Rehiring Of Terminated Northern Marianas College President Dismays Founder

Fernandez reapplied for post after being fired and suing NMC

By Erwin Encinares 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Oct. 5, 2016) – Agnes McPhetres, founding president of the Northern Marianas College, expressed utter dismay upon hearing about the NMC Board of Regents’ decision to offer the presidency of the CNMI’s lone community college to former president Dr. Carmen Fernandez.

“To be honest with you, when a board terminates an individual because they broke a policy based on the investigation of the Attorney General’s Office and then that individual turns around to sue the institution is ridiculous,” said McPhetres right off the bat in an exclusive interview with Saipan Tribune. “For the same board, some of them the same members that terminated the individual, hiring the same person back is even more ridiculous.”

What baffles McPhetres is that Fernandez reapplied for the position where she got terminated from, and even questions the NMC Board of Regent’s decision making. “For Carmen to apply after such a situation receiving compensation from the institution, fighting with the institution, I thought that was ridiculous. What I find even more ridiculous is the board itself, to hire someone who actually defied them by suing them. I don’t know who is more crazy: Carmen or the NMC board.”

McPhetres said that appointing Fernandez as NMC president once again would be a contradiction of what the NMC board stands for. “One of the major roles of the board is to select a CEO. The board members, when they are appointed, during the hearing, they make at least a statement that the reason for them to accept the job is to protect the interest of higher education. I personally don’t think that it is the right choice to appoint an individual who defied the board by breaking policy,” she explained.

Questioning the NMC board’s ability to do background checks, McPhetres said the NMC regents are to blame. “I don’t know who applied, but I’m sure there are [other] people who are qualified. One other thing, the board did not actually do their research because if you’re looking for the best candidate, you have to look at where they came from, interview people that were with her, interview the institution where she was president, and how she was there. When she was a senator of Guam, they should be interviewing the people that worked with her. Did the board do that? Probably not, so I don’t blame Carmen. I blame the Board of Regents for not doing their fiduciary responsibility, and they owe the people of the CNMI.”

McPhetres reiterated that Fernandez’s past relationship with the board is not something to turn a blind eye at, even if NMC is in dire need of a president, and also stated that rehiring Fernandez would be like shooting oneself in the foot. ”She defied the board by breaking policy. The board turned around and hired a person who broke their policy. How could she uphold the policy of the board when she has proven to have no respect for the policies of the board? Is that good for accreditation? I don’t think so. I think it’s a black eye for NMC to have a president who has an issue with the college itself.”

Former representative Stanley Torres also did not mince words. “I don’t know what is happening with the Board of Regents,” he said. Torres shared the same points as McPhetres.

Despite the ruckus, Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) wants to be optimistic. “I trust that the presidential search committee has been through the screening process, have met with the applicant, and have the best candidate, so I have confidence [for] board to come up with the right person that we need,” she said. “I always like to think positive. Yes, there would be bumps along the way and we expect challenges to come up, but I think we should stay positive and move on.”

Ogumoro said the college should continue with its programs so that they remain strong for the benefit of the people and students in particular.

Saipan Tribune
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