Kansas City Kansas Community College employees and students packed a board of trustees meeting Tuesday looking for answers from Board of Trustees members who last week removed the president from her post.
Few answers came.
Board of Trustees members filed into an executive session to discuss personnel matters following Tuesday’s public meeting, but gave no indication about whether the status of the college’s president, Doris F. Givens, would be decided.
After six years at the college, Givens was placed on administrative leave with pay Friday. The trustees named the college’s dean of math, science and computer technology, Edward Kremer,acting president.
During Tuesday’s two-hour meeting, employees, former employees, faculty, students and a resident of Wyandotte County asked the board about what led to the ouster of the president. Some said they supported the board’s action, while others said they were sad to hear about the leadership change and wished the board had involved the campus community in its decision.
The seven-member board voted 6–1 Friday in favor of ousting Givens. Wendell Maddox was the lone member against removing Givens.
“I don’t see how you make a decision like that without first hearing all the facts,” said Maddox, who has served on the board about eight years.
He said the decision was made before the board talked with Givens. Maddox said after several anonymous complaints about Givens had been made to the board, trustee chairman John D. Rios — “without consulting the full board” — launched a review into the complaints.
“Before we knew it an investigation was underway and information from that investigation was used to put Dr. Givens on administrative leave. I did not believe that Dr. Givens should be placed on administrative leave based on an investigation when we had not heard from Dr. Givens,” Maddox said. The complaints, he said, “could have all come from the same person. We don’t know.”
Rios declined to say whether an investigation had taken place, nor would he give any explanation about the board’s actions last Friday, saying it was a personnel matter that he was not at liberty to discuss.
Several college employees attending Tuesday’s meeting said they blamed Givens for a drop in morale among employees, who they said were afraid to talk to one another and feared for their jobs.
“I applaud the board’s action,” said Duane Shaw, a retired director of athletics for the college who later returned to work in maintenance there. He was fired two years ago from the latter job. Shaw said in the last two years more than a half dozen college workers had be let go without explanation.
“I want what is best for the college,” he said. “This has upset all the employees and caused the morale to sink to an all-time low.”
But Karisse Whyte, an assistant professor of freshman seminar, said the board action has confused the campus community.
“What’s the difference between an acting president and an interim president?” Whyte asked. She also asked board members to explain what administrative leave means. “Does that mean there exists parameters under which reinstatement may occur?”
Board members did not provide answers during the meeting. But Maddox later said, “I think this action does not leave any room for Dr. Givens to come back.”
Student Body President Gary Enrique Bradley-Lopez chastised board members and college staff members for using social media to “talk down our president,” he said.
“I question the leadership — this is a breakup, and it is sad that people who still work here are talking the way they do,” Bradley-Lopez said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It is time to bring love back to this school. Get turnt because this college is BAE.”
Bradley-Lopez explained that by getting turnt, he means getting excited about something positive happening at the school, and that BAE means “before anything else.”
The student body president said he and other students are frustrated from the board’s lack of transparency in its decision. “She is still my president,” he said.
“Rumors have been that faculty didn’t feel comfortable with her. I don’t know all the background business, but I know I loved her for being a black woman,” said Bradley-Lopez, whose Facebook profile picture is a photo of himself and Givens. “She brought so much respect to the position and got so much (respect) from the young women here. I was looking forward to shaking her hand as my president at graduation.”
Givens, the first female and first African-American president of the college, was hired in 2011. She had been vice chancellor for educational services for the Kern Community College District in Bakersfield, Calif.