Petition Presented to The Honorable Charlie Crist, Governor of the State of Florida by Faculty and Staff of Broward Community

College Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We, the undersigned faculty and staff of Broward Community College, wish to bring to your attention the serious concerns that we have about the present and future course of our institution. During the past several years, certain actions undertaken by our current Board of Trustees have given rise to widespread concerns about the competence and attitudes of some members of that body. These actions have also significantly eroded faculty and staff morale at BCC. In the hope that these issues might be effectively addressed and remedied before there is additional damage to BCC’s institutional effectiveness, we offer our chief concerns for your consideration: • The principle of co-governance, acknowledged in the faculty contract, has, on multiple occasions, been ignored or disregarded by a Board of Trustees that has demonstrated its intention to micro-manage college affairs. Faculty have been routinely excluded from the decision-making process in numerous areas of policy that affect them directly, in contravention of the principle of co-governance. The Board of Trustees intervened in the faculty contract negotiation process in 2006, demanding changes after United Faculty of Florida/BCC representatives and administration representatives had agreed to contract terms. This resulted in a needless and lengthy confrontation between the board and faculty, resolved only when the board, without explanation, agreed to the original contract terms late in the year. The Board of Trustees prematurely and arbitrarily declared impasse in the 2007 bargaining cycle, preventing the faculty negotiating team from presenting its compensation proposal and other important items. The board’s stated explanation was that they had, in essence, no further interest in negotiations. UFF/BCC’s position is that negotiations should be continued sincerely and amicably until an agreement is reached. Some trustees have regularly and openly voiced their contempt and disdain for BCC administrators, faculty and staff. Former President Larry Calderon resigned in November 2006 after enduring regular and inexcusable verbal abuse from certain board members. On at least one occasion, a trustee, in a clearly unethical act, interfered in a faculty search, recommending an acquaintance for the position.

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These, and other actions on the part of Board, have done much to poison the atmosphere at BCC and have seriously impacted morale throughout the institution. They have also led us inextricably toward the conclusion that some members of the board, given their often arbitrary and capricious actions, have inappropriate conceptions of their roles as trustees of a public institution. Accordingly, we ask that you consider the following remedies: • Those individuals named to serve as community college trustees should be required to have educational and experiential credentials commensurate with the duties with which they have been entrusted, just as do administrators, faculty and staff. Political affiliation and/or connections alone are not adequate credentials for the task of overseeing an institution of higher education. The governor’s office, through which trustees are appointed, should take the initiative in setting more stringent criteria for the appointment of community college trustees, so as to assure that the best interests of the institution and the community are served. It would also be useful to establish a program whereby prospective trustees can be educated as to the responsibilities and obligations that the post entails. Trustees should demonstrate a genuine commitment to the mission of the college and to the purposes and ideals of higher education, including the fundamental principle of academic freedom. Trustees should be required to demonstrate a temperament suitable to the post to which they are appointed. Civil discourse and genuine respect for administrators, faculty, staff and students are crucial to maintaining collegiality throughout the institution. These minimal standards for respectful human interaction have been egregiously ignored by some current trustees. Trustees should, in the performance of their duties, demonstrate their sincere commitment to the democratic principles that frame the conduct of our public affairs. We are citizens of a representative republic, and will not quietly endure being treated as subjects of a feudal aristocracy. Trustees need to acknowledge that they are neither more nor less than public servants, and that their actions should conform to that role. It should be made clear to every prospective and sitting trustee that private agendas, personal vendettas and cavalier attitudes toward the college and its employees are unacceptable, and should not be allowed to shape institutional policy. Placing a public institution in the hands of trustees who fail to meet these minimal standards and who have no demonstrable commitment to the good of that institution is an affront to those of us who faithfully serve the college and to all Florida taxpayers. The governor’s office should take immediate steps to implement a clearly-delineated process for the reprimand and/or removal of unsuitable and/or incompetent trustees. It is unacceptable that an important public education institution, together with its employees, should be subject to the maladministration of a few individuals. It is crucial that a legitimate process of redress for such circumstances be established.

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Broward Community College has reached a critical juncture in its history. We have had three different presidents in the last three years. Adding to our institutional instability, many top college and campus administrative positions are either vacant, held by interim appointees, or staffed by newly hired administrators who have little or no familiarity with our institutional history. In the absence of reliably competent governance on the part of current Board of Trustees, our college faces an unprecedented crisis of leadership. Given the seriousness of this situation, and given the importance of assuring that Broward Community College continues to provide the people of south Florida with educational opportunities of the highest quality, we, the undersigned, respectfully request that Governor Charlie Crist agree to meet with us for a discussion of these issues. Further delay or inaction will assuredly only worsen an already grave situation.