High-level staff shake-up rattles EvCC instructors

EVERETT – A decision to reassign Everett Community College’s instructional leader has stunned faculty members, who asked tough questions Thursday of the college’s president, Charlie Earl.

Earl met with instructors and other staff members two days after sending an e-mail announcing that he was reassigning Stu Barger, the college’s vice president of instruction.

Barger will become a special assistant to Earl once his replacement is found sometime in the next school year.

“It has shaken the institution to its core,” said Lolly Smith, an English instructor.

“There’s a feeling that it’s fixing something that isn’t broken, and that raises a lot of questions,” said Earl Brown, an aviation instructor.

Many EvCC staff members praised Barger for supporting their individual programs and rallying them to take on responsibilities outside their job descriptions.

Earl said he made the decision for a variety of reasons, including the increasing workload of the job, a difference in styles and Barger falling short of expectations in areas Earl would not discuss.

The reassignment was not the first administrative shake-up this year.

Pat McClain, vice president of community relations, and Chuck Morrison, the college’s foundation director, both lost their jobs in the reorganize. Those jobs were consolidated into a single position, vice president of college advancement.

“I feel I am sort of in an earthquake zone” and there have been more tremors, said Tom Gaskin, a history instructor. “It just creates a certain amount of jitters – and I am a faculty member with tenure.”

Elizabeth Henry, a member of EvCC’s enrollment services department, said the personnel change has been hard to swallow, but she added that it is important to have faith in college leadership.

“Even in disagreements, there should be reverence,” she said.

When asked Thursday if he would have preferred to stay in his current position, Barger said, “Probably.”

“There were initiatives that were started. I would like to see how they turn out,” he said.

However, Earl and Barger said the new assignment is a significant executive post.

“If I believed this was a made-up job to get the spotlight off (the college), I would have gone back to being a faculty member,” Barger said.

Earl said he would “reject as vehemently as I can” the perception that the move was a way “to put Stu out on a shelf.”

Among other things, Barger will work to build partnerships and get businesses to invest more in instructional programs, such as the college’s nursing and health care programs, and training for future Boeing jobs.

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