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Faculty at OH community college issue vote of no confidence

Eastern Gateway Community College has had a rough patch over the past year. EGCC, in Steubenville, OH would be a small community college – about 2,000 students – if left to its own devices. Instead, EGCC has been hijacked by a deal between EGCC and the AFSCME. That deal has converted EGCC from a small, rural community college in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains to a national education provider serving students in all 50 states.

That move has resulted in some unwanted attention from the US Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and the Ohio State Legislature. Earlier this year, the Department of Education initially suspended EGCC’s ability to issue federal financial aid, then put the school on a heightened cash monitoring status, which drove EGCC to the brink of financial ruin.

The Higher Learning Commission, which accredits the school, put EGCC on a probationary status, and has demanded changes that – if not made – could cost the school its accreditation. The Ohio State Legislature changed the funding formula for its community colleges. The new rules clearly favor schools that cater to district and state residents. Since very few of the residents that EGCC serves live in the district – or even in the state, for that matter – EGCC has been largely stripped of state funding.

Amid a revolving leadership door and failed deals with its online program manager, EGCC’s faculty have decided to take a turn at criticizing the school’s leadership. Votes of no confidence are growing more common among post-secondary faculty, but EGCC’s faculty went one step farther: they passed a vote of no confidence aimed at the school’s Board of Trustees, its president and its chief financial officer for failing to correct the issues the Department of Ed and the Higher Learning Commission have raised.

Community college faces uphill battle

In a statement issued yesterday, the Eastern Gateway Community College Education Association’s membership said:

“The singular focus of the EGCCEA is to run strong programs that support the educational aspirations of the students who attend Eastern Gateway Community College from the four-county area and through the online programs. Compelled by that mission and a string of recent failures in leadership by the Eastern Gateway Community College’s Associate Vice President of Financial Aid, interim President, and Board of Trustees, EGCCEA members approved a vote of no confidence in the College leadership at a general membership meeting last week.”

Specifically of the EGCC Trustees, the union said:

“This action comes as a result of the Board of Trustee’s failure to oversee and correct these failures of senior leadership at the College. Our concern was, and is, based in the immediate and ongoing impact that these issues are having in our ability as educators to adequately serve our students.”

The impact the votes of no confidence have remain to be seen, but the EGCC faculty have made it clear that they believe the school’s leadership is not addressing the serious issues that EGCC faces. According to the faculty, the issues that the Department of Education raised regarding federal financial aid remain unresolved. Additionally, the HLC placed the school on probation in 2021 and plans to revisit the campus in early 2024 to see whether EGCC has addressed the HLC’s accreditation concerns. If the issues remain substantially the same, or if new issues have arisen, the HLC could take a variety of actions against the school, including withdrawing its accreditation.

Photo Credit: Joe Dawson, via Flickr