Politics and lingering furor over the selection of a new president for Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana came close to upsetting delicate state budget negotiations Saturday.
Gov. Mitch Daniels was angered to discover that a provision inserted into one draft of the proposed budget would have forced him to appoint equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans to the college's 14-member board of trustees. No
similar stricture applies to any Indiana university.
Saturday morning, Neil Pickett, a top Daniels aide, said the governor would veto the budget unless the provision was stripped out.
Soon after, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, said the measure had been removed much earlier.
The Ivy Tech board has become politically sensitive since it voted recently not to appoint Daniels' preferred candidate, Carol D'Amico, as the new president of the community college. Crawford is on the Ivy Tech payroll, as is House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend. Crawford is manager of community relations and outreach programs, while Bauer is vice president of external partnerships.
The provision would have required that no more than 55 percent of the 14-member board be of one political party. That would have meant that the board would have to be split with seven Democrats and seven Republicans, because even an 8-6 split would exceed 55 percent.
Daniels has appointed nine members of the board of trustees and soon will have six other appointments to make as the terms of people appointed by Democratic governors expire. If the measure had stayed in, that would have meant Daniels would have had to appoint Democrats to achieve political balance.
Could Speaker Bauer and Rep. Crawford have been concerned that a Board dominated by Daniels' appointees might question the wisdom of the school serving as a job-entitlement provider for key Indiana lawmakers? By way of the Indiana Law Blog, we would note this new item on Mary Beth Schneider's online Star story. "The outgoing Ivy Tech president, Gerald Lamkin, has been at Bauer’s office throughout much of the final hours of the session." And why would the outgoing president have a need to be in Bauer's office this afternoon pray tell me? In addition to Bauer and Crawford, the school has also provided jobs to former Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Garton (R) and Rep. Craig Fry (D).
Pouring more salt in the wounds, Ruth Holladay blogged this week about some not-so-nice parting words at a going away party for retiring Ivy Tech President Gerald Lamkin made by none other than Lamkin and his wife. Holladay wrote:
Mrs. Lampkin took the stage first, proclaiming that "no outsider" is going to shake up the Ivy Tech family.
Then, Lampkin himself made his speech, saying, "Only a Hoosier can run our Ivy Tech. And I'm god damned proud to be a Hoosier."
Some of us thought Carol D'Amico was a Hoosier, too. Born in Canada, she moved to New Castle with her family when she was growing up and received degrees from Ball State University and Indiana University.
With this kind of thinking, it's no wonder Ivy Tech's performance under Lamkin was so dismal. Holladay reports Snyder plans to stay in his new position no more than 2 years. Quoting from a recent IBJ story on the school's performance, Holladay said, "Given Ivy Tech's dismal graduation rate, reported by the Indianapolis Business Journal on Saturday -- 15 percent in some on some of its campuses -- no wonder he's already thinking of an exit strategy."
Holladay also repeated the charge of D'Amico that she was deliberately overlooked for the job as president because she's a woman and because she wasn't up to the job because her husband suffered from Parkinson's disease. Holladay wrote, "Meanwhile, she's continuing to work out the details of her settlement with the Ivy Tech system -- a severance package strengthened by two big concerns: that higher-ups at Ivy Tech (including Lampkin) had vowed that a woman would never run the system, and that Carol herself couldn't do the job because her husband is crippled." "He has Parkinson's which has nothing to do with D'Amico's qualifications whatsoever." Although the Americans with Disabilities Act might see a connection between such a comment and discrimination."