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Almost 300 GPC employees fired due to budget deficit

By David Schick


“I deeply regret that 215 full-time GPC employees and 67 part-time GPC employees are being informed today that their employment with the college will be ending,” wrote Rob Watts, GPC’s interim president, today in an email to faculty and staff.

That is over 100 more employees than previously predicted in a budget outline plan by Watts on May 25.

According to Watts, personell costs represents more than 90% of the college’s expenditures and these cuts were necessary to bring the college’s budget back into balance from its $16 million deficit.

“Our first priority in making the reduction-in-force decisions was protecting classroom instruction for students,” wrote Watts as he explained that no tenure or tenure-track faculty members would be apart of the staff reductions.

In addition to the personell reductions, GPC will be closing a number of “internal institutes” to allow initiatives which focus more on the core teaching mission to continue.

“It will not be easy,” wrote Watts in regards to GPC now having to operate with significantly lower staffing levels. “Our goal is for these staff reductions to have the smallest possible effect on students.”

None of GPC’s five campuses will be closing as a result of the cuts and all five are currently preparing for the next generation of students this fall.

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  • ragged jag

    Financial mismanagement — check out the baseball locker rooms. Nice woodwork on the lockers …. all for a 2 yr. school. Rumor mill says close to 75k for it. That could have been 2 or 3 people’s jobs. As a matter of fact check into the WHOLE baseball complex. Something stinks in Newton is right !

  • Bring Back Tricoli

    Enough is enough! Tricoli should not have been taken away from GPC. If he was still here none of this would have happened. The “good ‘ol boys” were here many years ago and they’re back again.

    The budget and finance leaders did this to our college not the staff who were sent home, and not Tricoli. The word “conspiracy” has been floating around for the past two months, it’s time the collegian do some digging. We lost a great president, the EVP strolled out of here with a six figure retirement, and 300 others went home poor. Where do you think the cover up started, and who was the fall guy? We want our president back! Knowing him, he’d come up with a way to bring back more than half the staff we just lost. Soon, “you know who” will suggest our name should be DeKalb Junior College again, because it rolls off of his tongue just right. Like we give a damn.

  • No hard decisions

    I don’t think the firing squad is making hard decisions. First they protect themselves, then their best friends, and the rest is easy.

  • Ellen Sweatt

    # The china in President Belcher’s office came from a chancellor’s house that was dismantled. It was free. I don’t know about the dishwasher.

    # I would like more information on what kinds of financial mismanagement happened. If GPC was regularly audited by the State of Georgia and the Regents, why didn’t someone in authority find this years earlier and stop this train wreck? My heart goes out to those terminated, all of us who will be carrying a heavier load and to those who are having to make these decisions.

    • Stevecat

      Gee Ellen Sweatt, aren’t you one of the people who retained an administrative salary having returned to faculty status? (interestedm parties should checkout Sweatt’s annual salary viam open.ga.gov although my primary concern is that the records ony go back to 2008. There’s more but I’ll stop here for now.

  • Something reeks at Newton . . .

    and it isn’t the cow pasture next door. I thank the Collegian for your diligence in using the open records laws to take us behind the scenes. None of the local media have done this.

    Tuesday a longtime, much loved and respected Newton employee found out that she was no longer employed when she arrived at work and found that her computer had been disabled.

    Turns out that VP June was expected at Newton Monday to do the firings but didn’t show until Tuesday. Dean Cobbs evidently couldn’t do his own dirty work.

    The fired employee was one of the most helpful people on campus, helping students navigate the very confusing “one-stop shop”. She was the first person you saw in the area, greeting everyone with a smile and ready to answer any question. She had also been at Newton/Rockdale so long that she knew how to help students, faculty and staff with many questions about Newton. After so many years at GPC and being near retirement, she deserves much better treatment and should be reinstated.

    Also, the most competent employee in Newton student accounts was let go, despite having been there longer than the others. WTF? She was the face of the department and always friendly and helpful, and should have been the last person in the dept. to go.

    So far the criteria for dismissal have been as transparent as the cowpiles outside, and probably far worse smelling. I hope the Collegian will continue investigating, and request the emails of June and Cobb about the asinine way they (mis)handled all of this. Thank you again for all your efforts so far.

    • All glamour NO glitz

      I knew the real “face” of Newton campus would show up soon. There were other people of color who had served the same time of unemployment as the person you mentioned but nobody jumped to their defense. The problem with Newton is that it is guided by the “good ole boys syndrome” and they will always look out for themselves. Are you upset that an African-American was the one to relieve her of her duties? If so, why was she able to “hang out” until late in the afternoon after hearing the news while all others left immediately. I know because she felt she was entitled to leave with dignity. There were many people of color who had almost the same amount of dedicated time at GPC but in all the blogs I have read, nobody has jumped to their defense. While she may have been helpful for the students even to the point of telling students to call the dean or executive vp when they felt they were not given the right answer even though 75% of the time it was the student’s fault. She tried to get many workers in the one-stop shop fired without even asking or knowing the full extent of the students’ issue. I read in other blogs, they were getting rid of troublemakers also. That dedicated person was a troublemaker to her colleagues. You don’t try to get others fired without ramification coming your way. Also, the most competent person in that Student Account office left six months ago. The “face” of that office, was just that all fluff. The cronies on Newton campus really need to look out before some EEOC filings are completed. From the Deans down to the janitorial staff, there is so much coverted racism that my formal colleagues are taking notice and waiting for the right match to light.

      • Something reeks at Newton . . .

