College president disappointment called ‘misunderstanding’

Yukon College employees felt “suckered” and were “furious” after the board of governors flew three presidential candidates to…

Yukon College employees felt “suckered” and were “furious” after the board of governors flew three presidential candidates to the territory, and then appointed the acting president to the post.

“The overwhelming feeling is one of betrayal,” wrote Yukon College’s Employees’ Union acting president Tim Topper in a letter to board of governors chair Clarence Timmons.

There is a process for presidential selection in the college’s collective agreement.

The contract states a selection committee must shortlist and interview candidates and make a recommendation to the board of governors. This was not done in Weninger’s case.

 “Some members are disappointed, many feel suckered and some are furious,” wrote Topper.

The letter was sent Tuesday — the day after the college issued a rosy news release announcing Terry Weninger’s appointment.

Eight days ago, the feeling at the college was largely positive, wrote Topper.

There were three candidates. The union met each one, and employees felt like they were included in the process.

Then came the “shocking” announcement of Weninger’s hire.

Weninger was not one of the three presidential candidates, but he was appointed to a three-year term.

“It was a bit of a misunderstanding on the process,” said Weninger.

“As far as we’re concerned, it has been settled,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.

The search for a new president began in January.

The selection committee, headed by Weninger, recommended three candidates for the board of governors to consider.

After flying each candidate up to the Yukon for a two-hour in-person interview, the board chose the man it deemed “best suited for the position.”

“The board felt that one candidate fitted what the board was looking for,” said Timmons on Thursday.

The other two did not.

Up until May 4, the board thought the candidate would accept. But he ultimately declined for family reasons.

“When faced with the sudden withdrawal of the selected candidate, we reached out to Dr. Weninger, who, although he was planning to retire, agreed to help us out by staying on,” Timmons wrote in a letter to Yukon College staff dated Wednesday.

“For this, the board is grateful.”

Timmons had “no idea” how much the college spent to bring the three candidates to the Yukon.

Timmons’ response does not settle all of the employees’ concerns, said Topper on Friday morning.

“We’re at a pause — we’re all looking for a way forward,” he said.

Topper hopes to meet with board reps and the new president over the next few days to find a solution.

Weninger was president of the College of New Caledonia from 1990 to 2004.

Prior to that position, he was vice-president of Medicine Hat College and has served as the Yukon’s deputy minister of Education and deputy minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

Among other things, Weninger’s goals include: building a marketing plan to boost enrolment, developing an outdoor education program from the college’s Haines Junction campus, and growing the Visual Arts School in Dawson

Weninger’s term ends in June 2010.