College of Western Idaho faculty say they have no confidence in president. Here’s why

The faculty of the College of Western Idaho no longer have confidence in the community college’s president, Bert Glandon, CWI’s Faculty Senate president said Tuesday.

In a letter she read to CWI’s board, Senate Faculty President Stephanie Ritchie Breach said she had polled the college’s 146 faculty members and found that most of them had no confidence in Glandon or the interim provost, John King, who was named in December and replaced last week.

Faculty members said their concerns in the past year have been ignored by the Board of Trustees, and that Glandon’s administration has created a fear that those questioning the decisions of senior leaders would face retaliation, Ritchie Breach’s letter said.

“In the past, it has felt like students were the priority,” Breach wrote in the letter, which a CWI spokesman provided after the Statesman inquired about the vote. “It does not feel like that anymore. More and more our college feels like it is moving towards a public ‘for-profit’ institution.”

Breach, an associate professor of criminal justice, questioned a proposal by King to move toward eight-week terms, arguing that the shortened terms would disrupt student progress. The college now offers 16-week classes and a summer term.

Of the 146 faculty senate members, which include full-time faculty members, 121 voted and 25 abstained from the straw poll, according to Breach. Of those voting, 70 percent said they had no confidence in Glandon.

Breach declined to comment further because she said she is not authorized to speak with the media.

Glandon and King did not immediately respond to Statesman requests for comment via email. Glandon’s secretary said he was traveling and could not be reached.

In a statement CWI spokesman Ashley Smith provided to the Statesman, Board of Trustees Chairman C.A. “Skip” Smyser wrote, “I thank the Faculty Senate Chair, Stephanie Ritchie Breach, for her comments related to her poll of faculty ... . As to the faculty senate statement that concerns personnel performance, there is nothing further upon which I am able to comment due to personnel privacy issues.”

Glandon was named president of CWI in July 2009. He had been the president of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Oregon, and after that president of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado.

The college has weathered some blows in recent years. It went to voters in 2016 and again in 2018 asking to borrow money for construction projects in Nampa and, in 2016, for a proposed Boise campus. The bond measures failed, and the Board of Trustees said that it would not put the bond to a vote again this May. Meanwhile, CWI’s student body has steadily grown and is now at about 30,000 students.

CWI has shuffled its top administrators in the past year.

In December, the college created the provost position and named John King as interim provost. He previously served in leadership roles at the for-profit colleges Brown College, the Career Education Corp., and the Lincoln Educational Services Corp., and he worked as an education management consultant.

The college selected Denise Aberle-Cannata as its permanent provost. She started this week. Aberle-Cannata has spent her career working for for-profit colleges, such as Alta Colleges Online, Lincoln Educational Services Corp., and National American University.

David Shellberg, the executive vice president for instruction, enrollment and student services, retired, according to a reference in Glandon’s weekly newsletter.

The school also was searching for a vice president of instruction as of October, after announcing in June that the position would replace the assistant vice president for instruction, held by Brenda Pettinger until she resigned last year.

Some faculty members also say Glandon misrepresented the impact of a dual-credit program, which allows high school students to enroll in college level classes, on the college’s finances. In January he told the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that the college was subsidizing the program with about $1.6 million.

Faculty members asked Glandon pointed questions at a forum last year, and he responded later in a written statement to 13 of them. Here are two:

“Q: How would you like staff, several department/levels away from you, to communicate with you regarding ideas or issues?

“A: There are several communication channels available including College Council via Staff Senate, as well as through supervisor levels within each organizational area which all flow up to the Executive Team.

“Q: What do you recommend to staff who feel ‘unheard’ by leadership? How can staff feel like we are heard and make a difference with our suggestions or experience with students?

“A: I think the first thing to do would be to speak with your supervisor to gauge whether or not you were heard. In our participative governance model, sometimes folks have ideas that are heard, but not implemented yet causing them to feel unheard. That being said, if you feel unheard by your supervisor, please feel free to utilize our wonderful HR Business Partners to explore other avenues for being heard.”

This is the entire letter:

Correction: A previous version of this article said that Bert Glandon was the first president of CWI. In fact, he followed Dennis Griffin. Glandon also served as president of Treasure Valley Community College and later as the president of Arapahoe Community College.

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.
Watchdog reporter Audrey Dutton joined the Statesman in 2011. Before that, she covered finance policy in Washington, D.C., during the financial crisis. She also worked as a reporter in Maryland, Minneapolis and New York. Audrey hails from Twin Falls.