The Garden City Community College Board of Trustees broached the subject of nepotism Tuesday when discussing the board’s pending approval of new hires, specifically regarding the position of Athletic Director Greg McVey’s wife, Amy, as executive assistant to the president.

Trustee Leonard Hitz asked to discuss the item separately as the board considered their June consent agenda, asking whether the hire would constitute as nepotism since Amy McVey would work for the office to which her husband reports.

“I think we’re getting a little bit close to a situation of nepotism, possibly conflicts of interest. I’ve been married long enough to know husbands and wives talk and husbands do have to listen,” Hitz said. “I do not know any one of these people. It is not anything personal. It is just the fact that I think we need to have more of a guideline on nepotism and conflicts of interest.”

Greg and Amy McVey would both report to Ruda. Because neither would report to or be overseen by the other, Ruda argued that Amy McVey’s hire would not fall under the definition of nepotism. Trustee Crist later agreed.

Ruda said each position was opened and filled separately and according to college policy. Both McVeys were “hired as individuals,” he said. When Trustee Merilyn Douglass asked the “elephant in the room question,” as she called it — did GCCC promise Amy McVey any position at the institution should her husband take the job? — Ruda reiterated that the two new hires were interviewed separately.

Ruda clarified Wednesday in a text message that Amy McVey “was not promised any position.”

Trustee Chair Blake Wasinger said he had sat in on both interviews and agreed that the processes were conducted separately. With oversight, Wasinger said, he did not expect any problems. Regardless, Hitz said he thought the board’s nepotism policy, which is so far nonexistent, should be clarified.

“When you start putting more stuff in (the board’s policy governance), it becomes more restrictive and that restricts Dr. Ruda’s ability to lead our college. And I think it’s a slippery slope,” Wasinger said.

Douglass said she would research the foundation for the board’s policy governance regarding nepotism and Wasinger and Trustee Steve Martinez said the board could discuss the policy at a board retreat next month. Hitz said he would stand by whatever the board decides.

The board approved the list of new hires in a 5-1 vote, with Hitz dissenting.

 

Public comment and closing terms

Later in the meeting, Hitz addressed the board again, this time about the trustees’ suspended public comments portion of their meetings. After hearing public concerns, he said he thinks it is time to bring the element back to meetings. The board suspended the oft-used portion of the meeting in February after discussing the change with Ruda.

Wasinger said Hitz’s comments were the first he had heard anyone complain about the comments portion since the initial suspension. The public should reach out to all board members in person or via email if they have any concerns, he said. Wasinger and Ruda said the public comments portion will return to meetings, but neither knew when the board would discuss lifting the suspension.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s when,” Ruda said.

And Trustees Crist, Martinez and Terri Worf responded to why they chose not to run again for the board. Worf said she will have served the board 15 years when she steps down in December and “it’s just time” to leave. Crist, who sat on the board for eight years, said he decided not to run again in part to spend more time with his family, among other reasons he did not want to discuss.

Martinez said he was leaving after his first term to give someone else a chance and because events regarding the board last year “took its toll” on his family and affected his work as a full-time Finney County sheriff's officer.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.