Officials, faculty leaders pleased with critique of community colleges Independent panel sees funding needs, infighting in Baltimore Co. system

September 19, 1997|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Faculty leaders and public officials welcomed yesterday the stinging review of Baltimore County's community college system issued by a team of independent experts Wednesday, viewing the 100-page critique as a guide to healing the troubled schools.

"We have to give the new board chairman and author of the

report credit for beginning to heal the tension," said Catonsville Community College Professor Michael Cain, head of the college's chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

"But the job is not done," said Cain, a veteran of 25 years in ## Maryland's largest two-year college system, which has 70,000 students and an $83 million budget. "We have to be very careful from here. There is promise, but all the things that brought the system to the brink of chaos are still on the table, still out there."

The report, delivered to the system's 15-member board and interim Chancellor Harold D. McAninch, notes infighting among the system's trustees and top administrators and says that technology is inadequate, programs often are redundant and libraries need more money.

The panel of four national education experts also said the system's name should be changed in favor of a single college called Community College of Baltimore County -- at Catonsville, Essex, or Dundalk.

A search committee is interviewing candidates for a chancellor dTC to lead the system.

Daniel J. LaVista, the previous chancellor, was fired in January.

Among the leading concerns in the report and of officials is the composition of the board, said Francis X. Kelly, board chairman.

The panel recommended that that eight trustees be chosen by state senators and seven by the county executive in consultation with the County Council, with final appointment by the governor.

Kelly has told colleagues privately that three members of the old board -- Ronald G. Abe, Bruce J. Chaillou and Alan J. Ferguson -- have not cooperated on his reform plan.

Other officials said Abe, is linked too closely to state Sen. Michael J. Collins, an Essex Democrat and county delegation chairman.

Abe is campaign treasurer for Collins, the senator said yesterday.

Collins said he recommended Abe for reappointment to the board this year, but not for previous appointments. He said he does not know if Abe will resign.

"The report sounds like a lot of positive focus for the future," Collins said.

Officials, who asked not to be identified, said Kelly wants Abe, Chaillou and Ferguson to resign.

Another board member, G. Carl Klausmeir, is reported to be prepared to resign because of personal business concerns.

Only Ferguson could be contacted yesterday. Ferguson, a trustee for 18 years, said he never lobbied for the board position and has never spoken with Kelly "face to face."

Kelly, selected by County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and appointed in July by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, would not discuss internal board matters yesterday. "We have four new board members, and many of the former board members are doing an excellent job," Kelly said.

Kelly disputed a report that the presidents at Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville will be replaced by provosts or deans -- a move discussed in the critique and one that could save $250,000 on each campus and allow the campuses to speak through one voice.

"Like all 56 of the report's recommendations, the issue of presidents will be taken up by the board," Kelly said. "This is not a new discussion in the system."

Kelly also said: "Right now, the fundamental core of our system remains sound. Many programs are first rate, the faculty is good to outstanding. There are first-rate programs, including health services, computer services, and English."

Leila Gonzalez Sullivan, president at Essex Community College, said yesterday she expects the board to "examine a number of report recommendations that address structural issues," such as the campus presidents, but she would not comment on her possible future.

She said the report is in part a "vindication of the faculty, finally, which was truly vilified last year. I agree we need long, hard looks at our funding base and need to be more competitive with technology. Our goal should be to recapture our good national reputation."

Yesterday, state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, a Perry Hall Democrat, said, "I'm for any change; I have no problem with how board members are selected. Frank Kelly and the board have to make that decision. That's why we appointed him."

While members of the system yesterday generally embraced the report as a blueprint for a new beginning, leaders of the 346 faculty members remain cautious about whether officials will follow through with the report's recommendations.

Nearly 60 percent of the faculty membership has voted to join a union -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The move requires enabling legislation, and AFSCME will lobby in Annapolis on behalf of the faculty.

"Kelly has done a remarkable job so far," said Cain. "He has

vision, he understands education and politics and is just the type of leader needed at this time.

"But as highly as we think of Kelly, things still are broken. Most of us are not willing to put our destinies in the hands of one man, no matter how well intentioned he is."

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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