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SKC president resigns

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PABLO — Salish Kootenai College President Dr. Luana Ross resigned last week, citing “Irreconcilable visions between myself and some members of the governing board.”

According to a press release, Ross’ resignation is effective immediately. SKC Board of Directors Chairman Jim Durglo said the board has appointed Dr. Elaine Frank as interim president and will soon go through an advertisement and selection process for a new president.

Durglo said Ross’ resignation came as a surprise. 

“I like her as a person and professionally,” Durglo said. “I respected the work that she’d done at the college and was looking forward to a long and productive working relationship with her in the future.”

In the press release, Ross listed four accomplishments during her tenure as president of SKC. These included, “making the campus environment safer by creating and enacting improved policies on violent and sexual offenders; maintaining the integrity of the institution my confronting and addressing unethical behavior involved in a high-profile grade changing incident at the college; honoring the environment and the people in it by creating a Sustainability Commission while beginning the greening of the campus; increasing the humanity of the whole campus though my support and endorsement of the LGBT community; and elevating the status and awareness of faculty accomplishments by creating a lecture series.”

In deference to the grade-changing incident, Dr. Ross is referring to the fall of 2011 when the grades of 13 SKC nursing students were raised to allow them to enter the program. The grades were for a one-credit biology lab. Any and all faculty and staff involved in the grade-change are no longer employed by SKC.

Ross said in the press release that she expected an uphill battle after succeeding a long-serving president, and “this proved to be true.” She was referring to Joe McDonald, who served three decades as SKC president.

Upon being contacted for comment on her resignation, Ross told the Valley Journal that she would call back within the hour. Approximately 40 minutes later, an SKC employee called on behalf of Ross to say that any questions for Ross should be directed to Quanah M. Spencer, Attorney at Law, of Q. Spencer Law, PLLC in Spokane, Wash.

“In terms as any more details (than were available in the press release,) we’re not going to discuss that in the public sphere,” Spencer said. “We’re in the process of engaging in legal discussion regarding her former employer, SKC. We’re hoping that we can reach a mutual resolution in the future. If not, my client will definitely investigate all legal remedies she has at her disposal.”

Durglo could not discuss the specifics of Ross’ letter of resignation, but did say he believed it was a personal and professional choice to submit a resignation to the board, and “we respectfully accepted that.”

In the press release, Ross referred to the SKC students as the heart and engine of the college, and said it was a privilege to work with many faculty members and professional staff.

“Coming home for this work with my tribe was a distinct honor,” Ross wrote. “As I return to instruction, academic research, and writing at the University of Washington, I am grateful to call many new people friends, and to hold dear to many cherished memories of my time spent at Salish Kootenai College.”

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