Administrators and the Faculty Senate at Garden City Community College are seeking more information about alleged sexual harassment at the college after Trustee Terri Worf said she had been told some instructors may be having sex with students.
Worf brought up the allegations near the end of the Board of Trustees' discussion about employment contracts and monitoring reports, first asking how board policy addressed sexual harassment on campus. She proposed that the board discuss outlining sexual misconduct in board policies since it was not addressed in the campus’ sexual harassment policy.
She then asked if there was a policy barring faculty members or instructors from having sexual relations with students, to which she was told there is.
“I have had some individuals tell me there are instructors that do that,” Worf said.
No board members or administrators addressed the issue further and the meeting continued.
After the meeting, Worf refrained from elaborating on her comments.
Worf's comments came after the public comments portion of the meeting, where community member Toni Douglass asked why the board still hadn't addressed allegations of sexual harassment against former GCCC cheer coach Brice Knapp.
"Six months ago, plus one day, I stood up here in front of you all and told you about the women ... the complaints of sexual harassment. In that six months, not one of you has addressed it publicly. Not the sheriff's officer. Not the so-called man of God. Not the chiropractor who warned a cheerleader prior of the coach's antics. Not the two health professional women. None of you," Douglass said, indirectly addressing every trustee except Leonard Hitz.
Trustee Blake Wasinger of Wasinger Chiropractic and Acupuncture said afterward that the conversation Douglass claimed he had did not happen.
Faculty Senate President Phil Hoke said he had not heard anything about faculty members having sex with students, but that if it were true, it would be a serious issue that he would want to address. He said he planned on following up with Worf and was willing to be a faculty liaison while addressing such problems, if they existed.
Newly named Interim President Ryan Ruda said he did not know what Worf was referring to.
“We look into everything that we’re knowledgeable and aware of,” Ruda said.
During the meeting, the board asked GCCC attorney Randy Grisell for an update on the investigation into allegations regarding the college that were made in May by the Faculty Senate.
In June, the board retained Kansas City attorney Greg Goheen to investigate the claims made in a report the Faculty Senate presented to the board at its May meeting. The report accused former GCCC President Herbert Swender of misconduct and fostering a toxic work environment and addressed allegations involving Knapp and former Athletic Director John Green, as well as concerns about National American University and the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process, among other issues.
Grisell said he expected the investigation to be completed within 30 days. He said Goheen had been delayed because he had trouble finding people to interview.
Garden City attorney Bob Lewis, who is representing eight GCCC students, employees and community members, said he and Shawnee attorney Jean Lamfers had sent a letter to Goheen weeks ago telling the investigator that their clients were willing to speak at any time. Lewis said in the letter that he also mentioned 20 other people connected to the college who would be willing to speak to Goheen.
Lewis and Lamfers never heard back from Goheen, said Lewis, adding that their clients were waiting for a call.
Ruda named interim
The board named Ruda interim president of the college Tuesday, though he will continue to serve as vice president of instruction and student services.
According to Ruda’s contract as interim president, he will serve in the position from Aug. 15, the day after he was officially approved as acting president in the search for an interim, until the board selects a new president, and will receive a $2,000 boost in his salary per month over that period to compensate him for his extra duties. Either Ruda or the board can terminate his contract as president at any time.
Jacqueline Messinger, GCCC dean of instructional effectiveness, addressed the board’s discussion of the selection process during her HLC report, saying from an accreditation standpoint, it was important the college follow proper processes and consider all available candidates when searching for a president.
“It’s for the protection of you, as well as the institution and the candidates that a search is conducted. It would more improper for you to just say ‘Ryan, you’re it.’ … This is not something that is out of order or unusual. That latitude is there for the best interest of the institution (and) the community…” Messinger said.
Ruda said he was glad for the opportunity to move the college forward, hoping to “stabilize” the college internally, work with external stakeholders to build partnerships and grow enrollment.
“It’s not something that’s going to be found in the short duration of time…” Ruda said of the college’s stability. “Trust is something that develops through actions. It can’t be developed through words. A lot of that is just going to happen from a lot of the action, being visible and communication…”
Ruda said he does plan to apply for the president position.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.