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Explain Turmoil At Local College

The sooner someone talks about why Eastern Gateway Community College’s two top officials were placed on administrative leave, the better.

On Tuesday, employees of the college in Steubenville were told EGCC President Jimmie Bruce and Vice President and Chief of Staff Jim Miller have been placed on administrative leave. “Further details will be forthcoming after our board of trustees meets on Jan. 15,” board Chairman James M. Gasior commented in the written notification.

Gasior added that Chief Financial Officer Mike Geoghegan “will be assuming additional duties,” at least temporarily.

One clue to the situation may lie in an August vote of no confidence in Bruce, by the EGCC faculty. Details on that were never released, except that some faculty sources said a “list of concerns and grievance-worthy items” had been presented to the trustees board.

Another clue may be in a comment made by Gina Augustine, who is interim co-leader of the EGCC chapter of the Ohio Education Association. “We’ll let the investigators figure out what is going on with the leadership,” she said of the action involving Bruce and Miller.

It would be neither prudent nor just to read too much into either of those clues. Still, something serious is afoot at EGCC.

It is not the only area institution of higher learning embroiled in leadership turmoil.

Last year, amid severe financial difficulties at Wheeling University, that institution’s president, Michael Mihalyo Jr., and senior vice president, Joseph Petrella, were placed on administrative leave. University officials selected Ginny Favede as the new president.

Mihalyo and Petrella promptly filed a lawsuit against Wheeling University, alleging dishonesty about the institution’s financial condition.

Even the potential for lawsuits tends to make public officials — and EGCC is a public college — leery of commenting in situations such as that involving Bruce and Miller. Still, students, donors and the community are due some explanation of why they were placed on leave. Let us hope the trustees provide it immediately after their meeting on Jan. 15.

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