Scott Morgan has been named interim president of Green River College.
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously 5-0 on July 28 to hire the former president of Spokane Community College to temporarily replace Eileen Ely, who resigned from Green River on June 16.
The board met in a special executive session for about 50 minutes before making the appointment. Trustees Linda Cowan and Sharonne Navas participated in the meeting via telephone.
Morgan began his duties at Green River on Monday and will serve until June 30, 2017. He will make an annual prorated salary of $200,000.
Ely made $206,000 a year, and was a paid $286,000 settlement when she stepped down following months of unrest on campus. She was hired in 2010 as the college’s fourth president.
During the past several weeks, Board of Trustees chair Claudia Kauffman and vice chair Tim Clark interviewed four candidates to fill the position. Marshall Sampson, vice president of human resources and legal affairs, and Shirley Bean, vice president of business affairs, shared the duties of acting president since Ely’s departure.
“All four of the candidates, first off, were well aware of the fact we have struggled in recent years,” Clark said. “All four of the candidates really were quite open to trying to rebuild that necessary conversation with students, staff and faculty in terms of building mutual respect in moving forward in a direction that is going to help us deal with changes that we face.”
Clark said Morgan has a proven track record of problem solving.
Morgan was president of Spokane Community College from 2012 until his retirement in 2015. He also served as the chief executive officer for the Institute for Extended Learning, as well as chief operations officer.
“He had encountered campuses that had struggled with various issues,” Clark said. “He had worked on communications, is the type of person you find relatively easy to engage in conversations. I think more important than all that, flat out my general impression of him is he is a straight shooter. He is going to lay it out, and he is going to tell you what he’s thinking. If you don’t agree he is going to listen but you are going to understand what he saw as the critical issue and how we have to approach it.”
Trustee Pete Lewis said Morgan’s appointment will allow the college to focus on the search for a permanent president.
“I really appreciate the fact that this individual is looking at setting the stage for the long-term president to come in so that we have the time to go through and do the search that needs to be done where we can really look for an individual that is going to match our unique need and have the kind of conversations across the campus about who we want, why do we need he or she, what are their qualities going to be,” Lewis said. “This individual is going to help us get through this process.”
Jamie Fitzgerald, chair of Green River’s English division, spoke to the board following the appointment.
“I would just urge you, I am near begging, please capture this moment, the opportunity we have, this amazing opportunity to get back on track,” he said.
Even with new leadership, the board has to take the lead to repair campus relations, Fitzgerald said.
“It has to come from you first,” he said. “This interim president can’t come in and solve these problems unless he is directed by you, his supervisors, to actively engage with faculty, staff and student on campus. If we want to move forward in any substantive and meaningful way there has to be a true and genuine and meaningful commitment to transparency.”
In the weeks since Ely’s resignation, administrators announced the elimination of four programs at the college, upsetting faculty and students.
“It has been disheartening to see we are going ahead with program cuts especially since many of us fill that process has not been transparent,” Fitzgerald said. “In fact many of us feel that process has been broken from the start.”