Faculty at Kansas City Kansas Community College want the chairman of the school’s board of trustees to resign, calling him a plagiarist and asking him to apologize to students.
The faculty letter comes a week after a Kansas City Star story reported that KCKCC board chairman John D. Rios gave a two-minute commencement address to students, parents and faculty that was almost identical to a section of an address delivered by a student 13 years ago in Virginia.
A video of the two speeches reveal that Rios repeated graduate Tim Lee’s 2004 student commencement speech at Hampton University, almost verbatim.
“Certainly as a former educator and principal, Mr. Rios should understand that this situation places the KCKCC faculty in an untenable moral position,” it said in the letter acquired by The Star.
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“We are expected to hold our students to a high academic standard, as outlined in our own academic honesty policy, ‘Dishonesty of any type in a course, including examinations or plagiarized materials, can result in a grade of F and may be cause for suspension or dismissal.’ ”
The letter asks that the same standards be followed and applied to an address by a college trustee.
Rios, who is serving his final term on the college board and campaigning for an at-large Wyandotte County Commission seat, has not responded to calls and emails sent to him over the past week. The Kansas City Star has requested his comment on the plagiarism claim and this week’s call for his resignation.
Rosalyn Brown, who is the board’s vice chair, said since receiving the faculty letter, trustees have been working on a response they expect to send to faculty next week. She said Rios has not been involved in the development of that response.
The letter signed by the 2017-18 Faculty Senate, mentions two other problems faculty say they have with the board chairman.
“We feel that Mr. Rios is not acting in the best interest of the entire college community …” the letter states.
They claim Rios has ignored numerous attempts, initiated by faculty leaders, to involve members of the campus faculty in discussions about the direction of the community college.
Also in the letter faculty said they are “concerned about the recent changes regarding the college leadership and the subsequent decisions since that time.”
Specifically the letter mentions the decision to move the August trustees meeting, which was expected to attract a large audience, into a small conference room near the president’s office and therefore limit the number of people who could squeeze in.
“Given the damage to the image and reputation of the college and his resistance to open dialogue with the KCKCC community, we believe that Mr. Rios should be censured by the Board of Trustees,” the letter says. “Additionally, The Board of Trustees should consider requesting his resignation as Chairman of the Board.”
While the letter was addressed to the college’s newly appointed Acting President Jacqueline Vietti and the board of trustees, the question of Rios’ chairmanship does not fall in the president’s jurisdiction.
“I believe my name was included in the salutation of the letter from Faculty Senate to the Board of Trustees as a matter of courtesy,” said Vietti.
Vietti became acting president of the community college in July after the KCKCC Board of Trustees put President Doris Givens on administrative leave with pay.
Givens was sidelined after campus officials received anonymous complaints against her and Rios and, without board involvement, launched an investigation into the complaints.
Despite shrinking state financial support for Kansas higher education, the community college continues paying two presidents — each nearly $200,000 a year.