MCC Board formalizes support of President Anne Kress while teacher groups express 'no confidence'

Dec 4, 2018
Originally published on December 4, 2018 9:32 am

The results of a vote of "no confidence" in Monroe Community College President Anne Kress was the hot topic at a well-attended College Board of Trustees meeting Monday afternoon.

It was standing room, as well as sitting room, only, as a sea of people in red "Union Strong" shirts and signs filled any space to hear Faculty Association President Bethany Gizzi and Faculty Senate President Amanda Colosimo speak before the Board of Trustees meeting.

Here, the women broke down some numbers, comparing Faculty Association surveys of years past, showing a decline in employee satisfaction at the school.

On behalf of those who voted, Gizzi said they are asking the board to review Kress and her leadership team, and if they won’t budge, they are prepared to hold another vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees.

The group then filed across the hall for the official Board of Trustees meeting, where after a private executive session, the board voted on and passed a resolution in support of Kress before conducting the open public comment session.

Many faculty, staff and retirees brought up that move in their comments. 

"Remember your fiduciary duty and why you were put on this board. Your job is to do what’s best for the college, and the hardworking taxpayers of this county," said Jesse Redlo, an adjunct professor at MCC. "And actually listen to us before making decisions, which you've shown that you’re not going to do given that you passed your support of confidence in Dr. Kress before hearing any of us."

There were 34 people signed up to speak during the public comment session, but the board capped the open forum at one hour.

Kress also had a moment to address the board during the meeting.

"Our college is inspiring," she said. "And we prove ourselves worthy of our community's confidence each and every day. I am honored and humbled to serve MCC and this community."

Two hours after the start of the board meeting, public comment was open. 

"I do not understand why it is acceptable for officers of this college to be inattentive during these meetings," said Mary Jo Vest, a biology professor since 1996, pointing to the lack of respect she feels from the board.  "I do not understand why it is acceptable for trustees to avoid eye contact with those speaking with them."

Gizzi stepped to the podium, expressing concern over that resolution.

"The statement that was made by the Board of Trustees prior to the vote even occurring, and the last-minute addition of a resolution you passed tonight, indicate to me and to my colleagues here that you are not prepared to hear us."

The MCC Board of Trustees released a statement saying, "Kress had demonstrated skilled and dedicated leadership and has involved the college in her decision making, and has remained steadfast in her focus."

Other concerns expressed in regard to the vote of no confidence included retiree benefits, general respect for teachers and staff and the treatment of adjunct professors.