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Controversies

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Controversies

H. Barton Olson, 1954

(Daily Press, March 17, 1954) – “Olson Fired at MVTI, Students Cry ‘Unjust’ – H. Barton (Bart) Olson, Clinton, health and physical education instructor at Mohawk Valley Technical Institute, will be relieved of his duties next month in a controversial dismissal that is meeting some opposition from the student body.
Seymour Eskow, public relations official and head of the department of which Olson is a member, disclosed last night that he fired the instructor effective April 1, and that a replacement has been hired.
Eskow said an assembly has been scheduled for 9 this morning ‘to clarify the issues’ in the controversy raging over the dismissal. But a student source said the assembly will be ‘a protest meeting.’
Today’s assembly was called as a result of a meeting Monday night between school officials and student supporters of Olson. The instructor’s dismissal was termed ‘unjust’ by some students.
Eskow acknowledged that Olson had sought a raise in pay. The instructor, who has been a member of the faculty since 1947, draws about $4,500 a year. According to the department head, Olson was fired when he balked at an Eskow memorandum requesting him to accept a downward adjustment in his schedule of recreation classes and to take up varsity baseball and track coaching duties.
Eskow said Olson told him he would do no varsity coaching at his present rate of pay.
Since the school was committed to a baseball schedule this spring, Eskow said, Olson’s refusal ‘left no alternative’ other than relieving the instructor of his duties and bringing in a new faculty member.
Eskow said the dismissal order is ‘irreversible.’ He added that his decision received the support of Albert V. Payne. President, and the nine-member board of trustees.
In disclosing that he fired Olson, Eskow said, ‘I have the highest regard for Bart Olson as a human being and a coach. However, our differences of opinion as to the program and (work) load make this dismissal irreversible.’
Olson said, ‘I think this is a planned move. Frankly, I’m fed up with them.’ He was referring to school officials.
Olson claimed the officials ‘reversed their stand entirely’ when they decided to ask for a cut in recreation classes while seeking his services as a coach. Previously, he said, school officials sought intensive recreation schedules with less emphasis on varsity sports.
He recalled that last Fall the student body through its council paid him $500 extra to undertake varsity basketball coaching duties. Now, he said, the student council has voted to give him $1,000 towards his pay ‘from now until September’ if he remains on the faculty.
The instructor maintained that he was hired as a teacher of health and physical education only while coaching was ‘more or less voluntary.’ He also taught a marriage relations course.
Olson said that ‘in effect’ he was fired ‘because I asked for more money, not because of incompetency.’…
Olson’s successor will be Jonathan C. Carpenter, now teaching in Hopkinsville High School in Kentucky, formerly of Cobleskill. He will arrive in Utica March 24 to take up his duties, Eskow reported. …
The issue of varsity sports has long been controversial at the school. There has been talk of a move to ‘de-emphasize’ sports, a plan which is meeting stiff opposition from the student body.”


(Observer-Dispatch, March 17, 1954) – “In MVTI Dismissal Controversy - Students Seek Parley with Trustees – The student body of Mohawk Valley Technical Institute this afternoon sought a meeting with the board of trustees tonight as a third party to help settle what they describe as a ‘student-administration controversy that has mushroomed all out of proportions and threatens to get out of hand.’
The action came at the conclusion of a three-hour meeting of the student body attended by Albert V. Payne, president of the institute; Seymour Eskow, head of the general education department and H. Barton Olson, Clinton, the school health and education instructor.
The meeting followed disclosure last night that Olson has been fired as instructor and coach as of April 1, and that a replacement has been hired.
The meeting was called in an attempt to clarify these issues.
Eskow who discharged Olson said the decision was ‘irreversible. If my decision is reversed because of student pressure, I will not accept it and you know what that means, he said.
Payne told the student body it was an administrative decision and had been approved by the board.
The students however, greeted Olson’s appearance with wild applause and the vast majority made clear they wanted him kept on.
Olson has been getting $4,500 per year. Eskow said dismissal came when he balked at a directive to reduce his schedule of recreation classes and to take up baseball and track coaching duties.
Olson, addressing the students, said he had wanted more money for coaching and pointed out that previously additional help had been hired for this purpose.
He claimed that there had been an apparent reversal of the administration view in now wanting varsity sports.
It was brought out at the meeting that the student council had offered to pat $1,000 additional to Olson to continue until September. Payne said this was reported to three trustees he had been able to contact and rejected on the basis that the decision already had been made.
Olson’s slated successor is Jonathan C. Carpenter, formerly of Cobleskill, who is now teaching in a Kentucky high school. He is scheduled to receive $3,600 per year.
The meeting discussion which became heated at times revealed apparent widespread student dissatisfaction with some other administration policies. One was Payne’s removal of two faculty members, James Gair and Joseph Kessler as counselors to the student advisory council.
Others mentioned were an administration crackdown on fraternity and sorority initiation practices and reported attempt at censorship of the schools newspaper.
One student, John Curiano, claimed Payne had agreed to fight for retaining Olson after the Council has said it would supply the money. Payne denied this.
In pressing for a meeting with the trustees tonight, the students pointed out that examinations start next week and they (students) must make a decision on what they are going to do in the next couple of days.
Eskow assured the students that there will be a varsity sports program under the new man. He said there had been a conflict between him and Olson on the handling of the recreation program at the Institute and that this ‘gulf’ has steadily widened.
Eskow also said Olson had told him that he (Olson) didn’t think he would come back this year, and that he began then seeking other applicants for the job.
He said he had nine in all.
Eskow said that he was concerned about improving counseling services for students, the development of an evening recreation program for students which he said are part of the job of the health and physical education instructor.
Olson claimed a letter Eskow had written job applicants had said the institute was not interested in varsity teams but in group activities. ‘How can they say that hey are now for a varsity program?’ Olson asked.
‘I don’t feel that I am the whole issue in this. I don’t feel sports are the whole issue. It is a matter of principle and honor. ‘
‘I don’t think everyone is being honest,’ he continued. ‘I don’t think the administration is being above board and fair with me and the student body and perhaps other faculty members.’
In his final remarks Olson advised the students to ‘Do whatever you feel is best for the school.’
Richard Faass, president of the Student Advisory Council, appoints his committee to meet this afternoon with Willis V. Daugherty, acting chairman of the board of trustees, in an effort for arranging tonight’s meeting.

(March 19, 1954, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Controversy at MVTI – Students Hear Decision with ‘Mixed Feelings’ – The decision of Mohawk Valley Technical Institute trustees upholding the firing of H. Barton (Bart) Olson and accepting the resignation of Joseph A. Kessler Jr. was received with ‘mixed feeling’ today by the students.
That’s the way the president of the Student Council, Richard Faass described the situation this morning. He said he didn’t know what further action, if any, would be taken by the students.
Meanwhile, Albert V. Payne, institute director, said at noon everything seemed to be peaceful and calm at the school. Classes were being held as usual.
The Board of Trustees met with six student representatives last night to discuss such things as athletic importance, censorship and fraternities and sororities.
It passed eight resolutions, most of them after hearing student requests. Mr. Kessler, a teacher of labor relations, economics and citizenship, had resigned his $5,144 a year job earlier yesterday in what he said was a protest against administration policies.
(He told a Utica newspaper reporter that ‘I feel that I can no longer maintain my integrity as a teacher and a man under the conditions that presently prevail at the institute. Furthermore, I feel that I can no longer continue to function as an instructor in American government, teaching democratic principles when I feel that it is obvious that these principles are being ignored by my supervisors and when it would be impossible for a man who had been arbitrarily discharged to exercise the right to a fair and impartial hearing before the board of trustees.’)
The controversy started last week when students objected to the firing of Coach Olson, effective April 1. The school had said Olson declined to accept a reduction in teaching assignments to coach varsity track and baseball, and wanted a salary increase.
The Board’s eight resolutions:
ONE: Upheld the ouster of Olson.
TWO: Deemed varsity athletics a ‘worthwhile activity’ that ‘should be supported within the means available,’ but at the same time not ruling out an intramural program.
THREE: Announced the board was ‘not opposed to fraternities and sororities’ and took under study the ‘matter of whether any regulation is necessary.’
FOUR: Approved ‘publishing of a newspaper by the students’ and opposed ‘any form of censorship.’
FIFTH: Announced steps will be taken to correct ‘certain inaccuracies in the published catalog’ of the institute.
SIX: Declared that the appointment of student advisers is the responsibility of the president, who will accept students’ suggestions.
SEVEN: Accepted Kessler’s resignation.
EIGHT: Outlines policy for hiring and firing of faculty members and for handling grievances.
Mr. Olson had been granted a hearing upon student request immediately after the six student delegates had presented their complaints.
The resolutions followed in substance the theme of complaints of the students, who were given a hearing after a day-long attempt to arrange a meeting.
Probably 100 of the 225 enrollment were in the building at the time of the hearing. None was around when it broke up about midnight.”

