Gadsden State hosts confidence vote on school president
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
May 08, 2013 | 5767 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Gadsden State employee opens the Ayers voting envelope during the counting process at the main campus in Gadsden. (Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star)
A Gadsden State employee opens the Ayers voting envelope during the counting process at the main campus in Gadsden. (Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star)
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GADSDEN — More than 300 Gadsden State Community College employees voted Wednesday that they have no confidence in the leadership of school president Raymond Staats following complaints made in the past year regarding spending and hiring at the institution.

Of the 350 Gadsden State employees who participated in the balloting, which the Alabama Education Association facilitated at several of the college's campuses, 312, 89 percent, voted that they had no confidence in the leadership provided by Staats. Another 34 employees voted that they did have confidence in the president's leadership. Four voted that they were undecided.

According to Gadsden State records, the community college has 777 full-time and part-time employees. A small group of Gadsden State employees gathered Wednesday afternoon in Wallace Hall at the college's Gadsden campus to hear the voting results. Those in the group declined to comment on the results or their concerns about the community college's leadership.

The vote is advisory and will not affect Staat's employment or the community college. However, the results were sent to Mark Heinrich, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System for review.

"I presume the chancellor will want to know why this number is as high as it is," said George Terrell, president of the Gadsden State Education Association, the local AEA chapter that represents the employees at Gadsden State.

A prepared statement from Gadsden State on Wednesday said Staats was still examining the results of the vote.

"Dr. Staats is aware of the vote today," according to the statement. "He has not had the opportunity to fully analyze these results and will be taking some time to do so."

Amy Marlowe of the post-secondary division of AEA, who announced the ballot results, said AEA had no position on the outcome of the vote.

"This poll was purely conducted as a guidance tool ... we provided this poll today as a service to employees," Marlowe said.

Marlowe has said the AEA decided to organize the vote after receiving numerous complaints in the past year from Gadsden State employees. The complaints mainly focus on some capital expenditures that critics claim are unnecessary and the efforts to hire a vice president.

"We don't have the money to pay people we already have," Terrell said.

Terrell said the administration at Gadsden State is not interested in the concerns of employees.

"They are not receptive of what employees have to say," Terrell said. "It's either their way or you're wrong."

Terrell noted that as far as AEA can tell, this was only the second time in the history of the state community college system that such a vote has been held. The Alabama Community College System was founded in 1965.

"This is almost unprecedented," Terrell said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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