed by either the Monroe County Legislature or the governor.

"So we would ask that the county (legislature) and the governor review the peformance of the members of the board that they have appointed," Gizzi said, "and if they are found to be lacking in their responsibilities, then we would ask that they be replaced."

The Faculty Association will formally present the results of Wednesday's no-confidence vote to the MCC Board of Trustees at its meeting on Monday.

Board chair Barbara Lovenheim issued the following written response:

“We are only aware of the Faculty Association union’s vote of no confidence via the news media; to date, the MCC Board of Trustees has not received any direct communication from union leaders regarding it. Until union leaders share with the Board the resolution they put before their members and the vote results, it’s premature for me to comment.”