(A story in the Observer-Dispatch said five of the nine board members were able to be present for the conference with students. Willis V. Daugherty acted as chairman in the absence of Frederic Roedel. Others present were Cyril Statt, Thomas Kernan, Robert Thomas, and David Evans. The students were represented by Richard Faas and John Curliano, Utica; Frank Pappacardo, Haverstraw; Ronald Schapeau, Brooklyn; Donald Nocero, Jamestown; and Georgia Moseman, Schoharie. – Another story indicated that the catalog inaccuracies included references to a skating rink on the campus and a ‘four-story’ school building. Another article said that during a larger assembly, students complained that the administration had cracked down on fraternity and sorority initiation practices and that there were attempts to ‘censor’ the school publication. Payne acknowledged that there had been some concern about the extent of hazing.)

Harold L. Burdick, 1954

(Daily Press, March 23, 1954) “…disclosure late yesterday afternoon that Harold Burdick, head of the institute’s retail management (department), who has been given an “opportunity” to resign, will be represented by an attorney …at a hearing with the school’s board of Trustees. Burdick said Payne asked him orally ‘without warning’ last Saturday to resign his $7,500-a-year post at the end of the school year June 30. Payne revealed that the decision to request Burdick’s resignation was made at the January meeting of the board of trustees. The board’s decision was to notify Burdick by April 1, the idea being that this would give him three months notice. Payne declined to comment on the reasons for the Burdick ouster. ‘He’s calling for a hearing with counsel,’ the president said, ‘so I don’t think it would be fair to make a public statement before the hearing.’ However, both Burdick and his lawyer, Kenneth Fuller of Brown, Hubbard, Felt & Fuller, acknowledged that a charge has been placed against the department head. But both declined to reveal the nature of the charge, as did Thomas Kernan, a trustee, who said the issue will be aired at a hearing Thursday….Kernan said Burdick was not asked to resign, but given ‘an opportunity’ to quit his post which he has held since the institute opened in the Fall of 1946. ‘There is a difference,’ the trustee said, referring to the request and ‘opportunity.’ … Burdick’s department has an enrollment of 140 students, about half the total student body. A holder of a bachelor and master’s degree from Syracuse University, Burdick came to the Institute from Syracuse where he was coordinator of distributive education, a program of retailing for public school pupils and adults.” The Observer-Dispatch for March 22, 1954 also reported that Burdick had previously been head of the new accounts department at Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh.

(March 23, 2954, Utica Newspapers) – “MVTI to Cut Faculty More? Hearing Is Set – President Albert V. Payne of Mohawk Valley Technical Institute said last night that more cuts in the faculty may follow the requested resignation of a department head, the dismissal of one instructor and the resignation of another.
But the cuts, if any, will be strictly the result of a declining enrollment. ‘They won’t be related to anything else at all,’ Payne said.
The school president’s statements followed the disclosure late yesterday afternoon that Harold Burdick, head of the Institute’s retail management (department), who has been given ‘an opportunity’ to resign, will be represented by at attorney Thursday afternoon at a hearing with the school’s board of trustees.
Burdick said Payne asked him orally ‘without warning’ last Saturday to resign his $7,500-a-year post at the end of the school year June 30.
Payne revealed that the decision to request Burdick’s resignation was made at the January meeting of the board of trustees. The board’s decision was to notify Burdick by April 1, the idea being that this would give him three months notice.
Payne declined to comment on the reason for the Burdick ouster. ‘He’s calling for a hearing with counsel,’ the president said, ‘so I don’t think it would be fair to make a public statement before the hearing.’
However, both Burdick and his lawyer, Kenneth Fuller of Brown, Hubbard, Felt & Fuller, acknowledged that a charge has been placed against the department head. But both declined to reveal the nature of the charge, as did Thomas Kernan, a trustee, who said the issue will be aired at a hearing Thursday.
Asked whether there was any connection between the Burdick matter and the dismissal of one instructor and the resignation of another, Kernan replied, ‘None whatsoever.’
Last week, school officials made public the dismissal of H. Barton Olson, health and physical education instructor. A few days later, Joseph A. Kessler, an instructor in government, announced his resignation in protest against the institute’s administrative policies.
Kernan said Burdick was not asked to resign, but given ‘an opportunity’ to quit his post which he has held since the institute opened in the Fall of 1946. ‘There is a difference,’ the trustee said, referring to the request and ‘opportunity.’….”

(Enrollment at this time had declined from 550 three years earlier to 287)

(Utica Daily Press, March 26, 1954) – “Recess Meet, Burdick Ends His Job Today – A postponement was called yesterday in the hearing of Harold L. Burdick, ousted Mohawk Valley Technical Institute retail management head, into Burdick’s reasons for believing he should not have been fired.
But after today Burdick will relinquish his post and remain at the institute only as a paid ‘visitor.’
The postponement was called yesterday after an hour and a half session in which Burdick was questioned by members of the Board of Trustees. Upon conclusion, members agreed it would be impossible to resume at least until after next week.
In the meantime, the hope was expressed that two key board members – J. David Hogue and Frederic Roedel – would return to the city for the session. The importance of Hogue and Roedel was pointed up by board members who said those two were the only ones familiar with the past work of Burdick.
All of the six board members attending yesterday’s meeting were appointed after the county operation of MVTI began last summer. Hogue and Roedel had served on the board under the old state administration.
Burdick was told by Thomas Kernan, board member, that opinions of the two holdover board members had both been sought before the board has approved the retail head’s ouster in January.
After the hearing, Burdick was told he will continue to have the use of his office and whatever materials he needs. But, with the close of the school term today, he will lose all authority. He will remain on the payroll until June 30, close of the next school term
Burdick termed the role that of a ‘visitor’ and agreed not to enter into any ‘acrimonious discussion’ with the students during the time he is in the school.
Principal contentions of Burdick yesterday were that he had done a good job in his eight years in the post but that in (the) last year he had ‘been given a very nice runaround/’
He told of accomplishments under his direction and of problems he had faced.
Among the accomplishments:
1. His department supervised its students on the job and thus maintained close contact with both the students and the company officials.
2. A retail Bulletin, “High Points,” which was a digest of articles in trade journals, drew praise from retail leaders across the nation after preparation and distribution by the department.
3. Since January, the month the board voted to ‘permit him to resign,’ he had been ‘on the road’ promoting the school to prospective students.
4. At a minimum wage law hearing, his protest – the only protest from a school in the state – had resulted in the law being changed so that students on retail jobs no longer ‘were penalized’ five cents an hour.
In reply to what he said were charges that he had been responsible for a decline in retail trade enrollment, Burdick said he actual reasons were:
1. He has been serving a dual role as retail head and registrar – thereby saving the state $7,500 a year.
2. The ‘freak’ high-enrollment post-war years could not be used for comparison.
3. Electronics and mechanical departments were plugged more because of the need for such workers in the Utica area. Retail students, he said, come mostly from outside the city.
Burdick agreed that when the hearing resumes, he will be prepared to show further what accomplishments he had made and what he believes should be done to improve the school.
Attorney Kenneth W. Fuller represented Burdick, who requested the hearing after learning last week of the board’s decision. Cyril Staat presided in the absence of Chairman Roedel and Vice chairman Willis Daugherty.


Patrick McGuire, Forest Gochnour, Ronald Janowsky 1978


(Utica Daily Press, May 5, 1978) – “Demonstrators seek decision-making role- A group of Mohawk Valley Community College students calling themselves Students for Quality Education led a demonstration yesterday on the steps of Payne Hall and charged the administration with ignoring them in decision-making.
The two-hour protest attracted between 300 and 500 students and faculty, witnesses said.
Equipped with signs and white T-shirts lettered in green, “MVCC makes dollars, not sense,” the students presented several complaints.
President George Robertson said the students’ concerns include being excluded from evaluating faculty, low faculty salaries, the large size of classes and overcrowded conditions.
Robertson said the students also expressed disapproval of the administration’s decision not to renew a one-year appointment of a faculty member.
Robertson would not name the individual but the faculty member is Patrick McGuire, a social sciences instructor, according to Donald Willner, president of the MVCC Professional Association. Willner said the administration does not have to give a reason for its decision.
Willner, one of four faculty members speaking at the demonstration, said the professional association shares many of the students’ concerns. Willner said the faculty is also concerned with what he said are low salaries and an ‘overabundance of part-time faculty.
‘The students feel that they pay a lot of money and are being shortchanged,’ Willner said. Some part-time instructors are not easily accessible, the students say.
Willner said the faculty’s contract with the college expires Aug. 31. Negotiations will begin next Wednesday. However, Willner said yesterday’s demonstration was not tied to the upcoming negotiations. …
The Students for Quality Education has called for a ‘vote of confidence’ Monday….Some professors… have organized a Faculty Committee Concerned with Student Concerns….”

