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BCC faculty reaches agreement with President Ryan, no censure vote

Photo Credit: by Yoel Weisshaus
Photo Credit: by Yoel Weisshaus

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : Bergen Community College President G. Jeremiah Ryan avoided censure today by the school’s faculty, which instead OK’d a memorandum of agreement aimed at resolving the differences on both sides. The official tally was 118-51 in favor of the MOA.

PHOTO by Yoel Weisshaus

Ryan nor any of his administrators could immediately be reached for comment once the results were in.

It’s also unclear now how the student body will proceed. Student representatives said they initially preferred seeking signatures for a “no confidence” vote in Ryan but still would have likely proceeded if the faculty voted for censure.

The faculty union cited several disagreements with Ryan and his administration, including three appointments he allegedly made “without a search committee, as required by Middle State Commission of Higher Education and the State of New Jersey”:

BCC Pres. G. Jeremiah Ryan

Angela Harrington , first hired to fill a new position of Director of Communication and then promoted to Public Relations Director and appointed to BCC’s Executive Council;

Former Vice President Susan Johnson , who resigned amid controversy;

Dennis Miller , a former president and CEO of Somerset Medical Center in Somerville who ended up at BCC following the arrest of serial killer Charles Cullen — who admitted snuffing 13 patients and trying to kill two others — and now holds a full-time job as vice president of administrative service while maintaining a Morristown consulting business (READ: Full-time administrator or consultant? He’s both at BCC).

Students are particularly upset over a cut in hours for those with work-study jobs.

Until this past summer, students were allowed to work as college employees up to 20 hours a week. It was cut to 15 hours, as was the wage — from close to $12 to the minimum wage of $7.75. Several of those affected are single mothers.

Ryan and Miller said they were forced into the moves by federal guidelines that limited how much a student could earn per semester. However, students reviewed the federal guidelines and couldn’t find such a requirement. This at first left all of those who‘d reached the threshhold out of work, according to letters sent to the students.

However, an undetermined number of those who immediately consulted the school’s Career and Transfer Center were able to keep their jobs.

“Demoting and firing student tutors and lab aids means less help is available during lab hours, and a student is more likely to go away and never come back if they have no help trying to solve a Flash or 3d animation problem,” one disgruntled faculty member said.

“Our computers and IT infrastructure have fallen into disrepair. Internet access has become all but unusable, and no one even knows whom to call about it.”

Amid the turmoil are concerns about federal accreditation in BCC’s surgical nursing program, which supplies a significant number of nurses to hospitals in Bergen County. With accreditation, their degrees cannot be certified.

Representatives of BCC’s faculty unions overwhelmingly approved drafting the censure motion against Ryan earlier this month. But it never came to a vote today.

The resulting Memorandum of Agreement calls for “healthy discussions of issues and decisions that impact the campus community,” as well as “joint announcements when and where appropriate.”

Either Ryan or the president of the faculty union can call the other to speak on issues of concern, as well.

Meetings are also required among the labor union representatives and BCC administrators.

Most importantly, perhaps, the MOA specifically mandates: “No surprises,” citing communication, input of everyone involved, analysis and deliberation of issues as necessary.

“All discussion in a civil, respectful manner,” it adds.

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