Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Faculty Votes To Oust Northern Marianas College President
Accused of mismanaging finances, unethical hiring practices

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 17, 2012) – Faculty members of the Northern Marianas College have reportedly lost trust and confidence in the leadership of president Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., after an overwhelming majority gave her a vote of "no confidence" Friday morning.

Saipan Tribune learned that the voting was held at 9am at room J1 Building during an assembly that saw the attendance of 23 full-time faculty members.

College sources disclosed that 19 attendees voted no confidence in the president; two expressed support for Hart; and two abstained from voting. The votes were cast in a "secret ballot" during the Friday assembly.

The results of the voting will be formally submitted by the Faculty Senate president to the Board of Regents (BOR), which in turn will review the matter.

As of yesterday, acting BOR chair Elaine Orilla told Saipan Tribune that no document has been filed with the BOR so "I cannot comment on something I am not aware of."

Regent Andrew Orsini also declined to comment for now until "both sides" of the issue are heard.

Efforts to obtain comments from Hart failed.

According to faculty members who attended the assembly, the no-confidence vote against the president was due to several reasons. Among these is alleged "financial mismanagement" after the faculty found out that Hart spent in fiscal year 2011 alone over $200,000 for off-island travels using students' tuition and fees, excluding official travel funded by federal funds.

Hart, according to sources, was also criticized for violating college procurement regulations when she authorized the procurement of 10 computers from an off-island "vendor" without proper bidding. These equipment, described as secondhand computers, cost about $4,000.

The president was also accused of "unethical" actions involving the hiring of her husband, Steven West, as a short-term consultant for the college's new foundation. He was paid about $14,000 for a five-week project.

According to some faculty members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the president also continues to ignore recommendations of the accreditation report that specifically requires the hiring of a chief financial officer, a position that has yet to be filled.

NMC was slapped with a continued show-cause status by the accrediting commission after it failed to address all deficiencies cited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The commission will decide on the fate of the college in January 2013.

Hart was hired as NMC president in July 2011. She was approved a two-year contract of $80,000 annual pay excluding benefits. The contract can be terminated without cause.

Hart replaced Dr. Carmen Fernandez, who was terminated form her position. The NMC faculty also gave Fernandez a no-confidence vote in December 2009.

Saipan Tribune
Copyright 2012 Saipan Tribune. All Rights Reserved

Go back to Pacific Islands Report