(May 10, 1978, Utica Daily Press) “A victory for MVCC students – Mohawk Valley Community College students who have been seeking a greater role in decision-making at the college achieved at least a partial victory yesterday.
President George Robertson said a student evaluation of faculty said a student evaluation of faculty was being planned and could be in operation this semester.
The announcement was made yesterday after the regular Board of Trustees meeting. About 75 students and faculty members gathered outside the meeting room and a few students spoke after the meeting.
Tim Martin, who acted as spokesman for the students, said they thought faculty members at the college lived in ‘an atmosphere of oppression’ and those that did not conform were dismissed.
‘Education cannot be based on fear.’ He said, ‘we have pointed out that education must be evaluated on the criteria of learning, not just budget.’ The students, who called themselves Students for Quality Education, were the same ones involved in a protest demonstration Thursday at the college.
Specifically, the students said they are supporting Patrick McGuire, a social sciences instructor; Ronald Janowsky, a geology instructor; and Forest Gochnour, a science instructor. All three have not had their appointments renewed.
Dr. (sic) Milton Jannone, professor of social sciences and spokesman for a group known as Faculty Committee Concerned with Student Concerns, said he had circulated a petition in support of Janowsky and obtained the signatures of 102 out of a possible 140 or so faculty members.
Martin said the students were circulating a ‘vote of no confidence’ petition and expected to have the results on Friday. The students, he said, were also concerned that faculty members are underpaid and classes overcrowded.
Robertson said a committee made up of three students and three faculty members would be headed by Lewis A. White, dean of students, and said they would organize the evaluation process. …
‘I won’t say I’m offering hope about the present people under discussion,’ Robertson said, referring to McGuire, Gochnour and Janowsky. ‘McGuire was offered a one-year term appointment and we don’t have a need for his services next year.’
The trustees, he said, are reviewing Janowsky’s appointment, which he said was first recommended for disapproval by the faculty and then reversed.
Trustee Russel Fielding told the students that he thought some faculty members were using them for their own purposes. ‘A simple letter to the chairman of the board would have been sufficient,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to hit the streets. Don’t put your self into the position of publicly being used as a front for someone else’s problems.’ ”


In May 1978 President Robertson and Vice President Robert Barde were the subject of a faculty-student no-confidence vote. Faculty, led by social sciences Milton Jannone (spokesman for Faculty Concerned with Student Concerns), voted 116 no to 20 yes. Students, led by Guy Martin, voted 564 no to 141 yes. (Enrollment at the time was over 3,200) A contract with the College’s Professional Association was in negotiation at the time. There was also unhappiness with a decision not to rehire probationary sociology instructor Patrick McGuire or science instructor Forest Gochnour, and not to award tenure to geology associate professor Ronald Janowsky. Students were also asking for a role in faculty evaluation. At their June 13 meeting, the MVCC Trustees unanimously voted confidence in President Robertson. Their resolution indicated “full faith, support and confidence” in President Robertson “as an administrator with the experience, intellectual capacity and administrative ability to meet the challenges confronting the college and to continue its tradition of excellence and service.” The resolution was introduced by Board Chairman Stuart MacMackin.

(June 14, 1978, Utica Daily Press) “MVCC trustees trust Robertson – The Mohawk Valley Community College Board of Trustees gave President George Robertson a unanimous vote of confidence yesterday.
The resolution said the board ‘declares its full faith, support and confidence’ in Robertson ‘as an administrator with the experience, intellectual capacity and administrative ability to meet the challenges confronting the college and to continue its tradition of excellence and service.’
Board Chairman Stuart MacMackin, who introduced the resolution, said after the meeting that it was a reaction to the votes of no-confidence taken by students and faculty last month.
In those votes, the faculty members voted 116 to 20 that they had no confidence in Robertson and Dean of Academic Affairs Robert E. Barde. The students voted 564 to 141 on a similar resolution.
Board member Russel Fielding said that in many colleges there was a cycle of new presidents and dissatisfaction with them after a few years and that the time to break the cycle was right at the beginning.
‘We want to find out the reasons for the dissatisfaction with the administration,’ said MacMackin after the meeting. ‘So far we’ve heard only very general things. There have been no specifics. First we have to find out what it is before we can do anything about it.’ ”

Robert Barde, 1978

(Mar. 12, 1979, Utica Observer-Dispatch) – “Dismissed MVCC Dean: School Lacks Planning – Dr. Robert Barde said today that he thought differences between him and Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) President George Robertson over how the college should be managed, led to his dismissal last week as the school’s dean of academic affairs.
‘Basically, I felt that I should speak to the president on what I felt the situation was, not what he wanted to hear. I felt strongly that his approach to management was wrong and I put that in writing on two occasions,’ Barde said.
Barde said he was not bitter toward the MVCC board of trustees or Robertson.
‘I’m an old enough warrior to know that these things come up in life. I’m not ashamed of anything I did. I have a little reservation about being placed on (terminal) leave for six months. Why that happened I don’t know. It’s sort of a nice gold watch, I guess, but I was given no choice,’ he said.
Barde said his dismissal was part of a bigger problem at the school, one that was decreasing the ‘desire and will’ of people working for Robertson. ‘I feel that there is a deterioration of the situation,’ he said.
Barde said there was a lack of planning and that Robertson was trying to run the college on his own.
‘I guess that’s the difference between Canadian (Robertson was educated in Canada) style of management and the American style,’ he said.
He said the record showed there had been ‘turmoil’ at the school since Robertson’s arrival in 1974 and cited the lack of a contract for the faculty as an example, saying Robertson has vacillated over the length of the contract during negotiations.
Robertson said this morning that he would not comment on the situation until after a scheduled board meeting later today.
‘I am not free to engage in discussions until after the meeting, although I wouldn’t deny that it would certainly settle my stomach to respond,’ he said.
Stuart MacMackin, board chairman, said the board, in executive session, had agreed on Feb. 13 to ask for Barde’s resignation, but that no official action had been taken. MacMakin said that he had met with Barde on at least two occasions and asked him to resign and that terms of his termination were discussed.
Barde said today that he declined to resign because he felt improper procedure had been followed by Robertson.
‘I was then told that I was being let go under a general non-renewal of a permanent appointment and that I was on leave until Aug. 30. That’s the longest leave I’ve ever had in my life,’ the ex-Marine Corps officer, said, laughing.
Sources at the school has said Barde and Robertson had not been on speaking terms in recent months, but Barde said today that was not the case. He said his contact with Robertson had decreased since last September because Robertson moved his (Barde’s) office from one adjacent to the president’s office to one on the other side of the building….”

(SEE “GOVERNANCE,” MAY 1979)




William Boley, Richard Enders 1982

(Feb 10, 1982, Utica Daily Press) – “MVCC hiring criticized again – Mohawk Valley Community College’s (MVCC) hiring practices are once again under attack.
The college’s faculty union charged yesterday that President George Robertson had created a position in the Business Management Department for a friend who had no academic credentials. The friend, William Boley, was hired without going through the college’s standard procedures, said Gerald Scotti, the union’s president, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees.
The trustees approved the hiring last August, but Scotti said he did not hold the trustees responsible because Robertson had kept them in the dark.
Robertson denied all of Scotti’s charges. Calling them ‘an outrageous misstatement.’ However, Personnel Director Thomas Lascell confirmed some of Scotti’s statements, although he defended thee appointment.
Last month, the trustees were criticized after voting not to hire former District Attorney Richard Enders as a full-time teacher.
The charges in the Enders case are in some ways the exact opposite of those in Boley’s. The trustees decided not to hire Enders even though he was chosen through the standard hiring process. The union charges that Boley was hired even though standard procedures were not followed.
Standard procedures, outlined in the college’s affirmative action in the college’s affirmative action policy, include advertising widely for candidates, and having a search committee and college officials interview several candidates before the president selects one to recommend to the trustees. Scotti said none of those steps were taken in Boley’s case. Robertson created a new job in the Business Management Department, which had not requested one, and then unilaterally recommended him to the trustees, Scotti said.
The recommendation was made after a faculty search committee found Boley totally unqualified for a similar position in May, Scotti said.
The other instructors in the department have master’s degrees, while Boley has no degree at all, Scotti said. But he said Boley was hired at $16,500, making him the third highest teacher in the department.
‘The situation is serious,’ Scotti told the trustees. ‘The hiring practices and management of funds are on trial.’
Robertson declined to discuss the case in detail, but said Boley ‘was recruited in compliance with the college’s procedures. In every respect, Mr. Scotti’s statement is false.’ Robertson confirmed that he knew Boley before hiring him.
Lascell, however, confirmed that there was no advertisement or search committee specifically for the position to which Boley was appointed. He said the job was created during the summer when few faculty members were around, after the administration realized that enrollment would be higher than expected.
Rather than advertise, the administration chose an instructor from the candidates that were not hired in May for the similar job. Lascell said he did not remember whether Boley had been rejected by the search committee in May, but said, ‘There is no requirement that the president follow the recommendation of the search committee. The ultimate decision is his and the trustees.’
Lascell said the college has hired people without college degrees in the past: ‘We’re a teaching institution. If someone can bring something worthwhile to the classroom, we want him. In job-related courses, we want to get people with practical experience.’
Boley, a former manager of Howland’s in New Hartford, teaches marketing courses.
Boley’s department head, James DeSantis, declined to discuss the hiring, saying he was away during the summer. He said Boley’s teaching was ‘very satisfactory’ even though he did not have ‘the traditional qualifications.’
The trustees did not discuss Boley’s appointment yesterday. Chairman Eugene Madden said last night, ‘We heard the presentation and we will take it under consideration.’ He declined to comment further.”

