The board of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Cultures upheld the firing of the museum’s executive director this afternoon, in a decision that has revealed significant division between the board and many museum supporters.
After a three-hour closed-door meeting, the board voted 13-7 to terminate Forrest B. Rodgers, who has led the museum only since last summer. Board members refused to provide reasoning for the decision.
“This is a confidential employee matter,” board president Chris Schnug said after the meeting.
Last week, the executive committee of the board violated board rules by informing Rodgers that he had been fired even though the museum’s full board hadn’t voted on the termination. Some board members said they were even unaware that there was dissatisfaction about Rodgers’ among executive committee members until after Rodgers had been fired.
Schnug and several other board members declined to comment about the process used to fire Rodgers.
Rodgers, 60, was hired last summer and started his new job Aug. 1 after years of financial turmoil at the museum. He is the former president and CEO of the High Desert Museum in Bend, Ore., and former executive director of the Central Washington University Foundation.
Supporters of Rodgers say he’s brought the museum fresh, innovative and professional leadership after years of instability.
Francis Cullooyah, chairman of the museum’s American Indian Cultural Council, said the board hasn’t revealed to the cultural council why Rodgers was fired. He said the council has been impressed with Rodgers’ leadership. Those who work with the museum and other supporters deserve answers for why he was removed, he said.
“It just seemed like they disrespected us,” Cullooyah said.
Rodgers had requested that board discussions about his employment remain open to the public, but the board voted at the start of the meeting to meet privately.
Sue Bradley, a member of the museum’s foundation board, said she hoped the board would keep the meeting open.
“If the decision is well-based, there should be no hesitation in letting the stakeholders know what it was based on,” she said.