Open Letter to The Board of Regents About TMCC (Opinion)

Submitted by Kyle Simmons.

Dear NSHE Board of Regents Member(s):

I wrote to all of you in March 2018, and sent you a narrative about issues I have confronted at TMCC (which was also published by ThisisReno in March 2018); I wrote that narrative to plead for your assistance with my tenure denial and various NFA Contract violation issues at TMCC, all of which occurred after I filed a sexual harassment claim in October 2017 and in spite of my tenure-committee’s unanimous recommendation of tenure. (You were also all sent that letter from my tenure committee in January 2018 – SEE attachment #2.)

Sadly, the contract violations I have dealt with at TMCC reflect the same pattern of contract violations that my colleague, Dr. Thomas Cardoza, and others have endured from TMCC Administrators (I know that Dr. Cardoza has made you aware of his lawsuit regarding such violations too), and oddly enough all of the problems we have faced have stemmed from the same two TMCC Administrators: Dean of Liberal Arts, Dr. Jill Channing, and President, Dr. Karin Hilgersom.

With this current letter I am reaching out to you once again, to seek your assistance with my tenure denial and various ongoing NFA Contract violation issues at TMCC, especially in light of your recent extension of TMCC President Hilgersom’s contract, her $50,000 a year raise, and the admission that she needs a “coach” or a “mentor” to perform her contractual duties effectively.

I have read both Chancellor Reilly’s and President Hilgersom’s Evaluation Committee’s reports about President Hilgersom and have included those documents for your convenience (SEE attachments #4 and #5), along with three years of my own evaluations and tenure committee reports (SEE attachments #6 and #7) not to mention the fact that I was nominated for Teacher of the Year two times in the last four years and that you have been copied on dozens of supportive letters from my students over the last few months.

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I provide all these documents to question the equity of how I have been treated by the NSHE system in relation to TMCC President Hilgersom (A Tale of Two Evaluations if you will).  It feels as though I am confronting a behemoth, two-tiered justice system and would like (with your power and assistance) to change this dynamic.

To illustrate and support my feeling on this matter, I offer you three full years of my evaluations and reports (reflecting all excellent and outstanding scores), and would be glad to copy you on hundreds of positive student evaluations solicited by the TMCC course evaluation process each semester, to hold up next to the copious negative remarks related to the recent evaluation of TMCC President Hilgersom.

I believe that all these documents will paint a self-evident picture to those that choose to see and hear what the documents say.  Sadly, since October 2017, after I filed a sexual harassment complaint, both President Hilgersom and the Dean of Liberal Arts, Jill Channing, have collectively undercut my past evaluations by denying my tenure and by removing me from instruction at TMCC altogether, exhibiting retaliatory behavior that is as unethical, unkind, and unproductive, as it is illegal.  Thus, I am asking all of you for help one more time.

I have filed Grievances and Appeals since February 2018, with TMCC’s Dean of Liberal Arts, a Vice President, and the President, all the way up to NSHE Chancellor Reilly; unfortunately, all of these individuals have utilized alleged “technicalities” as their reasons to not address my concerns about contract violations.

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Let me say that again: each and every one of these aforementioned Administrators have sought procedural defects or “technicalities” as their relied upon remedy to address issues that have been Grieved and Appealed by myself and others (colleagues who have also had their complaints denied due to procedural defects or “technicalities” or called “untimely”).

Procedural defects and “technicalities” are in no manner effective remedies to employment concerns (nor are they judiciously satisfying responses to receive) and neither do “technicalities” replace the effective management of real organizational problems.  Neither I nor my colleagues are the problem here – the problem here is lack of management of the system procedures/policies of TMCC/NSHE.

I ask for you to please move beyond “technicalities” and procedural defects and alleged “untimeliness” to investigate the crux of the matter here: a systemic pattern of practice of contract violations with willful impunity by TMCC/NSHE Administrators.

I ask you to please hold each and every one of these Administrators under your purview accountable to the rules clearly agreed to in the TMCC-NFA Contract and NSHE Policies (as well as those of state and federal laws) and in good faith assist me, my colleague Dr. Thomas Cardoza and others that have yet to step forward and fight against the following Administrative acts of retaliation and intimidation at TMCC:

  • a) seeking to damage those that file legitimate complaints, grievances, and appeals,
  • b) attempting to suppress the Free Speech and Academic Freedom of various instructors (these instances are in writing and I will gladly provide them to you),
  • c) portraying academic conversations as acts of racism and discrimination and attempting to silence those voices through Human Resources investigations,
  • d) calling the Campus Police to a Division Meeting in January 2018 to stand in the doorway of a room full of perplexed professionals – in an attempt to intimidate/remove a colleague for freely speaking up and out against the actions of Administration.
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I must admit that I am quite weary from the last nine months of unnecessary, uncooperative, and negative treatment by my employer, but not so weary that I will not file complaints with the NERC, EEOC, and an eventual lawsuit to defend my name and deliver justice to the actors of bad behavior at TMCC (which is why I have written this correspondence to you as an Open Letter for the public to read too).

Despite my weariness, I still believe that with your help we can find a way to correct all of the aforementioned problems and right a few wrongs in the process; but none of these negative behaviors will change without your intervention; for you are collectively, after all, the elected stewards of Higher Education in Nevada, and you have all been charged with the power and ability to oversee the actions of Administrators in the NSHE system.

And I sincerely believe that you can still turn the numerous aforementioned negatives into an even greater positive future for the students and taxpayers of Nevada (which I think could be a unique and affirmative teachable moment about right and wrong and also function to reaffirm the public trust that we all place in our elected officials).  I hope that you are all up to the task…

Sincerely,

Dr. Kyle Bryant Simmons

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2 Comments

  1. Well….. Join the club. I left a National Instructor job to come to work for TMCC (at half the pay) to set up their “Industrial Maintenance Program”, because I KNEW the area needed it, for the 20+ years I’ve lived here the complaint has been “No trained TECHNICAL workforce”. I set the program up. Taught 7 of its classes, and put 6 of them on-line… The ONLY technical instructor at the time to do so). I even developed a basic industrial electricity class over my summer(on-line) for the Washoe School District. Not sure exactly WHY my tenure was not approved (I WAS more interested in setting up my program than attending “academic” meetings, I DID have a sexual harassment charge leveled against me (for showing a far-side cartoon in class). oh… and I DID have a $392,000 FISPE grant for equipment (most of which was never purchased after I left)… I wonder if someone had eyes on that money …hmmmmm
    A FREE PRESS at the time did not exist in Reno (The RGJ refused to print my “letters to the editoe… (I was told later they also publish the Colleges semester listings and such…. (they were TOLD to stop publishing my comments).
    The good news (I think) is TMCC does have a program now,,,, I see a lot of “my” classes in it (hopefully they have industry experienced teachers teaching it) AND they have purchased at least TWO sets of the equipment I ORIGINALLY spec’d out (The same equipment Boeing Aircraft uses in theor “Trade College” )….
    But.. without Tesla coming in .. we’d still be lacking the program I’m sure.

  2. Dear Dr Simmons – All of this is extremely regrettable and I understand your weariness. However, because what you desire is justice, I urge you to persevere. Breath, take one day at a time, realize this may take a while, but, please, don’t give up.

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