Trustees of Rock Valley College, in a near unanimous vote Tuesday evening, fired Jeff Havens, Physical Science Laboratory manager.
The vote came following a closed session in which the board presumbably discussed the matter. When the meeting was reopened, the administrations resolution to discharge Havens was put on the table.
All but Trustee Douglas Kelley voted in favor. Kelley abstained. Havens had been suspended with pay on Aug. 1 pending the vote. After the meeting, he said he allowed the vote to go forward. I have another job, he said. I could have resigned.
During the closed session, Havens was invited to make a statement to the board. He was allowed five minutes. Havens said that time limit was not adequate for him to fully explain his position. Instead, he read the final paragraph of a prepared statement and then asked the board to either delay its vote to permit him to obtain an attorney or submit the matter to an arbitrator. The board did not respond to that request.
After the vote, college President Roland Chapdelaine said he wanted to make it clear that the allegations concerning interactions between Havens and James Canfield, (now a student member of the board) did not come from Canfield. He did not initiate the process. It was a student that came to us, Chapdelaine said.
The college administration had alleged that Havens used his position to exert undue influence on Canfield and attempt to persuade him to adopt Havens views regarding the administration.
Havens is a regular columnist for this
newspaper on the topic of alternative energy. He also has published several letters and columns critical of Chapdelaine and the RVC Board of Trustees in both this paper and the Rockford Register Star. He also voiced his criticism of RVCs expenditures, campus development and RVC President Dr. Roland Chapdelaines leadership on WNTAs Chris Bowman Show. Havens also was active in organizing a union for the college support staff.
No trustees made any public comment about Havens conduct or dismissal. Neither did any of the approximately 25 persons in the audience have any remarks either for or against Havens.
Faculty representatives were present and later indicated the matter will be presented to the faculty for consideration of some kind of action. One said the fact that Havens discharge will affect the integrity of the science courses as well as the students right to expect a complete education, is a very serious matter.
The next semester begins Aug. 19 and the lab sessions, Havens said, will not be ready to go because the changeover of lab manuals he was making is incomplete, and there is not enough time for others to complete the task.
Havens noted the timing of the dismissal action was interesting because this is one of the few times in the academic calendar when faculty is away from campus and few students are present. He did not find that coincidental.
Asked what his next move will be, Havens said: I have accepted a teaching position. My next move is to commit myself to my students.
For Jeff Havens statement that he wanted to give in full to the RVC boards action, see page 6. He was only allowed 5 minutes to speak and could only read the last few paragraphs of his statement as his defense.