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MassBay president gets no-confidence vote

Faculty cites chaos, distrust

Faculty members at Massachusetts Bay Community College have delivered a decisive no-confidence vote in President Carole Berotte Joseph, following months of unrest on campus and intensifying the pressure against the leader of the Wellesley-based school.

By a 93-to-44 vote, the faculty denounced Joseph Tuesday for causing "institutional chaos," creating a "divisive and distrustful atmosphere," and ignoring faculty recommendations.

Joseph "has jeopardized the academic integrity and reputation of the college by fostering a hostile environment at the college, one that is antithetical to the teaching and learning mission of MassBay CC and the community college system," the resolution stated.

The resolution is nonbinding but carries symbolic weight as a sign of faculty discontent. More than two-thirds of voting faculty members backed the no-confidence measure. About 80 percent of full-time staff voted.

The school's Board of Trustees, however, which oversees the 5,000-student college, unanimously backed Joseph yesterday, and the trustees said they believed the dispute could be resolved.

"We believe in the president and believe she is acting in the best interest of the college," chairman Jonathan Bower said by telephone. "That said, we expect her to reach out to the faculty and the staff in a spirit of conciliatory discussion to work this out."

Joseph, the first Haitian to head a US college, could not be reached for comment yesterday. She told the Globe in September that it was necessary to overhaul the college's leadership to lift it out of mediocrity.

"I am holding people accountable, and in the past there was none of that," she said in September. "Some people don't like it."

Joseph, who took over as president in March 2005, has come under sharp criticism in recent months.

In the summer, state regulators froze the college's popular nursing program from admitting new applicants because of staffing deficiencies. The state nursing board also warned that the college risked harsher penalties if it did not resolve the situation and has maintained the ban, a severe blow to the school's reputation.

Faculty members have also condemned Joseph for a sweeping administrative reorganization that ousted all six of the college's deans, which they say has damaged faculty morale and left the college in a state of disarray.

Joseph T. LeBlanc, president of the Massachusetts Community College Council, the union that represents the faculty at the state's 15 community colleges, called yesterday for trustees to remove Joseph.

"All of us - faculty and professional staff at MassBay and throughout the state - are waiting for the college's trustees to take an action," LeBlanc said in a statement. "Our students deserve the best leadership possible at MassBay. It's time for a change at the helm of this institution."

In September, the council censured Joseph after learning that the college's provost, Steve Berrien, had resigned after little more than a year in the position. The council criticized Joseph for creating a leadership vacuum on campus.

The resolution passed Tuesday also criticized Joseph for personalizing hiring practices, failing to attend faculty meetings consistently, and speaking with the faculty in a harsh and disrespectful manner.

The trustees' statement said union leaders had rebuffed Joseph's attempts to discuss their differences.

Tom Parsons, the college's interim dean of humanities, defended Joseph's performance and said he hoped she and faculty leaders could iron out their differences.

"I think she's done a good job," he said yesterday. "I think she will keep her job because the trustees will see all the academic improvements she's made."

Parsons added, "If she continues to stay her current course, which is to reach out and try to talk to the union, I think eventually things will move forward."

Patricia Plummer, chancellor of the state Board of Higher Education, declined to comment on the no-confidence vote, saying it was a matter for the college's board of trustees.

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