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By Harry Esteve of The Oregonian. Originally posted here.
GRESHAM — A longtime member of the Mount Hood Community College board says he will resign over what he calls a “culture of intimidation and confrontation ” by the school’s unionized faculty, and he has called for a state investigation into unspecified cases of misconduct.
“There is a cancer, I believe, in this institution,” college board member Ralph Yates said during a meeting Wednesday night. He said he would resign effective Sept. 1.
Yates, a Portland sports physician who has been on the board for 13 years and is its senior member, said he tried to get fellow board members to look into what he believes is wrongdoing at the college but was rebuffed. So he took his complaints to the secretary of state’s office and asked for an official audit.
It’s unclear at this point whether Secretary of State Kate Brown has ordered an investigation, and if so, what or who is the target of the investigation. Board Chairman Dave Shields did not immediately respond to requests for an interview.
Yates was clearly upset by the board’s relationship with the Mount Hood full-time faculty, who nearly went on strike last year during a bitter contract dispute. Sara Williams, a teacher at the college who heads the faculty union, said she doesn’t know what Yates wants investigated.
“We regret that Dr. Yates appears to be so angry that he would decline to even approach the full-time faculty with his concerns,” Williams said. “I genuinely have no information regarding what his assertions are.”
The two-year college, which serves more than 30,000 students, has undergone a rocky period over the past couple of years. In addition to tensions between the board and faculty, it has been operating for more than a year with an interim president, and enrollment has declined slightly.
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