Progress on challenges at the national, state and local level
Below is President Tim Wynes’ response to an open letter and website issued to the Inver Hills Community College campus regarding an impending vote of no confidence at Inver Hills.
According to a press release issued by the Minnesota State College Faculty union on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, the vote is scheduled to take place at Inver Hills on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. The outcome will be announced as soon as that information is available.
There is not a vote scheduled to take place at Dakota County Technical College where Wynes also serves as president.
Tim Wynes serves as president of Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College (DCTC). He was appointed president of Inver Hills in 2010 and named permanent president of DCTC in 2015 after serving on an interim basis since 2013.
To the Inver Hills community:
I write today in response to the IHSCF Executive Committee’s open letter distributed on Monday. I appreciate their invitation for me to respond. Given the complexity of the items outlined I won’t be supplying a point-by-point response, but will do my best to frame where things are at and where I hope to go from here. Should anyone wish to discuss details, I would welcome the opportunity to meet in person.
Since I started as president, we have faced many challenges together in our joint service of students. The challenges have seemingly come from every direction:
- As with all colleges around the country, we have experienced changing enrollments in the aftermath of the Great Recession as potential students have entered the workforce and deferred education; at the same time, we have been hit by the initial waves of baby boomer retirements of our colleagues.
- At the state level, and like our sister MnSCU colleges, we have faced changes in our student demographics, changes in legislative support, and changes in the allocation of system resources.
- At the most local level, the shared presidency and other aligned positions with DCTC have presented opportunities that represent real change.
Throughout all of this, we have worked together to serve students the best way we know how. We have used shared governance meetings, Conversation Days, department meetings, cabinet meetings, committee meetings and other meetings as the places where we work together to develop solutions that best serve students. We have had some serious conversations, some solid successes and a few missteps—including some for which I have personally taken responsibility.
The points outlined in the faculty’s open letter are one side of multidimensional issues, each with nuances and history. As with any organization, everyone doesn’t always agree with the decision or solution reached. In some cases, faculty union leaders have disagreed with decisions and chosen not to participate in further conversations. The faculty leaders’ decision not to participate in some of the meetings on our campus is unfortunate, but should not distract us from the work that lies ahead.
I am proud that we are advancing work on many of the items identified in Monday’s letter even though faculty leadership has chosen not to participate. As we speak, strategic planning is taking place on this campus. From that work, plans to address stewardship, enrollment, retention, and more will be forthcoming. While it indeed has been a long time coming, the work that needs to be done is in progress. For us to do truly great work on behalf of our students, we need to work together and be willing to engage in open, honest dialogue.
To those who have specific concerns regarding my leadership or anything happening at Inver Hills, I hope you will speak directly to your supervisor, any member of the administrative team or me so we can address concerns and work together to find solutions. Please don’t let fear, anger or misunderstanding hold you back from sharing your ideas and solutions. I want to hear what you have to say.
Before I worked in education, I represented victims of abuse as an attorney. It is through this work that I discovered I wanted to make my career working with community colleges—places where I witnessed people develop the power to restart their lives. The work—now our shared mission—continues to inspire me and I remain committed to it.
I sincerely appreciate the tremendous outpouring of support I have received from employees, students and community members. Please know that your support has helped sustain me and I intend to continue to do my part to move Inver Hills forward with the best interests of our students in mind.