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October 26, 2009 10:26 pm MST

So, About That "Higher Ed Hiring Spree"

  • by: Colorado Pols

If you thought it couldn’t get any worse for gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry after having his pet claims about Governor Bill Ritter’s supposed “hiring spree” ripped into bite-size pieces–guess again, as the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

Mesa State College has created 83 positions in the past four years – the largest growth rate of any public college or university in Colorado.

The 16 percent job growth correlates with an enrollment increase of 17 percent and a 40 percent boost in the square footage of college facilities over the past four years, according to Mesa State spokeswoman Dana Nunn.

“With the kind of enrollment growth we had last year, we had to hire some adjunct faculty,” Nunn said, referring to faculty in part-time positions…

This is Penry’s alma mater, you understand, in his hometown, if there’s any place he should be able to appreciate the simple arithmetic population growth that has occured, necessitating more employees to deliver the same level of service…

You get all that. Not really noteworthy by itself. But this might be:

The college has a history of hiring former political workers and those connected to them. Wagner’s co-workers at the college include Vice President of Student Services John Marshall, who ran Republican Bob Beauprez’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006, and Acting Director of Development Kristi Pollard, the sister of Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction… [Pols emphasis]

Former Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, worked for the college as an interim assistant budget officer, a position he assumed in 2004. And, Penry’s wife, Jamie, worked for the college as assistant to the director of development [Pols emphasis] before taking a job at Grand Junction High School a couple years ago.

So, ah, what was that again, what Senator Penry told the Denver Post about this, all snarly like?

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction [says] growth in the number of employees on campuses has been excessive and that Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, is to blame.

Penry, who’s running for governor, last week called “preposterous” Ritter’s argument that neither he nor lawmakers have a say in the hiring of employees on college campuses.

We’re pretty much done here, right? We think so. Once again Josh Penry and reality have parted ways with such sweet irony you wonder how it could have been unintentional. It’s like a comedy routine, he had to have planned this, you know? Otherwise why the hell would you do it?

And yeah, we do think that longtime GOP operative-cum-Mesa State President Tim Foster’s stable of Republican insiders and kin rotating into high-salary school positions, no real secret for a number of years now, is a little on the ethically questionable side. Thanks for pointing it out, Josh!


25 thoughts on “So, About That “Higher Ed Hiring Spree”


    Penry’s sister named interim development director at Mesa State

    Mesa State College today announced alumna Kristine Pollard of Grand Junction as the interim Director of Development.

    “We are immensely grateful to have a professional of Kristi’s caliber joining the college,” said President Tim Foster. “Her background in business development and community relations make her a superb fit for this important job.”

    Ms. Pollard (B.A., 1996) spent four years as the Vice President of Policy and Investor Relations for the Southeast Business Partnership, a south Denver Metro Area economic development council.

    Most recently, Kristi was the community engagement specialist for Chevron in Grand Junction.

    How does it feel to be part of your own problem? What’s the salary for this position? What about the assistant to the same position Penry’s wife held previously?

    Teh stupid! It burns! Oh, how it burrrns!

  2.     You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

           Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

           16th president of US (1809 – 1865)

    Even the Penry peddlers at the Post should wake up one of these days. Or am I dreaming that the Publisher and editors will tell their political reporters to report hard news not political spin.

  3. The key piece of information about all these hires is that they were brought on as “interim” or “acting” in their positions.  The “acting” position is purely a discretionary hire and requires no advertising/competition for two years under Mesa State personnel rules.

    And I’m apparently on Mesa State’s “shoot the messenger” list.

    See comments from Nunn attached to this article and this article.  Let’s see if she posts here too.

    A couple of my readers pointed out that the summary of political hires left out Steve King, who was hired to a consulting contract.  I discussed that last December.  

    1. They are typically very poorly paid, get no benefits, and certainly no career.

      It’s the Republican style solution to keep the costs of higher ed down.  

      1. And I’m asking as somebody who has been adjunct faculty, visiting faculty (with a full-time salary equal to pre-tenure staff) and research faculty (I got out of academia before getting on a tenure track).  

        You’re totally wrong that adjunct faculty is a disgrace.  Adjunct positions serve a few purposes, and two main ones:

        1- allow departments to keep positions open while getting the perfect faculty member for the slot (which can take 2-3 years)

        2- allow experts in the field with full-time jobs outside of academia to teach and bring in a new perspective to classes they teach (I can’t stress enough how valuable that is)

        The fact that some people who can’t find other jobs take adjunct positions out of last resort is not the fault of the university.  And the notion that departments are relying on adjuncts to carry the teaching load so they can cut back on tenured and tenure-track faculty is absurd.  Yes, it happens here and there, but it’s not the pervasive problem it’s made out to be, at least in all the departments I’ve been a member of (quite a few at this point).

        1. Adjuncts, as you say, serve several very useful purposes.  

          My concern is hiring three or four adjuncts instead of one full time professor, tenured or not.  

          1. Departments much prefer to have a full roster of full-time faculty.  It’s not like somebody in admin thought “Hey, let’s just populate our university with temporary lecturers that will work for food.”  When adjuncts are used in lieu of a staff prof, it’s considered a stop-gap, temporary situation.  Could be a failed search left a position open, maternity leave left one FT prof out for a year, or a few other reasons.  But you’re making it seem like the preferred option is adjuncts over FT’s, and it’s just not the case.

          1. earned approx. $2500/class/semester (at least a few years ago when I last subject myself to this). I love working with students, but if you calculate the hourly pay, it makes more economic sense to mow lawns.

    1. Penry is a candidate for a major seat, so if you see it as bashing that’s your problem. You open yourself up to this stuff when you run for a seat.  

      1. I can take it from Colorado Pols, or you you Cray-but give me a break–lets talk issue and not presonaltites ( sp)

        I  am so sure this will open the citters.

    2. Just kidding.

      It just gets a little tiring listening to a cadidate for guv complain about state spending and hiring when they and their relatives are on the state dole.

    3. This IS CO politics.  And some politicians practically ask for bashing.  You know, lies, hypocrisy, and even large doses of stupidity.

      It’s the American way!

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