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Originally published February 25, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 25, 2005 at 8:39 AM

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Shoreline CC leader under fire

After a year of prickly relations between the faculty and the administration at Shoreline Community College, faculty members voted no confidence...

Seattle Times staff reporter

After a year of prickly relations between the faculty and the administration at Shoreline Community College, faculty members voted no confidence in school President Holly Moore.

The results were announced at Wednesday's Board of Trustees meeting. Faculty members criticized what they described as Moore's poor performance, top-down communication style and unfair treatment of faculty.

Yesterday the trustees issued a statement in support of the president.

"The board is united in expressing our complete confidence in Dr. Holly Moore and in her leadership," according to the statement.

Moore, in an interview, said she recognized "how difficult this was for the faculty," and she said, "I'm dedicated to developing a variety of methods to improve communication and improve the campus climate."

About 41 percent of the Faculty Senate membership took part in the no-confidence vote. Of the ballots sent in, 77 percent of those voting, or 121 faculty members, submitted a vote of no confidence. Twenty-six gave a vote of confidence while 9 abstained. "There is a question of the direction of the college, and concerns about poor communication and leadership," said Tim Payne, chairman of the Faculty Senate. "People are questioning her ability to lead the college."

The board appointed Moore interim president in 2000, after previous President Gary Oertli resigned after allegations that he helped steer a lucrative college contract to a friend's company. Oertli agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and reimburse the state Executive Ethics Board $10,000 in investigation costs. Moore was hired as president after a search.

The friction began in fall of 2003, when a campuswide meeting was held with the theme of doing more with less, faculty said. An inspirational speaker from Ghana told participants they should be happy just to have shoes, according to faculty. Some thought the message of the meeting was disrespectful. Moore said she felt it challenged the campus to think about things differently.

A year later, under the impression that Moore was a finalist for a job in Nevada, the Board of Trustees voted to give her a $25,000 raise as an incentive to stay. The state auditor board later found that the trustees had violated open-meetings law when they met to discuss and award the raise.

In the meantime, faculty members said news reports in Nevada indicated Moore had actually been dropped from the list of finalists, according to a report of grievances the Faculty Senate sent to the president and the board in December. Moore said her Shoreline contract was up for renegotiation, and she and three other people were interviewed in Nevada.

The report, obtained by The Seattle Times, also charged that Moore has fostered a culture of favoritism, maintained a double standard for faculty versus administration and has poor communication skills.

Promotions were given for jobs that weren't posted, according to the report, and favors, such as professional-development tuition stipends, seemed to be granted to Moore's supporters while others have had to go through formal channels. The administration and faculty seem to operate on two different tiers with different standards, the report said.

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"For example, when staff and faculty retire they get a joint reception on campus with donated cake," the report said. "When a senior administrator recently retired (after 6 years here), the farewell party was at the Columbia Tower Club."

Moore said the college did not pay for the Columbia Tower party — friends and family did — and that the promotions she made filled a need. She gave the tuition to a faculty member who an accreditation committee had advised to seek a higher degree, she said.

The report questioned the benefit of the college's administrative travel — for example, teams were sent to China, and Moore created two executive vice-president positions because of the significant time she has spent in Washington, D.C., lobbying for an amendment to the Higher Education Act.

Moore said most of her travel is reimbursed by the people she works with on her trips. The two positions were added by promoting two people from within at a cost of only $2,500, she said. The Board of Trustees, according to its statement, will work with Moore to develop plans to address the campus concerns.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

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