6/12/96, Times Argus


By Robert Piasecki - Times Argus Staff

PLAINFIELD - Goddard College President Richard E. Greene strongly denied allegations that he specifically targeted critics and union organizers for recent job cuts.

Dr. Richard Greene
"The people who were let go were not targeted. I was not attempting to be political. This wasn't a question of good and bad," Greene said during an interview Tuesday.

Instead, Greene said the job cuts were based on criteria that was developed by the College Executive Committee (CEC) or the employees themselves during months of negotiations.

The CEC includes elected representatives of Goddard's faculty, staff, and students, as well as some of the colleges administrators.

The criteria for the job cuts included employees who had one-year contracts or those who had contracts that expired this year.

Greene said the decision to terminate all six part-time associate campus faculty members was based on a recommendation made by fulltime faculty members nearly a year ago.

Although the faculty rescinded that recommendation earlier this year, Greene said it had already been accepted by Goddard's board of trustees.

Greene said the CEC did recommend he follow a "last hired, first fired" policy for the job cuts. But Greene said that was just one of, many suggestions made by the CEC.

"I was told to use all of these as parameters for any job cuts, and that's what I did. I tried to stay within the spirit of the CEC's recommendations regarding job cuts," he said.

The CEC, Greene said, specifically rejected a proposal by some Goddard's employees to close the budget shortfall through voluntary wage and benefit reductions, or by increasing tuition.

Greene said he went over the list of personnel cuts with members of the Goddard Executive Committee, which includes members of the board of trustees.

"They felt it was a very painful situation, but that it was necessary," Greene said.

Last Wednesday. Greene announced that nine part-time and seven full-time employees were losing their jobs to balance the budget. Some of the people who were not offered new contracts were among Greene s strongest critics.

On Tuesday Greene also disputed claims that he is trying to crush efforts by faculty and staff at Goddard to form a union.

"I've told the employees several times that I don't have any problems with a union. Goddard has a rich history in supporting unions, but it's up to the board of trustees to decide what they want to do in terms of recognition," Greene said.

So far, Greene said he has reteived only an unsigned letter from some employees asking the board for voluntary recognition of the union.

Greene said he didn't consider the letter a formal request. Nevertheless, the board of trustees is expected to discuss the request at meetings that start Friday at the college.

Even if the board voluntarily voted to recognize the union this weekend, Greene said it would be some time before a contract is negotiated.

Either way, a decision by the board to recognize the union would have no impact on last week's job cuts, Green said.

Greene said there was nothing unusual about release forms the terminated employees were asked to sign before they received severance pay.

Some of the employees who lost their jobs last week said the release forms were essentially "gag orders" designed to prevent them from suing or criticizing Greene.

But Greene said they were standard release forms that simply protect the college from future law suits.

Greene also denied that he shut down the college's E-Mail on purpose last week to prevent employees from discussing the job cuts.

"Nothing was done deliberately," Greene said.

Finally, Greene said it is unlikely that the board of trustees will agree to reopen discussions about the job cuts at meetings on Friday and Saturday.

"We've already spent five months discussing these issues. There was an opportunity for the community to give input and many of them did;" Greene said.

The CEC met 19 times since the beginning of the year to discuss the budget, Greene said.

Greene said it is now up to board of trustees members to decide if they want to reopen discussions about next year's budget.

Some faculty members say they are planning to present the trustee's with an alternative budget for the college.

However, Greene said several alternative budgets were reviewed earlier this year by the CEC and members decided the alternative budgets were not feasible.

"The basic budget that was pro posed by the CEC is being sent to to the board with some. minor changes," Greene said.

A group of current and former Goddard employees is planning to hold a press conference today at 1:30 p.m. to discuss recent turmoil at the college.

Greene's critics say his administration is threatening Goddard's long tradition of progressive education by introducing a corporate management style.

In April the faculty issued a vote of no confidence in Greene and called for his resignation.

The board of trustees, however, released a statement early last, month strongly backing Greene.