Op-ed: The Birmingham News on Yvonne Kennedy

Bishop State’s
controversial president is retiring at the end of the month, but now says she’ll
be sticking around campus. What part of “leave” does she not
understand?

Yvonne Kennedy is getting
a better deal from taxpayers than they have gotten from her. Taxpayers
certainly didn’t deserve the latest insult from the outgoing president of
Bishop State Community College.

Her parting shot? She’s
retiring, but not leaving.

Just last month, Kennedy
announced she’d retire at the end of July, news that came in the midst of
complaints about her lousy management and calls for her to be fired.

Now, Kennedy says she’ll
be sticking around campus after retirement to write a book about Bishop State.

Better yet, her lawyer
said, she’ll be on hand to offer advice to those trying to clean up the
troubled community college.

Which is interesting,
considering that Kennedy helped create the mess at Bishop State.

This is a school on
probation at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools because of a
number of administrative and academic problems. It’s a school where tax dollars
have at times been haphazardly spent and documented. It’s a school where more
than two dozen people, including college officials, face criminal charges in
connection with financial aid fraud.

Kennedy, as both the
college’s president and a state legislator, bears tremendous responsibility for
the mismanagement at the Mobile campus. Yet, Kennedy stayed on even after her
weak leadership became apparent. She stayed on long enough, indeed, to qualify
for a $531,000 lump-sum retirement bonus along with the healthy $7,600-a-month
pension she’ll begin drawing when she retires.

But that’s not good
enough for Kennedy. She still wants to remain a fixture at Bishop State, even
though it will complicate efforts to bring about reforms and better leadership.

Postsecondary Chancellor
Bradley Byrne says Kennedy will have no authority. But her very presence will
stymie those who want to further investigate past practices at the school and
intimidate those who want to make much-needed changes.

It’s like buying a house
a real fixer-upper, no less and having the previous owner refuse to vacate the
premises.

Kennedy’s retirement
meant she could leave her job under a cloud but still on remarkably favorable
terms. Taxpayers’ only reason to accept this arrangement was that it would be
cheaper and quicker for her to leave voluntarily than to force her out. This
newspaper was among those who accepted that rationale.

But Kennedy doesn’t want
to do the one thing this lopsided deal requires of her. What part of
“leave” does she not understand?

– Associated Press



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