I've cautioned before in this column against taking anonymous postings as the truth and forwarding them on without fact checking them yourself. Oddly, on the day that students graduate from McCook and North Platte Community college, another one has raised its ugly head; this one in the form of a letter. It was mailed to the Mid-Plains College Board of Directors, the Nebraska Community College Association, the Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Mid-Plains Community College Area media contacts. It's almost two pages long and it attacks the CEO vacancy announcement, the Mid-Plains Board of Governors and, in particular, the Board President, Elizabeth Benjamin.
One of the inalienable rights Americans have is to voice their opinions but those very opinions are called into question when the criticism comes from an anonymous source, as this one does. The letter accuses the board of wanting to become more personally involved with the daily operations of the college, especially the Board president who is a former long-term faculty member at MCC. Former employees serving on the Board is presented as being a "bad scenario" and has become "a very real problem." The letter specifically criticizes changing the position of President into Chief Executive Officer which makes it an administrative post rather than an academic one. The letter is simply signed "A concerned group of MPCC employees."
Over the past 15 years, I have, from time to time, criticized the board and the administration for some of the decisions they've made that made no sense to me. I thought the criticisms were fair, they were made directly, and they were made from a reference point of being a faculty member at this college. I was sometimes criticized for my positions because everyone knew who was making them. My name, picture and e-mail address is on every column I write. But the criticisms never went beyond just being a criticism because that's the way it's supposed to be in a free, democratic society.
For that reason, I don't see the letter described above as being worthy of seeing the light of day. The "critics" didn't have the nerve to identify themselves and because of the way the letter was signed, ALL employees of MPCC fall under suspicion. I haven't heard the kind of criticisms offered in this letter from anyone at MCC so after I read the letter, I called the Faculty Association President in North Platte and he said he wasn't aware of the letter either.
Because of its ambiguity, maybe it's not "a concerned group of MPCC employees." Maybe it's just one or two. Or maybe it's not any employees at all. There's no way of knowing. I just know that I gave my support to the naming of the interim Vice-President of MCC when that appointment was made, as well as supporting the person named as interim President. Both people are well-liked and respected on the McCook campus and most of the people I talked to believed they would do a good job and we've seen no reason to back away from that initial assumption.
So does that mean the letter came from North Platte rather than from McCook and are they upset that Elizabeth Benjamin is a former faculty member at MCC which would pit McCook against North Platte? Once again we don't know. The two campuses have had their divisions before but, for the most part, we get along well and work together for the common good of everybody, which we recently did again in negotiations for our new contract.
I'm writing about this today because even if you haven't heard of the letter yet, you soon would have because things like this aren't kept secret for long, especially when the mailing list was as long as the one listed. I believed that the people of the region should know that there is no uprising among MPCC employees and no general disgruntlement on our part either. We continue to love our college, support our administrators and board of governors and do everything we can to make our campuses places of higher learning and achievement.
That's our goal and our mission and the only purpose this anonymous letter serves is to detract from that.