(January 14, 1982, Utica Observer-Dispatch, Craig Brandon) – “Enders’ Defeat Also a Defeat For Robertson – The Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) Trustees’ rejection of Richard Enders for a faculty position was he result of a bipartisan coalition of enemies whom Enders collected during his 10 years as district attorney.
But at the college, the rejection led to a power struggle between President George Robertson’s administration and a faction of the board of trustees led by Angela Elefante, daughter of Democratic leader Rufus P. Elefante.
That is the picture that emerged from conversations with a number of MVCC administrators and faculty members, all of whom asked not to be named because they said they feared for their jobs.
Enders’ defeat was also a defeat for Robertson, the sources said. They said it puts Robertson in a very weak position and may mean that he won’t be president for much longer.
‘He lost the support of the faculty long ago,’ said a faculty member. ‘Now he has lost the support of the trustees. He’s just five votes away from losing his job.’ …
The dispute took place at an executive session during an MCC trustees’ meeting last month and was renewed on Tuesday. Those who attended the meetings would not talk for the record because the meetings were officially closed. College officials, however, gave these details after being assured their identities would be kept confidential.
Elefante told the other trustees that Enders would not be approved under any condition. She then proposed another candidate, John Donato, a former Utica policeman who once taught in the criminal justice program at MVCC.
MVCC administrators, who supported Enders, said Donato could not be considered because his application was received a day late.
Elefante countered by saying the letter was received late because it was lost in the mail by the Postal Service. A Postal Service stamp on the letter backed up her claim, according to a source who saw the letter.
A dispute then broke out between Elefante on one side and Robertson, Vice President for Instruction John Cavan and Trustee Elizabeth Hubbard on the other.
Elefante then called for an investigation of the criminal justice program, and later sent a four-page memo to Cavan saying that there were too many lawyers in the department and not enough policemen.
Eugene Madden, chairman of the board, said today he could not comment on the meeting but he said he would not deny any of the points in the above account.
In the month between the December and January meetings ‘every kind of pressure imaginable’ was brought against the trustees to drop Enders appointment, an MVCC administrator said.
This pressure, the administrator said, was not just from Elefante and the Democrats, but from Republicans and a group of Oneida County lawyers as well. What they all had in common, the source said, were grievances against Enders for acts he took as district attorney, an office he held for 10 years.
Democrats, the MVCC official said, were angry with Enders for, among other things, indicting Rocco F. DePerno, president of the Teamsters local 182 and a friend of Rufus Elefante’s.
Republicans, the source said, were angry with Enders for his indictment of former Assemblyman Nicholas Calogero.
The lawyers, the source added, were a group who had crossed swords with Enders in the courtroom and failed to win favors from him.
By Tuesday’s meeting support for Enders had dwindled until only Hubbard backed he administrators in supporting Enders.
Robertson, however, refused to withdraw his recommendation of Enders and Angela Elefante apparently did not have the votes to appoint Donato.
Robertson held a press conference today reaffirming his support for Enders.
The post was never created and therefore was not filled. The classes will be taught, as they were in the past, by adjunct faculty, he said.
Thomas Blanchfield, the chairman of the department who resigned that post yesterday to protest the trustees action, said there was still a need for the job.
MVCC officials said the dispute between the administration and the trustees is probably the first in the college’s history. In the past, the trustees have approved all the appointments recommended by the president. …
Madden said the trustees’ new-found independence was the result of a number of new members of the board appointed in the past year by both Gov. Carey and County Executive Sherwood Boehlert. …
In Enders’s case, as in other appointments, the appointment had already been made ‘subject to approval by the board of trustees.’ Robertson said today Enders received two letters from Cavan’s office, he added. One, sent before the December meeting, said he had been appointed ‘subject to approval and the second telling him that the appointment was null and void because the trustees had not approved it.
The exercise of power by the trustees, MVCC administrators said, meant that any administrator, including Robertson, could be dismissed at any time if five of the nine trustees decided to do so.
Robertson is standing firm in backing Enders, despite the will of the trustees.
‘There are a lot of worried administrators over here,’ said one college official.
Faculty members, who have more job security because they are covered by a contract, said they were concerned that a board subject to outside political pressures would make it more difficult when it came to promotions or tenure.
‘We don’t want to have to go over to the Pancake House every time we want a promotion,’ was how one faculty leader put it, referring to Rufus Elefante’s former headquarters at Uncle Henry’s Pancake House.
Madden, when told of these concerns, downplayed them as overreaction.
‘I was never called by anybody about this,’ he said. He said he had no way of knowing if other trustees had been contacted.
Other trustees declined to comment, saying they had agreed, at Madden’s request, not to discuss the matter.
Madden admitted today that he and the other trustees had tried to keep the entire matter from becoming public and that at the end of the trustees meeting he had asked them not to talk about it. ….” (NOTE: Enders had retired from the District Attorney’s position on December 31st. The MVCC job would have paid $17,000. Robertson maintained the decision was due to political pressure. Trustee Madden said: 1) The resolution presented by the college administration was two pronged, It would have created the position and appointed Enders to fill it at the same time. This, he said, gave the impression the position was being created expressly for Enders. 2) The resolution was retroactive, which tended to reinforce the impression widely held at the college that the board is a ‘rubber stamp’ for the administration. 3) There was a question, he said, about whether the college needed a full-time lawyer in the criminal justice department and that another instructor who was not a lawyer could have been appointed for $3,000 to $4,000 less. 4) Madden said he questions how Enders could maintain a full-time law practice in Boonville while he was a full-time instructor at the college.) (Enders had taught art-time at the college for 12 years. At the time of this controversy, his teaching load was reduced from four courses to three.) (Many more articles, editorials and letters to the editor in the clipping files. Also see “Graduations, 1982”)

Reorganization, 1985

Observer-Dispatch, Feb 13, 1985) “MVCC may cut 4 deans – Mohawk Valley Community College will eliminate deans, department heads or a combination of the two within the next few months to cut costs, its board chairman said yesterday.
Board Chairman David Mathis said the college probably will choose to eliminate its four academic deans. But President Michael Schafer said he leans toward a plan that would cut the number of department heads from 19 to about 10.
The MVCC board formally authorized Schafer yesterday to go ahead with preparation of a plan, which Mathis and Schafer said would save the college at least $200,000 a year.
Those affected by the cuts would be offered a choice of returning to teaching, probably at reduced salaries, or accepting an early retirement option, Mathis said. The early retirement plan was approved by the board yesterday.
Some jobs could simply be eliminated, Mathis said….
If the deanships are eliminated, four people would be affected, three of them with a total of nearly 70 years experience at MVCC.
The positions are held by John T. Dizer, dean of technology and business; Beverly A. Warner, public health and service; Frank Jackson, humanities and communications; and Alice Griffith, library director.
Dizer has been with MVCC for 26 years. He has been dean of technology for the past three years.
Warner, a faculty member for 16 years, was appointed dean in1975. Jackson, 49, has been with MVCC six years and has been dean for four. Griffith has been with the college since the 1950s.
Jackson refused comment on yesterday’s action, but both Dizer and Warner expressed concern about the proposal.
‘I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to be forced into retirement,’ said Dizer, 64. ‘I’m concerned and I think we all are if you have a major reorganization and eliminate a great many department heads and administrators with years of experience, dedication and stability.’
Warner said she was unhappy but not surprised by the board’s action.
‘I think it will be a mistake because I believe that the size of the college needs divisional structure. I think communication is going to break down.’
Warner, 63, said she is uncertain whether she would accept early retirement.
‘The options are not the greatest, but I feel very strongly that I don’t want to bump other faculty, either.’ Schafer initiated a reorganization at the administrative level last year and most of the top administrators at the college have been there less than two years. The source said Schafer proposed reorganization of deans and departments at the same time, but the plan was opposed.
Also early last year, a study or several community colleges showed that MVCC’s administrative makeup was nearly identical to colleges of similar size and curriculum, the source said. That report was presented to Schafer for relay to trustees, but the source said Schafer sat on the report for nearly a year before presenting it to the trustees.
Schafer said he held the report for ‘internal discussion’ until the appointment of Thomas Brown as vice president of instruction last July. He said it would be Brown’s responsibility to make the actual recommendations and he didn’t want to ‘push’ Brown into making a decision….
Mathis defended the cutbacks as a necessary evil, saying he believes the college must be prepared for declining enrollment, expensive state-mandated programs and cutbacks in funding.
‘We don’t want to turn people away who have made a large contribution to the college, but we also have to keep the college fiscally sound.’ ”

Dorothy Webster, 1985, 1991-92

(Utica Daily Press, April 10, 1985) – “MVCC facing contempt of court action in sex discrimination case – Mohawk Valley Community College is more than two months late in answering questions in a $1 million sex discrimination suit and could be found in contempt of court, said a Syracuse attorney representing the assistant professor who has filed the suit.
Feminist activist attorney Karen DeCrow says she plans to take immediate action to file for a contempt order against the college in behalf of her client, Dorothy Webster….
The suit was filed in April 1983 by Webster, an MVCC assistant professor in office technology who claims she was removed as a department head because of her insistence that male colleagues were better paid.
DeCrow says she believes the action is the first sex-discrimination case where the plaintiff has sought a large amount of money, rather than just back pay or restoration….
Webster alleges she was removed as director of the Department of Secretarial Science on Oct. 10, 1980, after five years in the position, because of her attempts to enforce anti-discrimination statues and her failure to ‘get along’ with male faculty members.
She alleges she was underpaid by $5,000 one year compared with male department heads, and another year by $4,000.
Webster says she currently is assigned to teaching typing courses in stead of thw word-processing courses for which she wrote the program and acquired equipment through several grants.
However, Marjorie Loveland, Webster’s department head, said the assignment of Webster to typing courses this semester is simply a matter of scheduling and that she did teach word-processing courses last semester.
Meanwhile, Webster has gained the backing of two women’s organizations – the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Women’s Equity Action League – both of whom have endorsed her suit.
She is scheduled to speak at the AAUW’s national convention in June in Columbus, Ohio, on her experiences with sex discrimination.”

