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Length of interim NIC role debated

by HANNAH NEFF Hagadone News Network
| November 25, 2021 1:00 AM

The process to select a president for North Idaho College is on hold.

Maybe a long hold.

The board of trustees voted Monday night to table the selection for a presidential search firm until an unspecified time before the end of the year. They entertained the idea of keeping the interim for a longer period of time than traditional.

Vice President of Student Services Graydon Stanley said usually new leadership would be in place by June as the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

“Interims are generally intended to be short term filling gaps, and so when (the community) can see plans in place for permanently making changes, there's a lot of security that comes with that,” Stanley said Tuesday. “I think we should move forward.”

Board chair Todd Banducci said he would like to see the interim in place longer. Banducci said the timing of the switch was unwise as NIC is due to give an ad-hoc report on Aug. 1 to the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The report follows a complaint filed by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations and the human rights task forces for Bonner, Boundary and Spokane counties on March 12, which put NIC’s accreditation under review by the NWCCU. It will focus on the college’s governance and administration leadership.

Banducci said he would like to spend the next eight months putting together the report and give Sebaaly a year to make the college look stable.

“We just gave you the report and said, ‘Hey, we're in great shape, but now we're just gonna change the very thing at the top,’” Banducci said Monday night. “To me, that makes no sense.”

Stanley said he didn’t think the board should wait for the ad-hoc report to select a president.

“You could have a new president on board at the time that that response is made, but everybody understands that that president doesn't come with the history of the institution,” Stanley said. “Regardless of whether there's the same president or a new president, the things that are being addressed will continue to occur regardless.”

Trustees Christie Wood and Ken Howard opposed the delay of selecting a presidential search firm, although Wood voted for the motion to put a timeline on the process.

The delay also goes against the wishes of former acting president and Vice President of Instruction Lita Burns. In October, Burns urged trustees to make a decision during Monday's meeting.

In the resolution signed by the board to commemorate the terms and conditions under which Burns was employed as acting President, Burns included as a condition that the board will immediately request the college to engage in a search process for a new president. That would be consistent with past practices.

Burns said at the October meeting it was important for the board to move forward with selecting a search firm so NIC could have a president as soon as possible.

Tony Stewart, a founding member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations and former NIC political science professor, said typically the process to select a president takes less than a year. Stewart said he supports the tradition that has been around for decades.

Stanley said it helps students, employees and the community see the board move forward to bring about permanency and stability.

“I think it's important that the board stay with the commitment that they made to immediately begin a presidential search,” Stanley said. “The campus is already anxious about the number of changes that have been made, or have occurred recently.”

Sebaaly, the head wrestling coach, was voted in 3-2as interim president of the college on Oct. 25, after the firing without cause of former president Rick MacLennan.