Gadsden State Community College President placed on leave - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Gadsden State Community College President placed on leave

Raymond Staats. Source: WBRC video/GSCC Raymond Staats. Source: WBRC video/GSCC
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video

More than two months after a faculty and staff "no confidence" vote, the president of Gadsden State Community College (GSCC) has been replaced.

A news release from the office of Alabama Two-Year College System Chancellor Mark Heinrich, says Ray Staats has been placed on "paid administrative leave," and that William Blow will assume the duties as interim president August 1.

"We are excited that Dr. Blow has agreed to provide leadership for Gadsden State Community College once again," Dr. Heinrich said in the press release. "His vast experience as an educator and administrator, and his familiarity with Gadsden State, will serve us well as he takes on this important role at the school."

The news release does not give a reason for Staats' departure and GSCC public relations personnel say they were told not to comment.

However, the move comes after a vote in May by GSCC faculty and staff, both part time and full time, at all three campuses in Gadsden, Anniston and Centre. That vote resulted in 89 percent voting "no confidence" in Staats.

George Terrell, a history instructor who heads the Gadsden State Employees Association, says the move is a "relief."

"You have to know this was major, or this kind of thing would not have taken place," Terrell told FOX6 News Monday.

Terrell also adds that this is only the second time in the 48-year history of Alabama's two year college system that a two year college held a "no confidence" vote.

After the vote, Terrell said the chancellor's office sent investigators twice to interview faculty members, some by request, and some on a volunteer basis.

Terrell, a 33-year veteran of the school, who says he will retire after next semester, says Staats' problems were two-fold: the way he treated the faculty, and what Terrell calls misplaced priorities.

For example, Terrell says while the college was embarking on the $1.5 million dollar "Cardinal Gateway" project to renovate the main entrance to the main campus, its dorm for international students was falling into disrepair.

"It's an embarrassment, that these people go into this building we have, and think, 'This is what I'm supposed to live in. I've come halfway around the world and this is what I have for student housing.' And yet we spent a million and a half dollars in an intersection," Terrell said.

Terrell also says the administration laid off career counselors and discussed laying off summer workers, while Staats created a $100,000 a year position for a school vice president.

Terrell also claims Staats refused to tolerate any disagreement or alternative ideas, reprimanding a dean for voicing a different opinion on one occasion and also reprimanding a dean for rolling his eyes during a meeting.

"I just have never seen anybody who was an administrator, who was unwilling to listen to alternative ideas other than their own. I mean it was, the philosophy of 'you can agree with me or you can be wrong,'" Terrell said.

Terrell says Staats even went as far as to have personnel stand in the lobby of Wallace Hall and note all the employees who were coming and going to cast their confidence/no confidence votes and called a supervisor into his office to demand to know why his employees were there.

"Gestapo tactics don't work with us. Leadership by threat, by intimidation, that shouldn't even work in the military, let alone in civilian life," Terrell said.

Prior to coming to Gadsden State, Staats was a veteran of the Air Force and once headed a community college located on the campus of Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

FOX6 News reached out to Staats for comment, but has not heard back from him.

Check back to this story for updates as they become available.

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