(Sept 21, 1991, Observer-Dispatch) – “Sex discrimination trial begins Monday – A $2 million sexual discrimination suit against Mohawk Valley Community College is slated for trial Monday after an eight-year delay.
A pre-trial conference starts at 10:30 a.m. before Judge David N. Hurd in U.S. District Court in Utica, court officials said.
The lawsuit was filed in April 1983 by MVCC Assistant Professor Dorothy S. Webster. She claims she was removed as a department head because of her insistence that male colleagues were better paid and because of her attempts to enforce anti-discrimination statutes.
Webster, who continues at the college as a professor of office technology, was removed as director of the Department of Secretarial Science Oct. 10, 1980, after five years in the job.
The suit seeks $1 million for denial of Webster’s civil rights that prohibit discrimination based on sex. It also seeks another $1 million in punitive damages and a minimum for back pay of $55,900 plus interest.
Webster’s lawyer, feminist activist Karen DeCrow of Syracuse, said she blames the delay in the trial on the many motions lawyers for MVCC filed to dismiss the case.
She said a crowded court docket also may have contributed to the delay slightly. About 600 cases preceded Webster’s, according to court officials.
… MVCC officials referred comment to Bartle Gorman of Utica, the college’s lawyer in the case….”

(April 5, 1992, Observer-Dispatch) – “MVCC prof wins suit against college – Mohawk Valley Community College professor Dorothy Webster was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, U.S. District Court Judge David N. Hurd has ruled.
Although Hurd dismissed her claims for back pay – she sought a minimum of $55,900 plus interest – he did grant $8,000 in compensatory damages and attorney’s fees and expenses. Webster says they amount to about $90,000.
Her suit had sought $1 million for denial of her civil rights and $1 million in punitive damages.
Webster claimed she was removed as a department head because of her insistence that male colleagues were better paid and because of her attempts to enforce anti-discrimination statutes between Jan. 21, 1981 and Jan. 10, 1986.
Webster, who continues at the college as an office technology professor, filed a sexual discrimination complaint in April 1983. The five-day trial was held last September without a jury in U.S. District Court in Utica.
‘Finally, after all these years, the court verified what I’ve been saying,’ said Webster. She said she would appeal the sections of her suit that were dismissed.
MVCC President Michael Schafer said last night he has not received the court papers and could not comment.
In his April 3 ruling, Hurd said, ‘The Court is satisfied that the plaintiff (Webster) has adequately shown that the activities found to have been done in retaliation for having filed a complaint with the SDHR disadvantaged her.’
Webster was removed from the grants and computer user committees and was given more scrutiny than other teachers, Webster’s lawyer Karen DeCrow said during the trial.
MVCC officials argued that she was removed from the committees because she was no longer the department head.
‘The explanation is of questionable validity since the plaintiff was clearly the best suited individual from the Office Technology Department for the position on the Committee, since she had been the department head for five years and was the only one familiar with computers in that department,’ wrote Hurd.”

(April 6, 1992, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Retaliation costs MVCC $100,000- Officials of Mohawk Valley Community College were tight-lipped this morning following a federal judge’s ruling that MVCC had retaliated against a tenured professor after she filed a sex-discrimination complaint against the school. Unless appealed, the case will cost the college nearly $100,000 in payments to the professor and her attorney besides costs for the college attorney.
Eugene Fiorentino, executive assistant to MVCC President Michael Schafer, and Anthony J. Garramone, chairman of the MVCC Board of Trustees, declined to comment on the ruling until after they had received a copy of the decision.
Garramone said the board would have to confer with its legal counsel, Bartle Gorman, before deciding whether to appeal. Gorman said today he had not read the decision and could not comment.
Gorman, Garramone said, may be prepared to discuss this with the board at its next meeting, Thursday at the Rome campus of MVCC….
‘If we do, we will talk to him in closed session,’ Garramone said, adding that any decision will be announced to the public.
Dorothy S. Webster charged in a complaint filed in 1981 with the state Division of Human Rights that MVCC refused to make her permanent head of the Office Technology Department because she is a woman. She was named to head the department in 1975, then replaced in 1980.
After she filed the complaint, there was ‘a terrific backlash’ from college administrators, she said.
She filed the lawsuit in 1983, after the state found no basis for her complaint.
‘The court finds the actions of both the interim and permanent department heads during the time in question far less than professional,’ wrote U.S. District Judge David Hurd of Utica in Friday’s ruling.
According to Garramone, who is a Utica City Court judge, Hurd dismissed Miss Webster’s charge that the college discriminated against her in terms of her pay. She has indicated that she will appeal that dismissal.
Miss Webster succeeded in her claim the college had retaliated against her for filing a sex-discrimination suit.
Hurd scolded the college for removing Miss Webster from an advisory committee and harassing her with repeated evaluations by administrators.
‘Class evaluations have a legitimate purpose. However … it was a retaliatory measure,’ Hurd wrote. ‘The evaluations … were unnecessary, harassing and contrary to Mohawk Valley Community College’s policy to conduct only annual evaluations of its professors.’
Before 1981, the Utica college had not evaluated Professor Webster, who taught at colleges in Rhode Island and Herkimer County before receiving tenure at Mohawk Valley in 1980.
Miss Webster’s attorney, Karen DeCrow of Syracuse, said she was pleased with the ruling.
‘It’s very rare that a professor sues a college for sex discrimination and wins. Hardly anyone wins a case against a university,’ said DeCrow, former president of the National Organization of Women.
‘Many people hesitate to file sex discrimination complaints because they worry employers will discriminate against them and in fact, they (the college) did,’ she said.
The judge also ruled Professor Webster can recover $8,000 in compensatory damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs associated with her retaliation claims, Miss Webster said. She said those fees and costs totaled $90,000…. Miss Webster remains on the faculty at Mohawk Valley….”

(June 20, 1992, Observer-Dispatch INACCURATE HEADLINE) – “Woman wins $10,000 more in case vs. MVCC – A federal judge yesterday ordered Mohawk Valley Community College to pay about $10,000 worth of attorney’s fees to a professor who won a sexual discrimination lawsuit against the college.
The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge David N. Hurd significantly reduces the $81,655.65 sought by MVCC professor Dorothy S. Webster for attorney’s fees and expenses from April 22, 1983 through May 7, 1992.
‘I wish she had gotten more,’ said Webster’s lawyer, Karen DeCrow of Jamesville. ‘She deserved more. But it’s not the money; it’s the incredible history-making (in the sex discrimination decision). She is really a hero for women.’
MVCC President Michael I. Schafer said college officials are pleased the case is apparently over and have decided not to appeal Hurd’s ruling. The college’s insurance will cover the payment to Webster, he said.
‘(Hurd’s) judgement was very generous… I wish it weren’t,’ Schafer said. I’m rally pleased that it is apparently coming to a close.’…
The judge ruled yesterday that Webster’s award for attorney’s fees and expenses would be $9,898.31, because Webster won less than 20 per cent of her claim. The amount was computed on the number of hours the judge thought lawyers spent on the part of the case Webster won.
Reached at her Utica home yesterday, Webster said she was disappointed the award was so low, but that does not diminish the victory in winning the retaliation suit.
‘No one has ever won against MVCC,’ she said. ‘That is very significant.’ ”


Association of Mohawk Valley Administrators, 1985

(April 16, 1985, Utica Daily Press) – “MVCC administrators may organize union- talk prompted by reorganization plan proposal – Some Mohawk Valley Community College administrators will meet tomorrow to discuss organizing a union, according to college employees.
The employees said the move stems from unhappiness with a reorganization plan proposed by MVCC President Michael Schafer that eliminates all four deanships and several department head positions.
Yesterday, Schafer said that he has moved up a board of trustees work session on the plan from mid-summer to early May, in hopes of getting a vote on the plan as early as May 14.
However, board opposition in early approval of the plan mounted yesterday.
Sources within MVCC said three different unions are expected to make presentations tomorrow afternoon at an East Utica restaurant (Ed. Note: “Ventura’s”) to as many as 43 administrators, most of them from the instructional side of the college. The sources said they did not want their names used for fear of reprisals.
The movement stated among the instructional administrators, several os whose jobs are threatened by the reorganization plan.
MVCC’s full-time faculty members already belong to the MVCC Professional Association. Association President Gerald Scotti said part-time faculty members at the college also are in the process of unionizing…..”

