Triton College won't honor fired dean's contract

National search underway for his replacement

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By BILL DWYER

The Triton College Board of Trustees, which formally fired Arts and Sciences Dean Edmund Forst at its June board meeting, has stated that it will not honor his 2007 employment contract.

After the Landmark contacted President Patricia Granados' office seeking comment on Forst's status, Triton's Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marge Stabile called back Aug. 14 and read a prepared statement from the college.

"Ed Forst was terminated on Tuesday, June 20, 2006," she read. "He is no longer employed at Triton College. "There will be no payout on his contract. There's no further comment."

Pressed for elaboration, Stabile said, "It's a personnel issue. As a college, we believe we've done what needs to be done."

Forst, who previously said he was waiting to see what actions Triton planned to take regarding his contract, would not comment further after hearing the news.

"There might be litigation, so I can't comment right now," he said.

Maggie Hahn-Wade, president of the Triton Faculty Association, said on Aug. 15 that the reasons for Forst's firing remain a mystery hidden behind the school's contention that it is a personnel matter and exempt from disclosure.

"Since the administration won't talk about anything related to personnel issues, [who knows]?" said Hahn-Wade. "There's nothing I can imagine that he's done that could cause them to dismiss him."

Forst is apparently proving difficult to replace. Triton has gone through at least two interim deans since Forst's dismissal in May. A third person, retired Triton humanities professor John Fry, stepped into the role last week.

At its July 18 meeting the Triton board approved an agreement with the American Association of Community Colleges Executive Search of Coral Gables, Fla., to conduct a comprehensive, national search for Forst's replacement. Part of that agreement is that the costs for the search are not to exceed $30,000.

Hahn-Wade said she found it curious that the Triton administration was spending the money to conduct a nationwide search for Forst's replacement, given Triton's recently announced budget shortfall and the history of the board in simply appointing top administrators.

"The reality is that having someone come in and help with the hiring process can be a good thing," she said. "But to do it now with this particular position [isn't consistent with recent practice].

"I find it ironic that we chose to do this with an [open] dean's position, as opposed to all the positions that have just been appointed."

Those positions include the vice president's office, to which Ilean Rodriguez was appointed to by Granados after the president disbanded a faculty search committee.

Hahn-Wade also scoffed at reported comments made by Triton Board Chairman Mark Stephens at the July board meeting equating the retention of the search firm with the practice of shared governance. Hahn-Wade's assistant, Faculty Association Vice President Debra Baker, related to her that Stephens had made that link in comments during that meeting.

"I don't see the relation to shared governance at all," said Hahn-Wade.

The issue of shared governance has been a major point of contention between Triton's board of trustees and administration and the college's Faculty Association.

Key administrators continue to leave Triton. Three weeks ago, the official who escorted Forst off campus in May resigned. Vice President of Human Resources Chuck Martin took a job at another community college, according to Hahn-Wade.

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