This past Monday, two Palomar College professors—Barb Neault Kelber and Rafiki Jenkins—presented a petition to the Faculty Senate. The petition reads, as follows:
“Tenured faculty members are professionally obligated to sound the alarm when there is a threat to the well-being of our college, our students, and the communities that we serve and want to serve. Indeed, as long-term stewards of our college institutions and caretakers of our students’ interests, the tenured faculty must call for immediate consideration of the Superintendent/President’s job performance as based on the following observations:
Failure of leadership represented by the dismissal or departure of several skilled, qualified administrators.
Failure to consistently observe the policies and procedures established through shared governance, particularly as they relate to hiring, illuminated by the testimony of trusted faculty members before the Faculty Senate and the Governing Board.
Failure to maintain fiscal responsibility, exemplified by the significant depletion of the district’s reserves during the Superintendent/President’s time in office.
We, the undersigned, per Article 4/Section 10 of the Faculty Constitution, respectfully petition the Faculty Senate to poll the full-time faculty in order to gauge the level of confidence in the Superintendent/President’s leadership.”
What this amounts to is that the full-time faculty of Palomar will be considering a Vote of No Confidence for the school’s president, Dr. Joi Lin Blake. Next Monday, we on the Senate will approve the wording of the poll, which will then be conducted via confidential paper ballot and the count will be witnessed by an independent third party. This is not a step that is taken lightly by faculty at this or any other college or university; instead, it is a response to a crisis situation when the normal check on dysfunctional leadership—in this case, the Governing Board—is dominated by an unresponsive, recalcitrant majority. The climate that has led to this point is by no means felt only by faculty; there is widespread dissatisfaction with Dr. Blake’s leadership among staff and administrators as well. And what's at stake in this current climate reaches far beyond the employees at the school to stakeholders in our larger communities—students, of course, but also the taxpayers, who expect responsible fiscal management and stability in the vital resource that is Palomar College. The threats to all of this have prompted action.
One final note: if you are a full-time faculty member, please be sure that you receive a ballot, that you vote, and that you follow the directions for doing so. Details of the wording and the distribution of these ballots will be discussed at the Faculty Senate meeting next Monday, September 30, and if you want to provide input and/or hear the discussion, you should attend. The results of the vote remain to be seen, but I would like to publicly commend the leadership of my valued colleagues Barb and Rafiki for their response to the mounting concern over the direction in which Dr. Blake is taking Palomar College.