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North Idaho College has three new leadership team members

Two of three new NIC employees who will join the leadership team will be introduced during Wednesday's meeting.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — When the North Idaho College board of trustees meets tonight, Interim President Greg South will likely introduce two of three new NIC employees he has brought on to join his leadership team, as reported by KREM 2 News partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.

This will be the first meeting since South was hired Dec. 21, 2022, to fill in while President Nick Swayne remains on paid administrative leave. South will provide an interim president’s report.

The new hires include Peggy Bradford, NIC’s interim provost, and Debbie DiThomas, who the college confirmed Tuesday is “in a consulting role as Special Assistant to the President.”

A third new employee, James Forkum, NIC’s interim dean of Student Life, is reportedly working remotely and will be on campus next week.

Laura Rumpler, NIC’s chief communications officer, said the three employees began to work for NIC “on or around” Jan. 9.

NIC has not provided salary information for any of the new hires, although The Press has made multiple requests for it.

Rumpler told the newspaper in an email Tuesday that Bradford and Forkum are temporary employees.

“So their employee agreements are part of their personnel file and not subject to public disclosure. It is my understanding that Dr. DiThomas is in a consultant role for approximately four to six weeks,” Rumpler wrote. “I am awaiting information on what is public record for me to release.”

Idaho law protects information about employee evaluations, discipline and employees’ personal information like driver’s license and Social Security numbers from disclosure; however, nearly all standard employment agreement compensation details for public employees are considered public information, which Rumpler acknowledged in her email.

“In Idaho Code § 74-106(1), there is one standard for disclosure of personnel information for all public employers: required disclosure of a current or former employee’s or public official’s ‘employment history, classification, pay grade and step, longevity, gross salary and salary history, including bonuses, severance packages, other compensation or vouchered and unvouchered expenses for which reimbursement was paid, status, workplace and employing agency,’” Rumpler wrote.

The law does not differentiate between permanent and temporary employees.

Bradford is the former president of Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Ill. She stepped down from the position in 2019 and continued the final year of her three-year contract with the college in a different role.

The Southern Illinoisan reported that Bradford “frequently tangled with faculty members” during her time as president and received two votes of no confidence from the union representing faculty.

“The new president has made many changes to benefit the college, especially in terms of financial stability,” said a December 2018 report from the Higher Learning Commission, Shawnee Community College’s accrediting organization. “However, current relationships between faculty and administration are strained and cannot continue without negatively impacting college operations and student learning.”

DiThomas retired in 2017 after completing a four-year term as superintendent/president of the Barstow Community College District in Barstow, Calif.

Forkum is the retired director of athletics at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif.

On tonight’s meeting agenda is a motion for South to “evaluate ASNIC representation” on the board. The item will reportedly call for a nonvoting representative from NIC’s student government to sit with the board during regular meetings.

Information items related to accreditation and enrollment will also be presented during the meeting. There will be a public comment period.

The trustees meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Edminster Student Union Building on the main NIC campus in Coeur d’Alene.

The meeting will also be available for viewing online via Zoom, with a link found at nic.edu/board.

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

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