Elefante/Wellman, 1986

(January 12, 1986, Observer-Dispatch) “Elefante charges libel in claim against county – Utica Democratic political leader Rufus P. Elefante has taken the first step toward filing a libel lawsuit against Oneida County and Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), based on a written test given last fall by an MVCC professor.
Last month, Elefante had a notice of claim served on the county and college officials. That is the first step in filing a lawsuit.
Elefante’s attorney, Antonio Faga, said that he expects to file the actual lawsuit soon, probably in a few weeks.
The brief, two-page notice of claim only generally suggests the basis for Elefante’s action.
The details would be spelled out later in the actual lawsuit, Faga said.
Faga acknowledged that the action is based on a multiple-choice test administered by John Wellman, who is an assistant professor in the college’s Social Science and Criminal Justice Department.
In at least one question on that test, Elefante’s name was listed as one of the possible answers, Faga acknowledged.
Faga said he believes the problem is not with one test question, but with the entire test, which he said he believes in ‘libel by innuendo.’ He declined to release a copy of the test, saying that action would only further publicize the statements to which they object.
Faga said some people thought Elefante would be willing to ‘let this slide,’ because of his connections to MVCC, but Elefante felt strongly about pursuing the possible lawsuit. Elefante’s daughter, Dr. Angela Elefante, has been a trustee on the MVCC board since May 1981.
The case is being handled for MVCC by the county attorney’s department, as it does in other instances since the county partially funds the college, County Attorney William Calli said.
Calli said the county has received the notice. At this point, it plans no response, pending the filing of an actual lawsuit, he said.
As a practical matter, the county doesn’t begin preparing a rebuttal based on just a notice of claim since all these notices don’t actually result in lawsuits, said Assistant County Attorney Lawrence Sardelli, who is handling this case for the county and MVCC.
Elefante’s notice of claim says that ‘on or about the 2nd day of October, 1985, at Mohawk Valley Community College on Sherman Drive, Utica, New York, one John Wellman, acting individually and in the course of his employment, did publish certain libelous and slanderous information related to the claimant (Elefante) herein.’
Libel would be a written defamation of character and slander an oral defamation, Faga said. The notice preserves Elefante’s right to sue for ‘libel and/or slander,’ and to seek damages. The amount of any damages sought by Elefante was not specified in the notice.
Faga said the libel would be based on the written test and if any slander occurred, that it would be based on discussion of the test….”

(July 13, 1985, Rome Daily Sentinel) – Two deans at MVCC to retire – Two of three Mohawk Valley Community College academic deans, whose positions were eliminated as the result of a staff reorganization plan, will retire at the end of the 1985-86 academic year. The Board of Trustees accepted those retirements Tuesday afternoon.
Dr. Beverly A. Warner, dean of the Public and Health Services Division, and Dr. John T. Dizer, Jr., dean of the Technology and Business Division, said they would opt for an early retirement incentive program….
Frank M. Jackson, dean of the Humanities and Communications Division, was appointed Tuesday as head of the Learning Services Department for a two-year probationary period.
Dizer said early retirement was his only viable option. He said that he would incur a 10 percent cut in salary if he accepted a position as instructor at MVCC. He said the college trustees recently defeated a resolution that would permit deans to retain their wages while serving the college in another capacity.
‘I simply couldn’t afford to take the cut,’ Dizer said.
Dizer said the deans were told that their tenure as division heads would not apply to the newly created department head positions. According to the reorganizational plan adopted in May by the Board of Trustees, 16 departments would be consolidated into nine.
‘Both Beverly and I have tenure as department heads, but the administration said the departments no loner existed,’ said Dizer.
Dizer claimed that the administration used the job titles to remove both himself and Mrs. Warner from their posts.
‘You can call it what you want, but we were forced out as department heads,’ said Dizer.
Dizer said early retirement was his only economical option. He said accepting a teaching position at the lesser salary would decrease his retirement benefits, because these are based on the wages received during the three years prior to retirement. …”

(Dec 4, 1985, Utica Daily Press) – “Administrators’ union certified at MVCC – contract talks sought with Board of Trustees – A union to represent some administrators at Mohawk Valley Community College has been certified by the Public Employee Relations Board and contract negotiations could begin this week.
The Association of Mohawk Valley Community College Administrators will represent 31 members of the administration, said Dr. Frank M. Jackson, president. Jackson is the head of the Learning Achievement Resources Department. …In May, administrators were upset by the reorganization of some administration positions, (Trustee David) Mathis said. Three administration jobs were eliminated by the board. Two of the administrators retired, but the third, Jackson, chose to stay on as a department head. ….”

(SEE SUNYIT)


Rome Campus, 1986

(ALSO SEE ROME CAMPUS SECTION)

(March 9, 1986, Utica Newspapers, pro and con guest editorials) – “Should MVCC upgrade and expand its Rome branch campus?

College president says ‘yes’ by Dr. Michael I. Schafer
Mohawk Valley Community College, in its 40th year, remains committed to excellence in everything we do. However, no matter how committed students, faculty and staff are, they cannot be expected to maintain excellence in facilities that are antiquated, inappropriate for classes and laboratories, and marginally within standards for safety and accessibility. Unfortunately, this is the current situation at MVCC’s Rome campus.
The point must be made that we have not proposed a ‘new’campus. We propose neither a major expansion of the existing Rome Branch campus nor a change in priorities for the college. This semester nearly 1,500 students are attending the Rome campus. Enrollment has increased more than 10 percent in each of the last several years. That makes the current Rome campus enrollment about equal to the total enrollment at several other community colleges.
Unfortunately, the facilities that now exist in Rome do not provide a suitable educational environment. Facilities consist of two buildings left over from the former County Hospital, and a wooden barn that housed cows when the hospital ran a farm to feed patients. The barn now houses laboratories and classrooms for welding, carpentry and the building trades. We simply have no other place to put them. What is proposed is the modification and renovation of the two existing buildings and the construction of an Applied Technologies Center. The concept of this new building is to have advanced, flexible laboratories with state of the art equipment. They would be used for Certificate and Associate degree programs, continuing education programs serving Griffiss Air Force Base and its component commands, as well as seminar and workshop facilities needed to meet business and industrial needs. Additionally, the center could be used for advanced technology training and continuing education in engineering in cooperating with other institutions of higher education. The total cost of all building revisions including the new center would be approximately $8.5 million.
The existing brick buildings are of typical hospital design with central corridors and small rooms on either side. The only modifications we can make result in long, narrow spaces ill suited to either lecture or discussion. Laboratories are make-do affairs lacking proper utility service, ventilation and lighting. Even if funds were available, we would be foolish to recommend the major investment needed to make these few rooms adequate. A ‘band-aid’ approach cannot make a proper educational facility out of a hospital.
An often-asked question is, ‘Why can’t these students take classes at the Utica campus?’ First, it is unlikely that we would be able to convince those now enrolled at Rome to attend classes in Utica (90 percent live in Rome and western Oneida County). In any event, we do not have the space for them on the main campus. Operations in Utica are so crowded that we currently use four ‘temporary’ classrooms and operate a technical center in rented space. Our architects tell us that the cost of constructing equivalent space new in Utica would be at least twice the cost of modifying the existing structures in Rome.
Educationally, Rome reflects the community it serves. At present there are eight programs which can be completed in their entirety at Rome. We know there is an unfilled need for engineering science programs, but we simply do not have the facilities to offer the programs in Rome. These programs would prepare students for a host of engineering technologies which would match the job opportunities at Rome Air development Center and elsewhere in western Oneida County. Another needed area for curriculum development at the Rome campus is in the Electrical Engineering Technologies. These programs would prepare students to enter careers as technicians in a variety of specialized electronics fields. Students could elect to either seek employment upon graduation or transfer to a four year institution to complete their Bachelor’s degree. Again, no suitable labs exist for this or related programs.
Oneida County provides excellent support for MVCC. With a major investment in equipment this year, the county has allowed us to remain at the forefront of technical education, but our facilities in Rome are substandard.
We should emphasize that students who attend the current Rome Branch campus pay the same tuition as students attending the Utica campus. State aid is also paid at the same rate for students attending the Rome campus. In fact, revenues from these two sources along will bring in over $600,000 more this year than it costs to operate the campus. That excess now contributes to the overhead of the Utica campus. The proposed campus upgrade will be more energy efficient and easier to maintain. No new staff are anticipated so that operating costs should not increase.
The question, therefore, is not whether we can afford to upgrade the existing branch campus in Rome. The question is can we afford not to provide suitable teaching facilities at a site already meeting a vital educational need. In large measure the future of this county, including Utica, Rome, the townships and Griffiss Air Force Base depends on the availability of an educated work force. It is a mission of this college to provide that work force. The students are here and eager to learn. The faculty is here and eager to teach. We must provide both with the facilities necessary to continue a tradition of excellence at Mohawk Valley Community College.”

