A-B Tech campus remains unsettled in wake of president’s announced resignation

***CORRECTION: Corrected name of controversial program to Designed Teaching and Learning.

Nearly two months after the president of A-B Tech announced her plan to resign, Dr. Betty Young remains on the job. The college’s vice presidents presented transition plans to the Board of Trustees on Monday, but one report riled a number of faculty members.

Nearly two months ago, Young announced she would resign, citing “discontent” and “division” on campus. Faculty, staff, trustees and Young have said little publicly about the situation, but at least part of the controversy surrounds institutional changes Young was pushing. Young remains on the job, and has not said when she plans to leave. Her contract with the college ends on June 30. She’s paid an annual salary of $190,104.

The transition plan presented by Dr. Sam Dosumu, vice president of instructional services, summed up the mood of the college. In his executive summary, Dosumu distilled the input he said he’d received through what he described as a “comprehensive effort” to hear from academic deans, associate deans, faculty and staff.

“The recent eighteen months brought in a leadership style that is termed ‘corporate’ and has made some staff and faculty uncomfortable with changes. The perception at the college is the ‘idea-implement-buy in’ model rather than ‘idea-buy in-implement; college personnel express a feeling of isolation and disconnect with new college initiatives. Pervasive across the college is the perception that every idea has to be implemented — a ‘hurry up and do it’ mindset.”

Dosumu, who joined the college in August 2008, went on to recommend a “continuous quality improvement” plan to prepare the college for “a cultural change.” His report also recommends a strategy to improve communication with faculty and students.

In addition, Dosumu’s report addressed a controversial new program on campus called Designed Teaching and Learning. The program, known simply as “DT&L,” is aimed making sure the college offers some uniformity and consistency in its courses. The program also focuses on beefing up the college’s online course offerings. A November 2008 report of the N.C. Office of State Budget and Management said the college “has been slow to offer competitive, high quality distance learning courses.” For fiscal 2007, the college had the lowest level of full-time equivalent staff positions for distance learning when compared to community colleges having more than 5,000 full-time equivalent positions, according to the report.

Dosumu told trustees on Monday that “our best opportunity to grow” to meet increased demand is to have a solid distance-learning program.

But the program implementation has been rocky on campus, in part because Jeffrey M. Ferezan, vice president of initiatives, was given the job. Young created the the position of vice president of initiatives, then hired Ferezan away from Northwest State Community College. Young worked with Ferezan at Northwest, where she worked as president and Ferezan worked as associate vice president for community and legislative relations.

Some faculty and staff complained about Dosumu’s report, so much so that trustees Chairwoman Carol Peterson asked Dosumu and Young to meet faculty and staff on Thursday afternoon. About 50 people met with Dosumu and Young in Ferguson Auditorium.

Also on Monday, trustees created a presidential-search committee. One of the committee’s first tasks will be to address the issue of finding an interim president to serve when Young leaves.

Click here to go to the Xpress Files and read Dr. Sam Dosumu’s transition plan.

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

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7 thoughts on “A-B Tech campus remains unsettled in wake of president’s announced resignation

  1. Matt Howard

    I cant help but notice that when people come in from outside Asheville to run something, things dont tend to go well.

  2. AB Tech Faculty Member

    This story is far from complete. We have actually been out-right lied to on a consistent basis at AB Tech. They are ruining our school and it has nothing to do with not being able to accept changes. The Administration is so far out of touch with the Faculty and the actual job of teaching that it’s scary. When Dr. Young arrived we had 3 VPs, now we have 6!!, and no one seems to know why, or what they actually do, except draw outrageous salaries, while around 75% of our faculty are Adjuncts and can barely afford to make ends-meet. What they have been doing is essentially destroying what we have spent decades building. Everyone is afraid for their jobs, being fired for disagreement, afraid to really speak out. We have far too few Full-Time faculty members while our Adjuncts are expected to work just as hard for less than 1/2 the pay. Yet we are going to spend huge amounts on nonsense like Designed Teaching and Learning. It really has become beyond ridiculous, and when the Board of Directors is told that they have been lied to and we tried to present them with our true data, their response essentially showed they really don’t care. AB Tech is in a truly sad state. It is no longer a school, but a business, and you can be sure if this continues, the quality of education at AB Tech will vanish.

  3. tammy

    I still see some distrust of those who “ain’t from ’round here” in some Asheville institutions, but ABTECH has so many transplants in it’s ranks that the effect there is negligible. Young is from another place where they apparently allow action that is not allowed by the NC community college system. Such as picking a person for a job and putting them in that position without any oversight (like a hiring committee, etc.) Or spending the colleges money on whatever the president feels is appropriate, again without regard to state or college law/regs.

    Down the road at Blue Ridge CC, a few years ago the president did the same thing, but after being there about 20 years. He had the board stacked so they would never question him. It dragged on for years with audit findings and investigations until the state and county finally figures out a way to clear him and his board out.

    Young’s shift to ‘idea-implement-buy in’ from K. Ray Bailey’s consensus building approach has upset many in the ranks. Colleges are not like companies, change often comes slower, but also more carefully. Under Bailey, the college enjoyed years of high ratings and a good reputation in the community.

    So I think the issue here was not that Young was from somewhere else, but how she did things in disregard to state/college regs. She also ran into the same kind of “reaction” from faculty/staff at her previous job. The real question for me is why did the board/state/hiring committee disregard the information about her previous troubles? Or did they think ABTECH needed that kind of radical shaking up?

  4. Another ABTech Instrutor

    As an instructor at ABTech who is very supportive of any instructors or adminstrators who are professional and competent, no matter their “insider” or “outsider” status, I feel I must clarify that it is not Dr. Young’s status as an “outisder” that has caused the unrest at ABTech, but her lack of competence as a leader.
    One of the problems is that Betty Young’s policies are attempting to micro-manage the course content and delivery. She and the DT&L;team have gone outside their field of expertise; for example, a DT&L;staffer telling the English department how one of their classes should be run. This staffer has no background in English. Dr. Young needs to understand that ABTech’s instructors are professionals, and we know how to effectively deliver our course content…better than she does. The administration has never made a convincing argument for DT&L;. The head of the DT&L;team, Jeff Ferezan (VP of Initiatives), has never even spoken at the faculty/staff updates. What does he do? No one knows! All we know is that Dr. Young brought him with her from Ohio and created this position for him. Before anyone dismisses the complaints against Dr. Young as simply being caused by a “distrust of outsiders,” they should look very closely at her record and policies. More than ever, we need ABTech to be a strong, viable college for our community, and we need leadership that will help us become stronger rather than weaker.

  5. Matt Howard

    I wasent making a value judgement, merely an observation. I wasent born here either. Generally speaking theres friction in any situation where someone comes in from outside a system to run things.

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