Tension at Shawnee Community College still growing

One on one with the SCC President
Updated: Jul. 17, 2018 at 6:06 PM CDT
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ULLIN, IL (KFVS) - Since Dr. Peggy Bradford took the position of President at Shawnee Community College about a year ago, there's been tension and inner turmoil growing at the school between her and people who work at the school.

Since taking the position, faculty say 28 employees have either resigned, retired, or have been terminated from the school.

President of the SCC Teacher's Union, Sheryl Ribbing says the majority of these people ending their employment at the school come from a hostile work environment that has been created since Bradford coming to the school.

In June, faculty made a vote of no confidence towards Bradford, but she says she stands by her actions throughout the past year.

It's unfortunate that it went to that level, but that's something when you're trying to make your decisions, you have to make tough decisions.  And you have to make decisions, for me, that are in the best interests of the students.  And you have to make decisions that you can see further down the road how all of these different activities are going to come forward and help us graduate more students

Since Bradford has been President of the University, she's made some tough cost cutting decisions that she believes are part of the growing tension. They mainly revolve around teacher overload pay (where teachers make extra money for teaching past a certain number of credit hours) as well as changing the way teachers are deemed qualified to teach their classes.

No one addressed the teaching qualifications here at the college.  They were not addressed.  And the other is with the overload pay.  It was not addressed.  And that pay is substantial.  If you can make 24 additional thousand dollars that's going to be an area where people are going to have disagreement about.  That's on top of their other pay

However, Ribbing says on behalf of the teachers and staff that these are not the issues causing the inner turmoil and animosity at the school.

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She says only 1 member of the faculty has been deemed not credentialed in the past year. So that isn't an issue for them. As far as cutting classes that teachers get overload pay for, she says that has never been a complaint that they've made to the board.

When asked what the problem staff and faculty have with Dr. Bradford's leadership is, she continues to blame the work environment that has been created since Bradford came to the school.

Lines of communication are disrupted. Elements at the college that were efficient and working are dismantled. And an environment where collaboration is no longer promoted

When asked to give a specific incident where Dr. Bradford's actions directly attributed to the hostility between employees and Bradford, she simply said there were many. Dr. Bradford seems to be getting the same kind of answer to that question.

I welcome them to bring specifics.  What I haven't had is when somebody says oh it's this decision or that decision.  We don't know what decisions they're talking about because the only decisions that we've had are basically decisions that would be in the best interests of our students.  You want students to have internships.  You want students to graduate and not spend ten years trying to get an associate's degree.  We want to see more students graduate or transfer to a four-year institution or seek employment.  Our whole focus with the administration has been what can we do for students and how can we better our community here.  I'm from this community.  I'm an alumni from here

With school starting in a few weeks, both the teachers and Bradford say they are going to try and do what's best for the students.

"I think that we have, that we're at a point to where that if we can stay focused on the students and we'll continue reaching out, building teams and see what happens," said Dr. Bradford.

"We have to be focused on preserving our future, and that's what we're gonna continue to do. We're gonna continue to go in every day and put our students first," said Ribbing.

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