Northeast State students weigh in on vote of 'no confidence' for president


BLOUNTVILLE, TN - An investigation into the dispute between faculty and president at Northeast State Community College is underway. This comes after more than two-thirds of the faculty cast a vote of no confidence in the college president, Dr. Janice Gilliam.

On Thursday the Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs state community colleges, is interviewing staff and faculty. Complaints about the presideng include alleged mismanagement of funds and a failure to communicate with faculty. According to a member of the faculty senate, the findings from the investigation are expected in the next few weeks.

Both the faculty and the president have expressed that they want what's best for the students. So we spoke to students about what they know and how they think the controversy affects them.

Most of the students we talked to on campus have little to no knowledge of the vote of no confidence or what it means. Those who do know said they got the news as an announcement from professors at the beginning of class.

"She had just said that there was going to be a vote for the president of the school about having no confidence in her and how she ran the school, and that's all we've known," said sophomore Hannah White.

Some said the issue isn't a priority right now.

"It's still on my email account," said sophomore Vicki Jennings. "I focus on school work and my home life."

Students said the most visible issue for them is with technology policy. At the beginning of the year they were told they needed to use iPads for in-class work and access to electronic reading material. The faculty senate lists that as one of the issues that was made without their input. Students had mixed feelings about the decision.

"Personally that has been an improvement to me," said sophomore Gloria Bridges. "Using the iPad, and incorporating different learning materials, and apps, and e-books. I think that is a good change for the college."

"They told me I had to have an iPad so I forked over $200 last semester that I really needed for my car," said sophomore Brian Layher.

A sense of frustration can be felt by some in their professors.

"Usually when asked about iPads they'll say, 'I'm supposed to tell you that we need them but we're probably not going to use them,' is the response I usually get," sophomore Jared McKinney said.

Meanwhile other students I talked to said they have an understanding of the dispute but their confidence in the president remains.

"She has done a lot here at the school since she's been here, and she's really tried to get the school in the technology age," said Austin Bridges.