Guest Opinions

Vote of ‘no confidence’ for CWI president unfair, based on faulty premise

College of Western Idaho President Bert Glandon speaks to the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
College of Western Idaho President Bert Glandon speaks to the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Courtesy

As a College of Western Idaho founding trustee, I was disappointed to read that the faculty issued a “no confidence” vote concerning the current president, Bert Glandon.

When the college was created in 2007, there were no facilities, staff, bank account, telephone or other amenities associated with a functioning organization. The first trustees were just five people charged with implementing a great idea put into play by the voters of Ada and Canyon counties. Dennis Griffin of the Selland College at Boise State agreed to serve as interim president. In 2009, after a nationwide search, the trustees selected Glandon, then president of Arapahoe Community College in Colorado and a former president of Treasure Valley Community College in Oregon, as CWI’s first official president. When asked to name my most significant contribution to CWI, I always reply, “Participating in the decision to hire Dr. Glandon.”

CWI opened in 2009 with 3,618 students (fall enrollment) and 37 full-time faculty. Today there are 31,636 students, 155 full-time faculty and a total staff of 1,146.The FY 2009 budget was $12,202,559. This year it is $70,764,024.

Though no longer a CWI trustee, I remain proud of the college’s role in the Treasure Valley and in the quality and commitment of the faculty. However, I am not enamored with the vote of “no confidence” and suggest it is based on a standard more appropriate for a well-established college. Glandon is not presiding over an institution of long-standing duration. CWI is not quite 12 years old. In that short time, there has been enormous growth. The growth numbers give me considerable confidence and are due in no small part to the efforts of the current president.

During the two years I served as chairman of the CWI Board of Trustees, I worked extensively with Bert Glandon. Our frequent early-morning meetings were designed to accommodate his 10-to-12-hour day. I don’t think that anyone can seriously dispute Glandon’s commitment and dedication to CWI, exemplified by his enthusiasm and long workweeks.

Against this backdrop, I respectfully ask the faculty to judge the president in the context of – and in sympathy for – the Herculean task required to move CWI from a new institution to what it is today. The “what it is today” can be deciphered by examining the opportunities available through the college, and by considering the thousands of men and women who have graduated and joined the workforce or gone on elsewhere to continue their education.

I am not asking the faculty or anyone else to abandon efforts to hold CWI’s administration and Board of Trustees accountable. I do ask that this be done through exercise of patience. Successfully starting a college and managing extraordinary growth are difficult tasks and present challenges that differ – sometimes substantially – from those typically found in more established institutions.

Boise resident Guy Hurlbutt is a former U.S. attorney and CWI trustee.