College professor says ‘no’ by Lawrence A. Trivieri
For the last several months, much attention has been focused on the proposed plans for upgrading the Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) Rome Campus. It also appears that much arm twisting has been going on in an attempt to convince the Oneida County Board of Legislators that such an upgrade is vitally needed.
County Executive John D. Plumley is anxious to have the bonding vote as soon as possible and has indicated that ‘bond counselors are currently working on the resolution.’ Why the anxiety? Why the upgrade? Does the need really exist? Can Oneida County taxpayers really afford it?
During a public forum relative to the county budget that was conducted in the County Legislative Chambers on October 29, 1985, I did address the Oneida County Board of Legislators and expressed my concern relative to the Rome Campus proposal. My concern was for proper funding for both campuses. This concern was, and still is, based upon the county’s lack of adequate support for MVCC during most of the almost 18 yeas that I have been a member of its faculty.
We have, however, seen a more positive attitude and more funding during the last two-three years. But, will this continue when we consider the possible demise of federal revenue sharing, the County’s current bonding indebtedness, the high and rising costs of social service functions, the possible replacement of the Broadacres nursing facilities and the several other major problems facing the county?
It is my opinion that the main campus of MVCC was never completed. For more than ten years, we rented four ‘temporary’ classroom buildings at considerable costs. The college is renting, at considerable costs, most of the lower level at Plaza East on Mohawk Street in Utica. These rentals have resulted from lack of adequate building programs on the main campus. For at least ten years, much discussion has centered on the need for an additional (technology) building. Such a building is now being proposed for the Rome Campus.
In an article in the Observer-Dispatch of February 20, 1986, Mr. Plumley was reported as saying that ‘the Utica technology center was delayed by unrelated factors, especially disagreements between the MVCC trustees and (College President Michael) Schafer’s predecessor, George Robertson.’ This statement is probably partially true. But, I must remind Mr. Plumley that one of his predecessors, Mr. William Bryant, because of his obsession with not increasing taxes for Oneida County taxpayers, held MVCC’s contributions to a constant dollar amount for several years of his administration, in spite of double digit inflation. Will history repeat itself with Mr. Plumley’s eventual successor?
Recently, MVCC President Michael I. Schafer mailed a list of questions and answers about the proposed ‘Rome Campus upgrade’ to several people in the community. Based upon the numerous requests for comments that I have received from some of these ‘interested community leaders,’ it would appear that copies were mailed to hundreds of individuals. It would further appear that this mailing has caused more questions to be asked and more concern expressed.
Several times, reference has been made to the ‘feasibility report’ submitted by the Stetson-Dale Engineering firm in Utica. Having studied this report very carefully, I fail to see how it could be called a feasibility study. It is basically an architectural/engineering report showing that the existing facilities can be upgraded as envisioned by the college administration. Where is the feasibility report demonstrating the need for such a campus in the Rome area? Where is the feasibility report indicating that the Griffiss Air Force Base personnel are not having their two-year college educational needs met?
In my role as an Army Reserve colonel (now retired), I never once heard a senior officer at the base indicate that such a need existed. I did, however, hear comments about the lack of adequate upper level undergraduate and also graduate courses, both areas of which are not within the domain of MVCC’s offerings.
Further, the MVCC Planning Advisory Committee, ably chaired by Mr. James B. Stewart of Sears, Roebuck & Co., in Sangertown, recommended the following in their report of January, 1985: ‘The future development of the MVCC branch campus in Rome must be carefully monitored and evaluated. A duplication of expensive facilities and programs, further duplicating available operating and capital funds, should be avoided. Two ‘good’ campuses are not necessarily satisfactory substitutions for an ‘excellent’ college.
Although attempts have been made to downplay the recommendations of the committee, it is interesting to note that President Schafer enthusiastically endorsed the merits of the report.
It seems to me that if a need really exists for an additional MVCC campus, the money proposed for an upgrade should be used to build a new campus, say in Camden or Boonville, to serve an additional number of students from the northwestern part of Oneida County. It becomes more apparent to me that the only reason for proceeding with the upgrade of the Rome Campus is political. The two most common comments that I have heard during the last couple of years are that ‘the Rome Foundation wants it’ and ‘the County Executive wants it.’ Why?
I would also like to remind our legislators and other ‘interested community leaders’ that the governor’s budget recommendations do not cause rejoicing for community colleges, in general, and MVCC, in particular. He has included $400,000 in his proposed state budget as half the cost of the $800,000 needed for detailed planning and architectural drawings for the Rome expansion. However, there is $100,000 less money proposed for the main campus. The total cost of the expansion, now estimated between 8.5 and 11 million dollars, excludes costs for bonding. And will it stop there? Already, comments are being made about Phase 2 for a total cost well in excess of 15 million dollars.
Only two years ago, when the governor proposed his state budget, the college administration reacted so adversely that 43 administrators (including academic department heads) received their termination notices (which were subsequently rescinded). Also, the local media carried several reports attributed to President Schafer relative to the possible termination of the very expensive curricula such as the technology programs.
If we have difficulty supporting these programs on one campus, can we really justify duplicating them in Rome? How can we honestly call for ‘advanced laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment’ for the Rome Campus when we have had major difficulties obtaining sufficient equipment for the main campus? In an unprecedented move, the county is now bonding for equipment for MVCC over a three-year period only because equipment monies have been deleted from previous annual operating budgets.
It is also interesting to note that one of the MVCC trustees, from the Rome area, who is actively supporting the Rome expansion now, stated during a regular meeting of the trustees only a year or so ago that maybe the faculty and staff should turn back a recently negotiated pay increase in order for the college to live within its funding means. Why? Of course, we were experiencing budget problems! It is really sad that we forget our history lessons so quickly.
We already have an Oneida County community college which was built in Utica instead of elsewhere in the county. During these periods of declining enrollments and tight budgets, we should really concentrate our resources on completing the Utica campus and rededicating ourselves to our ‘forty years of excellence.’
I respectfully urge our county legislators to vote ‘no’ on the MVCC Rome Campus upgrade. For once, let’s make a decision based on facts and logic. Put aside your partisan and vested interests and cast your votes in the best interests of all the people of Oneida County.”

(ALSO SEE “MILLENNIUM PROJECT”)

Student Brawl, 1993

(Feb 15, 1993, Observer-Dispatch) – 13 MVCC students suspended – Thirteen students have received temporary suspensions as college officials continue to sort out those responsible for a cafeteria brawl at Mohawk Valley Community College Monday.
College President Michael I. Schafer cut short a Florida trip to respond to concerns and questions during a meeting of Student Congress yesterday. Schafer assured the students that violence would not be tolerated.
‘Students (involved in the brawl) will be reprimanded, suspended or permanently dismissed,’ after investigations are complete, Schafer said. ‘We’re not going to put up with violence on this campus. If students aren’t getting along we want to deal with that.’
Schafer said any students who break the law would be prosecuted. He said one of the suspects was arrested yesterday when he would not accept the college’s disciplinary action. More students may be disciplined as the investigation continues, Schafer said.
Campus security has been doubled this week, bolstered by off-duty Utica police officers, after two students were injured in a series of fights between two groups of students. Students who observed the fighting have said friction between upstate and downstate students led to problems.
‘The students involved appear to be either from Utica on one side of the fight and not from Utica on the other side,’ Schafer said. …”

(Feb 21, 1993, Observer-Dispatch) – “Rival MVCC students try to settle problems – Two rival groups of Mohawk Valley Community College students involved in last Monday’s brawl in the college cafeteria met again later in the week, but this time it was to try and resolve problems.
Monday’s confrontation ended with chairs hurled across the cafeteria and one student receiving stitches for a cut on his forehead.
Witnesses said there were as many as 15 to 20 students in each group exchanging words or involved in the brawl. Thirteen students received temporary suspensions Wednesday, college President Michael I. Schafer said.
But Friday’s 2 ½ hour meeting in the College Center was quieter and more positive, students say. About two dozen students – half area students and half students from the New York City area – attended the meeting.
Damon Battle, 19, a full-time student from New York City, is on probation because of Monday’s incident, but he attended the meeting.
‘We feel the meeting went good and that the problem was resolved,’ Battle said.
Battle said the origin of the conflict is simply geographical.
‘We want to start having events so the students from the two groups can get to know each other and get along,’ Battle said.
Battle said some of the ideas that were brought up were basketball games, weightlifting, comedy shows, and a dinner and dance.
The students involved in last Monday’s brawl have appointments with the college president early this week to find out if they will be expelled, Battle said. ‘We can’t make any plans until we find out what happens then.’ ”

(Feb 26, 1993, Observer-Dispatch) – “Students disciplined for melee at MVCC- Fight: a dispute between rival groups escalated into a chair-throwing melee – Seven Mohawk Valley Community College students have been expelled and a non-student permanently banned from the campus for their part in a fight Feb. 15 at the Utica school.
Eight other students also were disciplined because of the incidents, MVCC President Michael Schafer said, and criminal charges will be filed against seven of the person accused of violence or destruction of property.
A dispute between two rival groups, made up of local students and students from the New York City area, escalated into a chair-throwing melee in the school cafeteria that left one student with a cut in his forehead.
Witnesses said there were up to 20 students from each faction involved. Thirteen students were given temporary suspensions while a college administrative panel headed by Schafer investigated the incident.
Representatives of the two groups met for more than two hours last Friday to air their grievances, which they said are based on geographical origins. Participants said events have been planned to bring the groups together.
The penalties handed down by the college after interviews with students involved in the fight:
Six students expelled for between one and three semesters.
One student permanently expelled.
One student placed on probation as long as registered at MVCC.
Six students were given letters of warning and counsel.
One non-student banned.
The students may appeal the sanctions…. Suspended and expelled students will be allowed on campus only for appeal proceedings and only with MVCC security staff….”

