On Monday, Garden City Community College’s Board of Trustees selected Kansas City attorney Greg Goheen to investigate the Faculty Senate’s allegations against GCCC President Herbert Swender.
The Faculty Senate presented a report to the trustees at their May meeting, detailing an alleged history of Swender bullying, intimidating, sexually harassing and retaliating against faculty members. The report called for Swender’s termination, claiming that his behavior and actions would threaten the school’s accreditation, currently on probation from the Higher Learning Commission.
At a special meeting the following week, the trustees decided to hire a third-party investigator to look into the Faculty Senate’s claims in the report.
Randy Grisell, the college’s attorney, conducted the search, and said he presented the credentials of several legal individuals and entities to the board for consideration. Grisell said the board ultimately chose Goheen because he had the background and experience necessary for the case.
“He’s very highly qualified. He has an expertise in every area that needs to be investigated, raised in the Faculty Senate’s complaint," Grisell said. "He’s a very highly respected attorney in Kansas and the area.".
Goheen, a shareholder at midwestern law firm McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A. and due process hearing officer for the Kansas Department of Education, has a background in education, civil rights and constitutional law, among over a dozen practice areas, according to his online MVP profile. He has represented clients in cases regarding many issues, including employment discrimination and professional liability, and worked for for-profit and not-for-profit entities.
Goheen has worked with organizations in and beyond his field. He’s acted as a mentor and tutor through Kansas City organizations, was named among the Best Lawyers in America in educational law and served as an adjunct instructor at Johnson County Community College.
Goheen said he did not know anyone involved in the investigation or at the college. Grisell said that besides answering Goheen’s questions or connecting him with people and documents he needed, he, the board and the college would not be involved in the investigation.
“Trust in his integrity and professionalism. The board certainly is not going to get involved and try to taint the investigation at all, nor am I,” Grisell said.
Goheen said Grisell recently gave him a copy of the Faculty Senate’s report and that it was too early in the process to estimate a timeline or lay out initial steps. He said he does plan on coming to Garden City for a portion of the investigation, but is unsure when.
“We’ll move forward and we’ll investigate the matter appropriately and as timely as we can,” Goheen said.
Goheen will charge his hourly rate of $260 throughout the investigation. He said at this point he was unsure how many hours he would work on the investigation in a week.
Grisell said he expected the board to sign a document detailing Goheen’s duties at the trustees’ June 12 meeting.
“I’ve been working with school districts, community colleges, governmental entities for 25 plus years and just have a lot of experience with dealing with different types of investigatory matters and claims. I should be able to bring the expertise for the better of everybody involved,” Goheen said.