I disagree with the conclusions about Barton Community Colleges policy governance that Paul Unruh expressed in his recent letter to the editor.
You don’t have to look far in Kansas to find community colleges that suffered long-lasting damage from trustees who brought their personal agendas to the board and inflicted them on the college. Policy governance was not used in those instances but is designed to prevent them.
When a volunteer board uses tax dollars to pay a president upwards of $150,000 annually in wages and benefits to lead the college, it is ludicrous to think that they should be running the daily operations.
Would you really want this board deciding what textbooks should be used in a college classroom?
Can they be in offices and meetings day after day making decisions or evaluating the actions of each and every employee?
It is equally ludicrous to think that a board would not actively review the actions of its president to ensure that its directives are honored.
I do not know all the facts of Debbie Warren’s termination. I wasn’t there. As a Barton county taxpayer, I don’t see that I have a right to know the details. It is a personnel matter that deserves confidentiality.
I do know enough, though, to see smoke rising from the termination if for no other reason than the fact that she invested almost 28 years of her life in the college. I also know that where there is smoke, someone should investigate for fire.
As a taxpayer, I do see good reason for the board to make sure that the president treats college employees humanely, ethically and with due process. I also see good reason for the board to ensure that the information they received from the president about the termination was not inaccurate, incomplete or misleading.
All of those expectations are clearly stated in the board’s policy governance. Also clear, is the boards responsibility to rigorously review the president’s actions to ensure that they comply with both the spirit and the letter of the policy governance that directs his actions.
Board Chairman Paul Maneth didn’t serve Barton students and alumni well when he restricted their input to one person and five minutes at the board meeting while the president read his e-mail; and then, according to an alumna, when he told her on the phone that no one cared what they thought.
He isn’t serving the owners well either in his failure to monitor the board-president relationship.
No matter what type of governance a board uses, it will not be effective if it is not actively followed.
Barton’s policy governance provides everything needed to run the college in a way that effectively represents the owners and allows the college to thrive.
The board owes it to all of its shareholders and even the president to investigate the smoke to see if there is fire. Their policy, “monitoring executive performance,” clearly dictates how.
The college, its students and its employees cannot thrive if there is fire.
Please do your job.