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Key board of trustees members resign from NIC

Christie Wood and Ken Howard announced their resignation following potential loss of accreditation.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — North Idaho College (NIC) trustees Christie Wood and Ken Howard have announced their resignation from the NIC Board of Trustees, effective May 3, as reported by our partners, the Coeur d'Alene Press.

Wood and Howard delivered to the college today a letter detailing the reasons for their upcoming departure. Their exit will leave just two trustees, Todd Banducci and Greg McKenzie, and thus, the NIC board will be unable to function without a quorum. The State Board of Education is expected to step in to appoint three new trustees.

The following "Letter to the North Idaho College Community" was delivered Friday to NIC Board of Trustees Chairman Todd Banducci:

"North Idaho College Trustees Ken Howard and Christie Wood announce our intent to resign from the North Idaho College Board of Trustees effective May 3, 2022.

As long-serving trustees who understand the opportunities that higher education brings to our community we feel we have done all we can do to resolve the existing problems with Board leadership, specifically our Board Chair. We were recently unsuccessful in appointing a fifth trustee who would help ensure proper board governance moving forward.

Letters of No Confidence, and the demand for the Board Chair's resignation from faculty and staff have been ignored. Former President Rick MacLennan was dismissed without cause by three trustees resulting in a lawsuit and payment of damages of approximately $500,000. Influenced by the wrongful dismissal of the college president virtually all of the senior administrative vice presidents resigned. COVID protocols to safeguard the health of NIC faculty, staff, and students were rescinded without replacement of a coherent Policy as required by Idaho statute. Due to actions of Trustees Banducci, McKenzie and former Trustee Barnes donations to the NIC Foundation of approximately Five Million dollars have been withdrawn. Our Credit Rating has been downgraded to almost junk status due to our Board leadership. Enrollment this year at NIC is projected to decrease due to Board conduct. For the first time in our memory the continuing accreditation at NIC is in question, which has resulted in the first ever Warning, Sanction and oversight. The Warning is presently affecting the operational aspects of the institution by removing our Fast Track status.

Due to the challenges to accreditation community members have begun to question whether NIC will provide a properly accredited education for their children. Board meetings have been disruptive, unprofessional, and embarrassing to our institution. Roberts Rules of Order were adopted as a policy to address the unruly conduct at Board meetings but have been ignored by the Board Chair. Community concern and outrage has been publicly displayed in newspapers and social media. This includes letters of concern submitted by businesses, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, the State Board of Education, four area Chambers of Commerce and numerous community leaders.

An immediate challenge is the selection of a permanent president. NWCCU has recommended the appointment of a permanent president utilizing a process that permits an appropriate level of engagement by institutional stakeholders. The college signed a contract in December 2021 with a consultant to assist in the presidential search. A community based committee has been formed to carry out the search process. The Board Chair Todd Banducci and Trustee Mackenzie have both announced that they do not want to engage in a presidential search until next November at the earliest and have delayed this critical process at every opportunity. As trustees we have tried to address these concerns with no cooperation from Trustee Banducci or Trustee McKenzie.

We have worked conscientiously to address the existing problems with Board leadership, specifically with our Board Chair. We had hoped we would be able to select a fifth trustee to help constructively address the leadership problems we have experienced in the last 17 months. Unfortunately we were not successful.

We wish to acknowledge our faculty, staff, and administrators who have worked diligently to continue to deliver a quality education to our students while dealing with poor leadership from Board members and the current Board Chair.

Our employees have acted valiantly in maintaining their focus on the college mission and for continuing to put our students first. Our community deserves better as we face many critical challenges ahead.

Those challenges include correcting the deficiencies set forth in the letter of Warning and demand for corrective action recently submitted by the NWCCU. Addressing these deficiencies is required to maintain NIC's accreditation status. Without accreditation our students will not receive transferable credits and will lose numerous financial aid opportunities. This is not only devastating for our students, but also our employees, and our community who have relied on NIC for their educational needs since 1933.

It is with deep regret we are compelled to proceed with an action of resignation effective May 3, 2022. It is our understanding that the Idaho State Board of Education is empowered by statute with the authority to fill the three vacant trustee positions. We trust they will be able to fill these positions with individuals dedicated to the mission of providing a quality, affordable, education for all."

Respectfully submitted,

Trustee Ken Howard

Trustee Christie Wood

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 News partner. For more news from our partners, click here.

 

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