Depending on whom you ask, Hocking College is thriving or dying.
President Betty Young says “It’s pretty difficult to argue with our success,” pointing to campus renovations, new programs, and the increased diversity of the student population under her tenure.
But employees and students have raised concerns about her administration almost since she first stepped on campus in 2014. A 2015 petition called for the ouster of Young and other administrators and 92% of faculty and professional staff cast votes of “no confidence” in Young in 2016—the fourth such vote Young faced during her career.
The petition and the no confidence vote allege that Young and her administrators have cut experienced full-time faculty in favor of less qualified part-time adjuncts; canceled classes and programs with little or no warning; and created a “hostile” and “toxic” work environment, among other charges.
Those complaints continue to arise on “4 the LOVE of Hocking College,” a private Facebook group comprising more than 100 current and former college employees.
A group administrator said group members are united around shared goals: supporting “current employees who must endure the erratic and volatile actions of the current senior administration,” exchanging “factual information that can be used to ethically oust the worst and most toxic senior administrators,” and saving Hocking College from a “path of certain demise” to support student success.
Members of the group recently backed an attempt to replace three members of the Hocking College Board of Trustees, covered by the Independent here.
The Independent spoke with five group members, all of whom are former Hocking College employees:
- Mark Riley, who resigned from his position as cybersecurity professor and eSports coach in August. Riley said the incident that triggered his resignation was a substantial reduction in his salary that was not communicated to him by college administrators, and which he noticed on his paychecks.
- Brian Alloway, who worked as an assistant professor and the glass program director at Hocking College beginning in 2008. In 2020, Alloway—then president of the Hocking College Education Association—filed an unfair labor practice charge against the college after he was let go. An arbiter determined he was wrongfully terminated. He was briefly reinstated—but his program and position were eliminated shortly thereafter.
- Micah Covert, who held several positions at the college before being laid off in 2020. At that time, he was director of first year experience and diversity and inclusion.
- Two women who asked to remain anonymous, citing concern for their careers; both held high-level leadership positions at the college. One administers the group.
All five cited a wide range of concerns echoing the petition and no confidence vote from years prior. Members also pinned ongoing declines in enrollment and staffing on what they described as Young’s mismanagement.
“[Young] has created the most toxic work culture I have ever seen in my life, and it’s embarrassing for our community,” said Covert.
Young says complaints are a combination of sour grapes and sexism.
“I’ve been a president for almost 20 years and over that time period, we’ve had to make a lot of very difficult decisions,” she said. “Anytime you do that, you’re gonna have somebody who’s not happy. And so it’s not unusual or uncommon for people when they’re unhappy, to go after people that they’re unhappy with.”
She added, “There is a sense that you can sort of attack a woman leader in a different way, and that it’ll be supported more than if you might do the same thing to a male leader.”
Hocking College board members said they had “full confidence” in Young in 2016 and that continues, said member Stuart Brooks.
“She’s doing what’s right to get this college back on stable ground, and she has the full confidence of the board,” Brooks said.
Look for the Independent’s investigation into data on Hocking College staffing and enrollment later this month.
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