Students, staff, faculty call for Rochester college president's removal

Leslie McClellon
President Leslie McClellon.
Courtesy of Rochester Community and Technical College

Faculty, staff and students at Rochester Community and Technical College are calling for the ouster of President Leslie McClellon.

Unions representing faculty and staff, as well as the student association, sent an open letter this week to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system saying there is "grave concern" over President McClellon's administration.

"In her 18 months as president," the letter says, "her management has harmed virtually every corner of the campus."

The letter was signed by the Minnesota State College Faculty, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4001, and the Minnesota State College Student Association.

McClellon declined an interview request but released a statement saying she had received a copy of the letter and was "encouraged by the groups and individuals who are taking the time to dialogue with us in order to address the issues."

She came to Rochester 18 months ago following a stint as vice president of student affairs at the Community College of Denver.

The letter cites concerns with her spending on the college's recent centennial celebration, including $20,000 for a jazz band, $15,000 for sound, lights and video screens, and $10,000 for an academic mace and golden chain of office. The complaints also include her hiring practices for some senior administrative positions, an athletic director and a vice president of student affairs.

The letter calls for stronger leadership given the school's $800,000 budget deficit and possible risks to its accreditation status.

"Without quick and decisive change, we fear McClellon's administration will irreparably harm the reputation of RCTC, lower the quality of education we offer our students and alienate our community partners," the letter said.

Minnesota State College Faculty Union spokesperson Darci Stanford said the faculty wants a change in leadership.

"The faculty have really, at least from our perspective, have tried to make this relationship successful, have tried to provide guidance, educating about how the system works and how things work on the campus, and they are just starting to feel that it's been dead end after dead end after dead end," Stanford said.

Besides her position in Denver, McClellon held positions at Arizona Western College and Langston University, her alma mater, where she received a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in urban education.

In a separate statement, MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said he was aware of the concerns that have been expressed, but he gave no indication of any steps the administration might take in response.

The faculty union's Darci Stanford said the dispute is now in the hands of MnSCU's administration. "They need to take the next step," Stanford said. "They're the ones that supervise her and employ her and so they're the ones that need to make the next move in all of this."

Stanford said MnSCU representatives will likely schedule meetings with McClellon and the various student and faculty groups in the coming weeks to seek a remedy for the disputes.

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