Student Voice, 1992

(April 29, 1992, Observer-Dispatch) – “MVCC paper shut down by student government – Mohawk Valley Community College has lost its ‘Voice,’ the college newspaper.
Student Congress President Jennifer Clarke-Weiler said yesterday she shut down the newspaper office yesterday and ordered an audit of its financial records.
‘If there is no money left, the Voice is shut down for the semester,’ she said. ‘We cannot allow any office to run in the red.’
Voice Editor Kory Aversa accused Clarke-Weiler of terminating the newspaper to prevent him from publishing articles critical of the Congress, which controls funding for most student organizations, including the Voice.
The newspaper has accused the Congress of not adequately representing the entire student body.
Aversa said Clarke-Weiler also was angry because Voice staffers supported Monday’s student initiative to rewrite the student constitution and disband the Student Congress, and because staffers circulated petitions to impeach vice president-elect Frederick Hughes.
Clarke-Weiler disputed those reasons. ‘This is a financial issue,’ Clarke-Weiler said. ‘It is not a First Amendment (freedom of the press) issue. If it was a First Amendment issue, it would have been done last semester.’
Aversa said when he arrived at the newspaper office yesterday afternoon, Clarke-Weiler was waiting for him with a uniformed college security officer.
‘She told me, ‘Get out now .. immediately,’ he said. He and sports editor Sean Brigham said she searched the, to make sure they were not taking newspaper notes or other property with them.
‘Clarke-Weiler said, ‘I requested one security officer to attend to assure my safety because the editor of the Voice (Aversa) has been known to become quite excitable.’
She said she would not allow anything to be removed from the office because some financial records disappeared Monday, which may slow the audit.
She said there is approximately $1,200 left in the newspaper budget, not enough to pay its bills for the last three issues or a final issue.
Aversa said if finances were Clarke-Weiler’s actual concern ‘we had worse money problems earlier’ when the newspaper when from a monthly to a biweekly publication. He said the audit could make it impossible to put out another issue this semester.
MVCC President Michael Schafer said Clarke-Weiler acted properly under Student Congress bylaws. He said he will leave it to the students ‘to put their house in order.’
Aversa said, ‘If we have to sell flowers, we’ll publish.’ ”

(May 9, 1992, Observer-Dispatch) – “ ‘Forbidden Voice’ heard – Closed-down newspaper reappears at MVCC – The Mohawk Valley Community College Student Congress silenced The Student Voice, the school newspaper, but an alternate publication is making itself heard.
The first edition of ‘The Forbidden Voice’ was distributed this week. The four-page paper was published by members of The Student Voice staff, headed by Kory Aversa.
Student Congress President Jennifer Clarke-Weiler said the congress voted Wednesday to keep the newspaper office closed after learning the publication has more than $700 in unpaid debt,
Aversa said he saw the action coming when Clarke-Weiler shut down The Student Voice office April 28 and ordered an audit of the newspaper’s books.
He said he and members of the newspaper staff solicited money from other college clubs, students, staff and faculty and one sympathetic advertiser to publish The Forbidden Voice.
In the four-page bootleg edition, Aversa accuses Student Congress of ulterior motives, implying again the financial problem was just a smoke screen to prevent the student body from seeing articles critical of the school or of the student government.
Clarke-Weiler said the only reason the newspaper was shut down is that it has at least $700 in debt.
She said the trouble can be traced to Aversa’s decision to publish a bi-weekly newspaper instead of the traditional monthly editions. ‘It just put them in the hole much faster,’ she said.
She said the newspaper was allocated $7,130 for the year from student activity fee monies. The Student Voice’s losses will be covered by taking money left over from other clubs and activity fees paid by summer students, she said.
Student treasurer Rich LaPointe said the newspaper is the only student organization on campus that exceeded its budget this semester.
Student Congress is considering measures to tighten control over the newspaper’s finances to prevent a recurrence, Clarke-Weiler said.
A new editor will be at the newspaper’s helm in the fall, she added.
Aversa said he did not apply for the editor’s job next semester because he was convinced Student Congress would not consider him.
‘When a new editor comes, I’ll help all I can,’ he said.
‘I just hope he’s not a yes-man for the congress, otherwise we might continue The Forbidden Voice,’ Aversa said.
The Forbidden Voice contains seven stories, a sports wrapup and three editorials, two by Aversa and one by assistant editor Tracy Stahl about the demise of The Student Voice, and one by Stahl about rape.
The lead front page story praises the school’s ‘Earth ‘92’ event, which included ‘the Student Voice’ among its organizers. The other front page story recounts the closing of the Newspaper office.
The back page is largely devoted to two articles about racial tension at MVCC caused by ‘a lack of communication’ in the dormitory system and dorm officials’ plans to correct the situation next year.”

Al-Quaida, 2005

(April 13, 2005, Observer-Dispatch) – “Terror suspect accepted at MVCC – Man accused in plotting bomb attacks admitted in 2000, never enrolled – An alleged al-Quaida operative once accepted at Mohawk Valley Community College has been charged with plotting with two other men to bomb five financial buildings in the United States, according to a federal grand jury indictment made public Tuesday.
The three men, led by Dhiren Barot, 32, whose numerous aliases include Abu Eisa al-Hindi, have been in custody since August in Great Britain, where they also face terrorism charges.
Federal prosecutors claim Barot wrote detailed surveillance reports on security and other activities at the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup Centre in New York; Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, N.J.; AND THE International Monetary Fund office and World Bank in Washington, D.C.
The indictment, issued in New York, alleges that Barot if a former al-Quaida training camp instructor who applied to a college in New York state as cover for his ‘true purpose’ of conducting surveillance on the financial institutions in 2000 and 2001. The grand jury said Barot never enrolled or attended any classes.
ABC News reported Tuesday that Barot posed as a college student after entering the country, according to the FBI. ABC’s report cited Barot’s application to attend MVCC. …
When Barot applied, he gave the college addresses in New Jersey and London…
Potential students receive student visas from the federal government, not the college…
Barot, Nadeem Tarmohamed, 26, and Quaisar Shaffi, 25, were charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction – bombs – to damage and destroy buildings used in interstate and foreign commerce. They also were charged with conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorists.
Their arrests – along with those of a half-dozen others across the United Kingdom – came after a series of arrests in Pakistan earlier in the summer, one of which yielded a laptop computer that contained surveillance reports on the U.S. financial buildings.
The arrests overseas led U.S. officials to raise the terror alert level for the financial sectors in New York City, Newark, NJ, and Washington until November. The arrests also heightened concerns that al-Quaida was planning to attack the United States in the weeks leading up to the presidential election on Nov. 2.
Alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed – who was captured in Pakistan in 2003 – told U.S. interrogators that Osama bin Laden sent Barot to the United States in early 2001 ‘to case potential economic and Jewish targets in New York City,’ said the report by the 9/11 Commission, the independent panel that investigated the deadly hijacking attacks on the United States.
In the United Kingdom, Barot, Tarmohamed and Shaffi face charges of conspiring to commit murder and use radioactive materials, toxic gases, chemicals or explosives. British officials also have charged Barot with having surveillance reports and notebooks about explosives, poisons and chemicals.
The three were taken into British custody after a series of arrests that began last June in Pakistan with the capture of Mussad Aruchi, a nephew of Mohammed. Aruchi’s arrest led to the capture of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan in Lahore on July 13.

(April 13, 2005, Rome Daily Sentinel) – “Man charged in terror plot accepted at MVCC – One of the three men charged in a terrorist plot to attack financial institutions in the U.S. was accepted at Mohawk Valley Community College in 2000, but never enrolled nor attended classes there.
Chiren Barot, 33. who was indicted by a federal grand jury along with the other men, applied to a college in New York in mid-2000 to ‘conceal the true purpose of his subsequent trips to the United States,’ according to the Department of Justice.
The indictment charges that Barot and the other defendants conducted surveillance of several financial buildings in New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. ‘as part of a conspiracy to damage and destroy the buildings,’ the Department of Justice said.
Barot applied at MVCC to enter a certificate program in communication skills… However, Barot never attended a class at the college after being accepted for the fall 2000 semester was was ‘never an actual MVCC student,’… Barot never paid any money to the college …
Barot applied to MVCC by mail and listed a permanent address of London, England, and a parent/guardian address of Cliffside Park, N.J., but did not name a parent/guardian… When foreign students are accepted, the college typically sends them a verification document and students must then contact the U.S. Consulate in their home country to receive a student visa…
Barot was identified in the federal indictment as a lead instructor at a jihad training camp in Afghanistan where recruits were taught to use weapons, and received other paramilitary training….”