My name is Ted Taft. I worked as a full-time professor of English at FCC for 24 years. I retired at the end of 2017.

First, I would like to express my love and admiration for Frederick Community College. In the fall of 1993, having just received my doctorate, I interviewed at several institutions. I chose FCC, even though it meant moving from Connecticut, because the collegial respect and friendly relations among faculty, administration, and support staff greatly impressed me. FCC represented the best human and educational environment I’d ever been part of.

However, I feel the need to add my name to the Faculty Association and others who are deeply concerned about a work environment of hostility, fear, and intimidation that has become pervasive during the presidency of Elizabeth Burmaster. I was lucky. I never felt as though I was the direct object of such treatment. I heard many stories, though, and have been made aware of the harassment that has happened since I retired. It doesn’t surprise me. In my last few years at FCC, I watched unhappiness and fear grow on the part of many employees. My personal answer those years was to keep my dealings with President Burmaster minimal and withdraw from nearly all college activity outside the classroom. At the start of President Burmaster’s tenure, I’d hoped once she got to know the place and its people, things would get better. Things only got worse. I finally felt forced to retire four years early and before I was financially ready because the atmosphere of hostility, intimidation, and poor administrative decision-making under the president had become intolerable.

The faculty and staff at FCC have always been among the most talented I’ve ever had the pleasure to be associated with. I’ve been to many conferences over the years and spoken with many teachers from other institutions. Without exception I would return from those conferences proud of FCC, knowing that FCC faculty and staff were well ahead of most other schools in innovation and planning. Such a faculty and staff should be treated with respect and allowed to do their jobs free of threat and intimidation.

People and the relationships between them are the strength of any institution. To poison those relations is to poison the institution. I am sorry to say that what I witnessed my last few years at FCC on the part of senior administration is an appalling lack of respectful, dignified treatment that is only supported and sanctioned by the board of trustees when they extend the contract of the president of the college, the chief offender, by a year. The president has demonstrated unprofessional and, quite frankly, inhuman conduct. Does the board of trustees not have the responsibility to oversee the well-being of the institution, its employees, and its students? And does The Frederick News-Post not have the responsibility to investigate the environment at the college with all available resources? Now, right now, is the time to act courageously by revoking the president’s privilege to represent FCC. President Burmaster should be immediately fired, and FCC should find someone who can humanely manage such talented employees at such a great educational institution.

This has been a very difficult letter to write. It grieves me beyond words that FCC should come to such a pass. I had been considering future support for FCC. I will be withdrawing those considerations until I am convinced that its dealings with its employees is professional, respectful, and human.

Edward Taft

Professor of English (retired)

(3) comments

threecents

Wow. The county and the state need to get on this right away. FCC is too important to let this go on. There should be multiple resignations from the Board of Trustees. This is two bad choices for president in a row that the BoT has selected. They did not even realize there was a problem until it showed up in the FNP, and they continue to minimize it despite the growing evidence. Jan, are you on this?

mamlukman

I've made several comments to letters about FCC. I won't repeat all those, but just mention that I attended the public meetings in 2014 where the three candidates for FCC president took questions for an hour. While the other two candidates gave thoughtful and reasonable answers to all the questions, the current president simply gave a list of her titles and offices as an "answer" to every single question. For example, "What is the role of college athletics at a junior college?" Good question, right? Her answer went along the lines of "I was chairman of x, Vice President of Y, and director of Z."

mszadams

Thank you for taking the time to write this excellent letter, Ted. My experience at FCC was very similar to yours. It is a shame that our former colleagues continue to be subjected to this hostile work environment. They are not ‘snowflakes’ but strong professionals who know dysfunctional and ineffectual leadership when they see it.

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