Edward Waters College

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Here is an interesting article I read today from a Jacksonville, FL newspaper. It's reasonable to conclude that I'm quite concerned about these developments at EWC. See the article below. QED

Last modified Wed., June 09, 2004 - 03:23 PM Originally created Wednesday, June 9, 2004

EWC fires 5 from top positions

No reasons given, but moves followed protest over handling of graduate.

By BETH KORMANIK and DAVID DECAMP The Times-Union Edward Waters College fired five administrators in recent weeks, a sweeping move that college officials did not explain Tuesday.

The private historically black college in Jacksonville fired its vice president of academic affairs, dean of students, dean of professional programs and human services, and the chairwomen of the psychology and communications departments.

College President Jimmy Jenkins declined to speak about the decisions, university officials said Tuesday. The college released a statement through attorney Michael Freed declining to give details, saying it usually does not comment on personnel decisions. In an interview, Freed declined to provide reasons for the moves.

"The college makes every employment decision individually focusing on the college's best interests," Freed said.

Jayme Bradford, chairwoman of the Communications Department, said the college gave no reason for her firing Friday, but it came after several clashes with administrators. In one incident, Bradford protested when a popular student leader was allowed to participate in graduation last month despite admitting she removed several failing grades from her transcript and was supposed to serve a yearlong suspension.

At least four of the five administrators fired were involved in that incident.

"I don't understand how they can fire key administrators without justification and not be held accountable," Bradford said. "What are the students going to do? These are key positions."

Juan Gray, dean of students, declined to comment about his firing. In April, Gray issued an internal memo saying the school was in an "academic crisis" because more than half of all students had D's or F's in at least one class by mid-semester. The school's leadership publicly downplayed his concerns.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Alan Sheppard and Psychology Department Chairwoman Patricia Whittingham did not return messages to their cell phones. Dudley Gill, dean of professional programs and human services, also did not return phone messages.

Bradford provided the names of those fired, which Phyllis Bell-Davis, the university's director of institutional effectiveness, said were accurate.

The college's statement lists no names except Bradford. It took issue with her account, calling it "inaccurate" but declining to give specifics.

"It is particularly troubling that anyone in higher education would disclose purported information regarding individual students or colleagues," the statement said. "This standing alone evidences an unfitness for employment in an academic setting."

The firing comes in the middle of Bradford's summer teaching schedule, which includes a creative writing course and a communications workshop for high school students. She does not know who will take over those duties.

Bradford said she was escorted off campus and her office door locked with her belongings inside. She said she tried to contact college officials but her attempts were rebuffed.

The dispute that ties most of those fired together involved the grades of one popular student leader, according to college memos obtained by the Times-Union. The student admitted she deleted failing grades on her transcript and was found guilty of academic dishonesty and forging her transcript. One of the grades came from Whittingham and another grade came from an instructor who reported to Bradford. Gray and Sheppard were aware of the situation, according to the documents.

Despite the student's appeal being denied by Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Buckman, she was cleared for graduation, according to the documents. Freed declined to say how the decision was changed.

Bradford said she joined the American Association of University Professors, a national organization dedicated to faculty rights, after the incident.

Bradford said she believes the campus also is punishing her for releasing an essay written by a student killed across the street from campus dorms. The student, Johnathan Glenn, had written a piece for Bradford's class criticizing campus security before he was shot in April in a robbery attempt. Bradford shared the essay with students and faculty, and it eventually reached the media.

"I wanted to share his life's words, and he became an involuntary martyr for his cause," she said. "I hope we learn from it. His tenure there was brief but it was very memorable, and we should learn from this experience."

Bradford said the college denied her request to attend Glenn's funeral as a chaperone to a group of students from EWC, even though Glenn "was like a son to me."

Jonathan Knight, who directs the program on academic freedom and tenure at the American Association of University Professors, said colleges that want to dismiss a faculty member mid-term should have a hearing before a faculty committee. Faculty should know the reasons why they are being dismissed, he said.

Department chairs are considered supervisors, not faculty, for collective bargaining purposes, Freed said.

Bradford, a former Times-Union reporter, said she just wants her job back.

"I love the students and I love what I was doing," she said. "I know I was effective at what I was doing. I think this is personal and it's not professional."

beth.kormanikjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4619

david.decampjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4699

-- Anonymous, June 09, 2004


While this is unfortunate there is no true information provided in the article. Because the reporter could not get statements from the college, the individual expanded on the firing. I would like to learn more information before we begin any judgemental rhetoric.

Early this year there was an article about how enrollment has increased at Edward Waters, they are preparing to expand the college and build more dorms, they are increasing security, they are not in financial debt as are many private colleges and universities. It was a positive article. I will try to find that and post on the board as well.

-- Anonymous, June 24, 2004

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