        Your reply makes almost no sense and I don’t think we’re referring to the same people. The people I referred to – 1 was shown out first thing in the morning, and 1 left at lunchtime and did not “hang out” until late afternoon. You seem to be suggesting some form of racism not shown by the list of employees laid off or especially by those who remain. Please check your own prejudices & sense of entitlement at the door & show some sympathy for all of these people.

        Please explain – “same time of unemployment”, “converted racism”???, & “formal colleagues”. Your incomprehensible post suggests that you may not be best suited for employ by an educational institution.

      • All glamour NO glitz

        Coverted racists will ALWAYS defend their own kind. If you had enough time on your hands to watch these people leave, makes me wonder if you should be working at GPC as well, oh right you’re not working. Too much time n your hands. Newton campus is too laid back. Now I hear the Public Safety team is slowly becoming the “face” of Newton campus now. Why? None of them do anything but hang out. It’s like a meditterean vacation for most of them, There’s what 10 to 15 officers yet maybe less than a third are of color. EEOC will be knocking on the door soon enough.

        I have a lot of sympathy for the people who lost their jobs but when somebody has done nothing but try to get their colleagues fired during their tenure, it’s just so ironic…..

  • What a crock of…

    As one who has hired and fired, then been fired myself, I can say without a doubt that no one can truly appreciate the devastation of losing a job unjustly until it has happened to you. So, I am guessing that RW and the folks at the BOR have not a clue as to the utter destruction and havoc they wreaked among the lives of their faithful employees. May what you have sown be visited upon to ten fold!

  • You have got to be kidding!

    Tricoli may certainly have had “pet projects” (and if you look at the organizational charts available on the GPC website, they are in fact, ridiculous beyond belief. I have tried to fill in the expansive orgnizational charts and match the positions with the salaries of the, okay, bull shit positions that are sucking the life out of a good college in which most people try to help students.

    BUT Tricoli was a far better president than his predecessor Jacquelyn M. Belcher. Talk about wasteful spending! The running jokes (still!) are about how many times she redecorated her office which included a dishwasher and separate set of china. (Shades of Nancy Reagan?).

    I appreciate the candor and first- hand commentary of the “you’ll regret it ” guy. (Or however he said it. Sorry, Southern is still a third or fourth language for me.)

    Belcher was the president who put this college into the red. I am not sure what it is that college presidents are supposed to be doing…from Belcher! I would say her goal was to “elevate” GPC to, I ‘m not sure what. I guess that her goal was to elevate herself more than anything else. Or in Tricoli’s case, to win awards.

    So “politically correct person?”. What the heck is your point? Tarnowski is indeed highly paid. The funny part is his position doesn’t really correspond on the organizational chrt. Plus, as a professional in general he migh want to display more appropriate non- verbal behavior in general.

    But please continue to post. And I think that he Collegian has done a better job than any of the other media…so far and I don’t even want to think about the implications of that.

    • Don’t Blame Belcher

      Hey Kidding, If you read the excellent coverage of the budget in the Collegian you will see where GPC had more than $10 million in reserves in 2009. How can you blame Belcher for GPC being in the red? Belcher left Tricoli a fiscally healthy college and Tricoli ran it into the dumpster. If Tricoli focused on redisigning the presidental suite and buying new china, 282 GPC employees would still have jobs.

      • Belcher left in 2005

        How can you credit her for a 2009 reserve of $10 million? I still think Tricoli is to blame for where GPC is now, but just saying…

  • Concerned Friend

    Up until today the Collegian website has engaged in quality journalism. This reponse attacking Tarnowski should never have been posted here. Tarnowski is a vice president and yes, he is highly paid, but does that make him a “henchman”? Is it possible, just possible, that Tarnowski was doing his job, speaking with potential donors to the college, trying to be postive about the quality of education at the college? Posts about the many people damaged by the overspending and lack of oversight would be appropriate and interesting. Talk about the sad day and the many lives that were impacted by the cuts, but don’t include unsubstantiated character attacks.

    • Good job

      The Collegian continues to engege in quality journalism, exercising the freedom our constitution guarantees the press. Just because Concerned Friend doesn’t like what someone observed and wrote about is hardly a reason to suggest the Collegian move towards stronger censorship of letters and comments.
      The Collegian is doing a good job, an excellent job. Outstanding. Keep up the good work.

  • Yewl Regretit

    Meanwhile JUST TODAY as folks packed their offices and cried about having just been stunned with the news of being jobless, one of Tricoli’s high-paid, still employed henchmen, VP Jeff Tarnowski, strutted through the one of the buildings wearing sunglasses while yelping it up on his cell phone as if he was auditioning for a role on Comedy Central. Having firsthand knowledge of this, I was appalled at the lack of compassion and blatant disregard for the innocent folks who had just been tossed into the sea of Georgia’s already engorged unemployed population. Some may feel that those who were laid off perhaps should have never been hired in the first place due to lack of funds (which may be the case with some of Tricoli’s pet projects). But, keep in mind that when one applies for a job at a supposed “reputable” institution, interviews and signs a contract they are not expecting to be signing up for lies, drama, and evil games of cloak and dagger. For some, it meant leaving other jobs to come to a place where they ‘thought’ opportunities to build a solid career exists. While it’s good that Tricoli is gone, the remaining cronies that sucked up to him in an effort to protect themselves, covered his hiney and are still employed along with those at the BOR who failed to ‘trust and verify’ and are still in protection mode should be too. Fact is, one never truly gets away with what they do. Karma is indeed an itch with a capital B, and comes back to bite sooner than they may think.