Time is running out

Faculty Senate letter asks for Walker decision by semester’s end


Derek Pufahl, Staff Writer

Wayne State College’s Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday night, stating that the overdue advisory committee hearing for psychology professor Dr. Karen Walker should be convened by the end of this fall semester.

The hearing will discuss Walker’s dismissal from her teaching post at WSC. The tenured professor was escorted from campus in early October, and there has been little clarity from administration to the public as to the reason for her dismissal.

Walker made the request for the hearing on Oct. 8 in compliance with the SCEA Union Agreement between WSC faculty and the Nebraska State College System (NSCS).

“Section 17.7 of the SCEA agreement says that the advisory committee should be made within 30 days of the request,” faculty senate president Jeryl Nelson said, “and the consensus from faculty senate is that those 30 days are up.”

The resolution was e-mailed to President Marysz Rames yesterday. It stated that further delay of the hearing will “only heighten the corrosive effect on the reputation of Wayne State College, the morale of the faculty and students, the ability to deliver academic programs and the atmosphere of a free and robust exchange of ideas that defines a college community.”

Nelson said that after a half hour of discussion, the resolution was passed unanimously (though two faculty senate members were absent). The senate determined that the president should be alerted of this resolution.

The removal of Walker from campus has created a lot of tension and even some animosity among the campus community.

The outrage of students, faculty members and alumni has gained the attention of larger media outlets such as the radio station US92, News Channel Nebraska and KCAU-TV Channel 9 Sioux City, which reported the story on Monday.

Concerned supporters of Walker have sent a number of e-mails and letters to President Rames, the NSCS Board of Trustees, as well as Nebraska Legislature Education Committee members, voicing their frustrations with the situation.

A closed Facebook group in support Walker has gained 387 members. WSC students have begun a fundraising effort, selling T-shirts, to help show support and help Walker’s family in this time of uncertainty.

Ross Pesek, a WSC alumnus, said that he is a potential WSC donor and is concerned about the situation. However, even as tensions rise, no donors have retracted their financial support of the college.

“We have not had one donor pull their contributions,” Phyllis Conner, vice president of development and executive director of the Wayne State Foundation, said. “We did receive an e-mail from one alum who said that she would not donate again. But she had never donated in the past.”

Rames was unable to be contacted about the faculty senate letter, but her assistant, Joni Backer, said though that the administration must remain in accordance with the SCEA agreement’s disclosure section.

The disclosure section of the agreement (17.14) states: “Public statements about the case by either the faculty member, the advisory committee members or college administrators should be avoided. As a personnel proceeding, the hearing proceedings should be treated in a confidential manner.”

“If there are any further unnecessary delays,” the faculty senate resolution stated, “the administration should enter into negotiations to return Dr. Walker to the faculty.”
“I can tell you that the NSEA lawyers are not the cause of the delay,” WSC’s SCEA president Tami Worner said. “They have always wanted a hearing as soon as possible and are ready to go as soon as a date is set.”

Once a date has been determined and the hearing has taken place, the advisory committee will make a recommendation to President Rames, who will then make a decision on how to proceed concerning Walker’s dismissal based on this recommendation.