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BCC faculty approves ‘no confidence’ vote against Ryan, will demand resignation

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST : Bergen Community College faculty members today approved a “no confidence” vote in school President G. Jeremiah Ryan for what they consider wasteful spending — including bar tabs he rang up while schmoozing with political allies — in advance of a Board of Trustees meeting June 1 meeting at which the teachers plan to demand Ryan’s resignation.

BCC President G. Jeremiah Ryan

The vote was 92-26, with three absentions.

What’s more, the faculty members agreed to demand that the Board of Trustees order Ryan to resign or they will take a “no confidence” vote against the Board, as well. They intend to make that demand at the Board’s scheduled June 1 public meeting in Paramus, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

It’s unclear now how the student body will proceed, especially headed into their summer break — although representatives said they wanted censure before proceeding with a “no confidence” vote of their own.

Six months ago, Ryan avoided censure by the faculty, which instead OK’d a memorandum of agreement aimed at resolving the differences on both sides. The official tally was 118-51 in favor of the MOA. SEE: BCC faculty reaches agreement with Ryan

Faculty members were already upset over spending practices, including bonuses for Ryan’s staff following cuts in wages and hours for those in work-study programs . More recently, his expense account has come under scrutiny.

According to a county-level source, much of it has centered on what could be considered excessive amounts of dinners, lunches and other meetings off campus. Ryan claimed they were with potential donors, but records of nearly $30,000 he spent in one year show otherwise, the source said:

Besides such Democratic pals as former County Executive Dennis McNerney, on whom he spent $85 for breakfast, public records show Ryan treated members of his staff to dinner and drinks at exclusive restaurants, including the Stony Hill Inn.

The faculty union already was upset with Ryan over three appointments he allegedly made “without a search committee, as required by Middle State Commission of Higher Education and the State of New Jersey”: CLICK HERE FOR ‘No confidence’ vote pending

Students, meanwhile, were particularly upset over a cut in hours for those with work-study jobs. Until last summer, students were allowed to work as college employees up to 20 hours a week. It was cut to 15 hours, as was the wage — from close to $12 to the minimum wage of $7.75. Several of those affected are single mothers.

Ryan and Miller said they were forced into the moves by federal guidelines that limited how much a student could earn per semester. However, students reviewed the federal guidelines and couldn’t find such a requirement. This at first left all of those who‘d reached the threshhold out of work, according to letters sent to the students.

However, an undetermined number of those who immediately consulted the school’s Career and Transfer Center were able to keep their jobs.

“Demoting and firing student tutors and lab aids means less help is available during lab hours, and a student is more likely to go away and never come back if they have no help trying to solve a Flash or 3d animation problem,” one disgruntled faculty member told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Ryan was also accused of conducting new student elections after his preferences didn’t win, and of insisting that the school’s Child Development Center be closed.

“While these issues may seem as internal politics… it certainly will affect 18,000+ current students and all graduates of the past 40 years if a ‘No Confidence’ is announced as voted,” Yoel Weisshaus, a student representative, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Amid the turmoil are concerns about federal accreditation in BCC’s surgical nursing program, which supplies a significant number of nurses to hospitals in Bergen County. Without accreditation, their degrees cannot be certified.

Representatives of BCC’s faculty unions overwhelmingly approved drafting the censure motion against Ryan in early November, following a series of emergency meetings. But it didn’t come to a vote.

Instead, the faculty approved a Memorandum of Agreement that calls for “healthy discussions of issues and decisions that impact the campus community,” as well as “joint announcements when and where appropriate.”

Either Ryan or the president of the faculty union could call the other to speak on issues of concern, as well. Meetings were also required among the labor union representatives and BCC administrators.

Most importantly, perhaps, the MOA specifically mandates: “No surprises,” citing communication, input of everyone involved, analysis and deliberation of issues as necessary.

“All discussion in a civil, respectful manner,” it adds.

Six months have passed since then.

This may be the least of BCC’s troubles, however.

It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the federal scrutiny given the Bergen County Improvement Authority amid a mortgage fraud scandal could extend to the college, given the circumstances: Of $50 million worth of bonds sold during the improvement authority’s biggest year, more than half went toward the purchase of a building for BCC in the Meadowlands, even though the Rutherford campus of Felician College had been offered.

The chairman and former commissioner of the BCIA at the time was Ronald J. O’Malley, who was named this summer in a a 68-count federal mortgage fraud indictment returned against him and a partner of his Ridgewood firm.

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