NMI College President Seeks Dialogue Over Ouster Vote

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Hart urges school to work together, positively address issues

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 18, 2012) – After getting a no-confidence vote from her teaching staff, Northern Marianas College president Sharon Y. Hart, Ed.D., is reaching out to the Faculty Senate leadership to remedy the situation.

In a college statement yesterday, it said that Hart was notified of the no-confidence vote by Senate Faculty president Amanda Angel Diaz Friday afternoon but that no further details were provided in the e-mail communication.

"The president [Dr. Hart] spoke about receiving notification late Friday afternoon from the Faculty Senate president that a vote had been issued. No details other than the outcome of the vote were provided in the emailed letter," the NMC statement stated.

Hart acknowledged, however, that with the faculty vote, there seems to be a problem.

"The vote by the faculty tells me there is a problem or a number of problems that have come, or should have come, to my attention," Hart stated, adding that she is still waiting to receive a formal communication from the Faculty Senate regarding substantive issues.

Nineteen of the 23 full-time faculty members gave a vote of no confidence in Hart's leadership during their assembly Friday last week in Building J1. Two faculty members supported Hart while the two others abstained from voting.

Hart expressed disappointment upon seeing the article on Saipan Tribune yesterday about the Faculty Senate's action, saying that NMC continues to operate in a professional, ethical manner.

"The president was saddened to see the comments in Monday's Saipan Tribune. The college wants to clarify points made in the press. NMC has a number of policies and procedures in place that serves as a check and balance system. We continue to operate in a manner that is professional, ethical, and in line with higher education practices," stated the college.

Hart urged the college to come together during this time, to work together and to positively address each and every issue. "This is a stressful time, but working together for the betterment of the college and our students is key," she added.

Hart said she issued a letter to all college employees yesterday.

In yesterday's statement to the media, the college indicated that "the president is tasked to address a myriad of institutional challenges that can be both internal and external."

"And often with a new president, changes and accountability occur (and with these changes, some of those affected may feel the need to challenge the president's authority). Yet, it is the president's responsibility to listen to all stakeholders and to do so in an environment that provides a sense of fairness and equality," added the statement.

NMC has two types of employees: faculty and staff. According to the statement, NMC has 160 full-time employees and over 50 part-time employees. In addition, the college serves approximately 1,300 full-time students and over 20,000 community members.

"The president has an open-door philosophy and has welcomed and continues to welcome everyone to meet with her. Furthermore, Hart reminded the college community that a process is in place to take matters forward for review, consideration, or complaint," it added.

Sources of Saipan Tribune who asked not to be named earlier disclosed that the faculty lost confidence in Hart's leadership due to alleged financial mismanagement, unethical conduct, and jeopardizing accreditation.

Among the issues that concerned faculty, sources said, include overspending of college funds for the president's off-island travel that amounts to more than $200,000 in fiscal year 2011; a no-bid procurement of used tablet computers from Florida; amended recruitment procedures that allegedly favor new off-island hires; and allegations of favoritism, preferential treatment, and unfair compensation practices.

Hart is also being criticized for the sole-source contract for her husband for the new college foundation.

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