EDUCATION

Community college faculty ramps up call for president’s ouster

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

On the quiet campus at Mercer County Community College, a battle is brewing. Some might say it’s already past boiling point.

“It is starting to feel like our college is falling apart from the inside,” said Dylan Wolfe, a representative from the Mercer County Community College Faculty Association.

This spring, the faculty union association voted no confidence of Mercer County Community College’s president, Jiangping Wang. Since then, members have grown increasingly frustrated with the school’s board of trustees, saying their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

“We asked for the appointment of an independent investigator. We asked for the appointment, or conduction of a complete forensic audit. We asked for, at minimum, a suspension of the president during that time,” Wolfe said.

Members of the faculty union cite a timeline, dating back to February 2019, with a long list of grievances that include lawsuits, allegations of racial discrimination, reasons behind the outgoing posts of top administration staffers, and the resignation of one longtime faculty member who accuses the president of forcing her to commit “unethical activities.”

NJTV News obtained a copy of the memo from Vice President of Academic Affairs’ Administrative Assistant Laureen Meyer. It details actions Meyers says the president personally asked her to take, like moving forward with paperwork for hiring staff the vice president of academic affairs hadn’t approved, and changing documents in his absence. Ultimately, she said Wang put her in situations that lead to her resignation.

“To me that’s major that she would go on record to say the actions of this president were unethical immoral,” said Alvyn Heywood, president of the Mercer County Community College Faculty Association.

Jim Gardner spoke on behalf of the president, but wouldn’t comment on the reasons behind that resignation or pending lawsuits, like those involving allegations of racial discrimination.

“Mercer County Community College promotes diversity and inclusion from the student level all the way up to the top administration level and likewise promotes transparency,” Gardner said.

The faculty union says President Wang, who joined the college in July 2015, acts unilaterally, alleging Wang makes decisions about curriculum, course schedules, and hiring that don’t follow the Middle States Commission on Higher Education concept of shared governance.

“The board right now is taking a look at those issues. We’ve already started some changes in place, I can’t say which changes they are right now, but we’ve already started to address those,” said Board of Trustees chair Mark Matzen.

Matzen instead says you only need to look at the numbers to understand the positive impact Wang has had since taking office.

“Almost all community colleges in New Jersey and across the country enrollment has declined, our enrollment has increased,” said Matzen.

The faculty says they’ll keep taking the fight public, until an investigation is launched.