Northern Marianas College Renews President’s Contract

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Board of regents chair satisfied with results of voting

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 3, 2013) – After deliberating for hours, the Northern Marianas College (NMC) Board of Regents voted yesterday to renew the two-year employment contract of NMC president Sharon Hart, Ph.D.

The decision was unanimously approved by all seven board members after a lengthy and intense closed-door deliberation on her performance evaluation yesterday.

Contract negotiation will now begin for a new salary package for the CEO. Hart currently receives $80,000 per annum on top of her $800 monthly housing allowance.

Regents chair Juan T. Lizama expressed satisfaction with the voting results, saying all regents reached an "amicable agreement" on what's really the main goal of the board.

Lizama said that all regents are convinced that "Dr. Hart can do the job at the college."

The motion to renew Hart's contract, endorsed by Malua Peter and seconded by Elaine Orilla-Hocog, was not discussed by members in the open session.

During the voting period, however, Andrew Orsini requested that his vote be called only after all his colleagues have already cast theirs. Orsini chaired the ad-hoc committee that was supposed to evaluate Hart.

In the end, Orsini voted "yes" after fellow regents William Torres, Frank Rabauliman, Michaela Sanchez, Peters, Orilla, and Lizama made known their decisions.

Hart later told Saipan Tribune that she is very pleased with the board's decision. She vowed to perform her best and deliver on the board's expectations, especially when it comes to having NMC's accreditation reaffirmed. She said it's a critical time for her, the board, and the college to now "move forward" and "be on the same page."

According to Lizama, the board evaluated Hart based on institutional goals and the results were compiled and attached to the president's personal profile.

Besides the college's accreditation, Lizama said the board also expects Hart "to continue to strive for a better relationship with her constituents" during her second term.

Faculty members earlier gave Hart a no-confidence vote but the board later invalidated the vote due to its lack of quorum.

Hart admitted yesterday that, despite the faculty action being found unconstitutional, what was made clear is that there are issues and concerns that need to be resolved. According to her, leadership criticism is common in any organization and NMC is not an exemption.

"I am planning to sit down with leaders of the various groups, because the more individuals, the more messages and information that can move forward. The issue here is communication, and it goes both ways," she said.

When asked about her new salary package, Hart said that both parties will negotiate on what is fair.

Lizama refused to comment on this pending the completion of negotiations. Saipan Tribune learned that results will be known before the expiration of Hart's contract on July 4.

On the issue of possible retaliation against employees who have criticized her, Hart had only this to say: "In an organization like this college, we have to be on the same theme, we have to look at institutional values. And I will say this, if people are not on the same theme and if these people are not willing to be on the same theme, this may not be the place for that person. We are going to move forward and everyone has to do it appropriately," said Hart.

She promised to stay on for the duration of her new contract. "Right now, we will be entering into a negotiation and no one knows what will it bring out, but my commitment today is, yes, I will help this institution to get through. I truly believe that this is not the best time to lose its president," she said.

Hart said she learned a lot from her first two years at NMC and that included, among others, understanding more about cultural differences and sensitivity. The president bared her plans of writing a book on her experiences at NMC to help other and future college CEOs here and abroad.

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