Less than two weeks after the Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) Board of Trustees ousted President Carolane Williams, students and faculty still have questions about her Dec. 11 dismissal.
Some students said they were unaware that Williams had been terminated.
“I'm indifferent,” said Ashley Woodfork, 20, a sophomore general studies major from Baltimore.
She described Williams, the first woman to lead the institution, as “a ghost” who some students “only knew from seeing pictures.”
“I don't know why we never really saw her, but hopefully the new president will communicate more,” said Woodfork.
A statement released by the trustees last week said that members of the board were looking for “a leader who will bring new urgency.”
“During this difficult economy, at a time when technology and job skill requirements are rapidly changing, we owe it to our students and to our city to continue to strive for excellence,” said an announcement about the departure of Williams posted to the BCCC website.
Williams’ dismissal was the second incident to rock the college last week. In an unrelated incident, Michelle Campbell, a BCCC administrative assistant, was indicted on 13 counts involving the theft of $8,000 from tuition payments earmarked for students in the institution’s Business and Continuing Education Department. Campbell has been dismissed.
“You would have never thought that it would happen to this community school that is so close,” said Ciarra Perkins, 19, a freshman nursing student.
Perkins said she was told by a counselor that Williams had been terminated.
“My advisor told me days later that Williams was gone and she wasn’t coming back,” Perkins said. “When she first said ‘gone,’ I thought she just meant on vacation.” Perkins said she was sad to hear the news about Williams, whom she said “helped the students,” but was more shocked about Campbell.
According to a statement posted on the website of Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Gregg Bernstein, Campbell was indicted in connection with alleged “theft schemes” that took place between Feb. 26, 2010 and Sept. 25, 2011. Bernstein has announced that he will prosecute the case.
Williams was at the helm of BCCC for six years. She took over from Dr. Richard M. Turner, who served as interim president from August 2004 to July 2006.
Her dismissal came a little more than two years after the faculty gave Williams a vote of no confidence for making a slew of changes with little to no input from staff, including program cuts and catalogue changes.
In July 2011, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education placed the college on probation, endangering its accreditation. The probation was removed earlier this summer after the college addressed the organization’s concerns.
Some faculty members want more details.
"The real reason has not been communicated to the staff and faculty. Hopefully something will be explained in the new year," said math department chair Scott Saunders, who’s been at the college since 1997. "Overall her service was incomplete. We haven't had a lot of policies or ideas assessed properly to see how it would have or could have worked.”
This semester has not been a good time to be president of an historically Black college or university (HBCU) in Baltimore. The Morgan State University Board of Regents announced on Dec. 12 that the contract of Dr. David Wilson, who has served as president since 2010, will not be renewed.
In October, Coppin State University President Reginald S. Avery resigned effective Jan. 22, 2013.