University Center Board Members address Humboldt State University President’s notice of termination
The Oct. 8 University Center board meeting discussed a Sept. 24 email from Humboldt State President Tom Jackson issuing a 90-day notice of termination.
The notice requires the board to fix problems like a $300,000 line of credit to the North Humboldt Recreation and Park District and refusing to participate in the President’s review of the UC programs.
The NHRPD runs the Arcata Community Pool. According to Faculty Representative Mark Rizzardi, Ph.D., Humboldt State University has worked with the group since 1993.
The UC group disputed these claims.
Wendy Sotomayor, interim executive director, called the notice disheartening and unexpected. Sotomayor noted that the board is actively engaging in discussions on how to respond.
Additionally, the group reached out to their legal counsel for advice and expects to have a draft of an initial response in the coming weeks.
“It’s hard to imagine what would happen if the UC were to actually close,” Sotomayor said.
Faculty Representative Steve Martin, Ph.D., pursued the idea. Martin responded directly during the board call addressing future concerns.
“What would happen if we were to close permanently?” Martin said.
Martin posed that the closure of the UC allows HSU to hire private organizations and groups for services without the need for approval from a board.
Earlier this year HSU worked with Aladdin, a food catering company that provides meal services to universities across the country like Fairmount University and Purdue University Fort Wayne. The administration did not go forward with any contract or agreement with the Aladdin group.
Further complicating the matter is the projected loss of 2.2 million dollars in the UC budget.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, operations that fall under the control of the UC Board have been temporarily closed or operating in a limited capacity. These include the campus information desk, The Jolly Giant, College Creek Marketplace and the campus bookstore.
With reduced foot traffic due to shelter-in-place guidelines combined with the decrease of students on campus, dining services has taken an exceptionally hard toll. Even while operating at reduced capacity.
Sotomayor estimated that there are 675 meal plans active on campus, a drastic decrease from previous years.
“We would need 1200 meal plans to break even,” Sotomayor said during the Zoom call. “At 675 we are not even close.”
While the future seemed unclear, Rizzardi noted that the next course of action needed to be made soon.
“In order to cancel it within the 90 days, we would have to start now, and that’s not something we want to do,” Rizzardi said. “Get ready to drop things so that way if he says no we can act fast.”
The board members noted that they had not been given any further clarification from the administration on how to tackle, refute or respond to the notice.
During the meeting, members made a movement to formally ask for a representative from the President’s office to be present during the next session on Oct. 22.
“It takes two to tango,” Martin said. “We need to some response from them, otherwise they can just ignore us for 90 days and then say it’s terminated.”
The last day for the board to fix changes is Dec. 23. If unable to provide solutions, the UC board will be terminated on Dec. 24.