Gadsden State to hold confidence vote on school president
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
May 07, 2013 | 5446 views |  0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gadsden State Community College employees will vote today on whether they support the school’s president, Raymond Staats, after multiple complaints were made against him and the school in the past year.

The vote is advisory and will not affect Staats’ employment or the community college. It will be held at several of the school's campuses, including from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Ayers campus in Anniston. The Alabama Education Association, which is facilitating the vote but has no position on the outcome, will post the results later today.

The vote, which is more akin to a poll of Staats' job performance, comes after several Gadsden State employees voiced various complaints in the last year to AEA, said George Terrell, president of the Gadsden State Education Association, which represents the AEA employees at Gadsden State. Staats was hired in 2011 as president of Gadsden State.

Amy Marlowe of the post-secondary division of AEA said the complaints had become so numerous that the association decided to organize the vote.

"The most numerous complaints were on the efforts by the president to hire a vice president while other staff are being reduced," Marlowe said. "There were also some questions on capital spending ... such as construction of president's offices at the Gadsden and Anniston campuses."

In an email Tuesday to The Star, Staats did not comment on any complaints but stated he was “eager” to address any concerns as they arise.

"AEA representatives, who organized and are conducting the polling, have not as yet indicated the nature of any concerns that prompted this vote," Staats said in the email.

Terrell said all Gadsden State employees, not just AEA members, are encouraged to participate in the vote. The vote will be by secret ballot and no names will be recorded, Terrell said.

"They will be asked to vote, 'I don't support the president or I do support the president,'" Terrell said.

A prepared statement from Gadsden State Tuesday said the community college embraces the philosophy of transparent and open leadership.

"The president welcomes and encourages all employees of the college to express their opinion," according to the statement. "This survey is one among many tools the college uses to gauge employee sentiment and satisfaction and particularly on-going support of college initiatives. Dr. Staats looks forward to this latest feedback and will actively work to resolve any concerns identified."

During a brief phone interview Tuesday, Kay Smith-Foster, public relations coordinator for Gadsden State, said Staats only learned about the vote after receiving an email from the AEA.

"We don't know what it is about," Smith-Foster said about the vote.

Once the ballots are tallied, the results will likely be sent to Mark Heinrich, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, Terrell said. Terrell reiterated that the vote itself is advisory and that AEA has no stake in the outcome.

"We've officially taken no position on this," he said.

Terrell said the situation is almost unprecedented.

"This is only the second time in the history of the community college system that we know of that this has happened," Terrell said of the vote.

The Alabama Community College System was founded in 1965.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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