Embattled North Idaho College administrator Barbara Hanson resigned as the college’s vice president for instruction Wednesday. She’ll move into a newly created position of executive director of strategic program development for six months to finish initiatives she started as a vice president.
Hanson, who came to the NIC last summer from Arizona Western College, drew criticism for her administrative style and for changes she had proposed to the college’s departmental structuring. The faculty assembly gave her a vote of no confidence two weeks ago, with 89 voting for the motion and 15 against.
She said her resignation is what’s best for NIC.
“I can’t see letting the college spend its energy on one person or one employee group – it’s just not good for the college,” she said following a board of trustees meeting announcing the change. “I don’t want myself or any of the communication problems I may have with faculty interfering with the core mission of the college.”
It was just the second such move by the faculty in the college’s 74-year history. Former NIC President Barry Schuler drew the other no confidence vote in the late 1980s and later resigned.
Hanson’s resignation as a vice president is effective June 30. Kathy Christie, assistant vice president for planning, assessment and research, will serve as interim vice president for instruction.
Hanson’s program development position ends Dec. 31.
When asked if she planned to leave then, Hanson said she hadn’t thought about it.
“I’m not thinking more than a week ahead,” she said.
The college won’t begin looking for a new vice president for instruction until it completes the search for a new president, which is expected to happen sometime this summer.
Prior to the no-confidence vote, faculty passed a resolution criticizing changes Hanson proposed such as the addition of deanships and the splitting of the math and science departments. The resolution called her changes an “attack on NIC’s culture and collaborative decision-making process” and said her process for drafting them was “unilateral and exclusive.”
Hanson had hoped to reconcile with faculty following the vote but said in a news release “it is apparent we may be beyond that point now.”
English instructor Bob Bennett, chairman of next school year’s faculty assembly, said the no-confidence vote should answer the question of whether Hanson could have patched things up with them.
“I think they (the administration) listened,” he said.
The changes Hanson proposed – many of which were implemented months ago – will stay.
That’s what matters most, she said.
“It’s the right thing, it really is,” she said.
She defended the changes following the no-confidence vote and said while there may have been communication problems about their implementation, the changes are the right thing for the college.
Faculty criticized the creation of deanships as taking money away from classroom instruction and putting it into administration because senior faculty moved up into the positions and weren’t replaced. But the new deans will ultimately benefit the classroom by expanding programs, among other things, Hanson said.
Board member Mic Armon praised the creation of the program development position.
“This is something the business community demanded of us that we’ve just not been able to fill,” he said.
Initiatives that Hanson plans to continue working on include bringing a law enforcement training academy to NIC and possibly a fire academy and paramedic training.
Current faculty assembly chairman Bill Richards called the move “the best of a worst situation.”
“I think it’s very valuable that they put what’s best for faculty pretty high up on priority list,” he said of the NIC administration
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