Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress
Two additional members of the Jacksonville College staff were confirmed Thursday to have been terminated from their positions at the school.
Ken Rawson, who served as the college's dean of students, and IT team member Danny Morris were relieved of their duties in mid-December, said Dr. Mike Smith, Jacksonville College president.
Without going into specific detail behind the terminations, Smith reiterated that the school was able to make adjustments and changes in department staff to meet the needs of students class schedules.
“We're doing what's best for our school, and making adjustments – we never did away with any of the positions of the departments, and we never did away with any classes, but kept the same services and just made change in the personnel,” he said.
Three faculty members and several staff members also were let go earlier this month, including a couple who taught math and religion, as well as music instructor Tom Vandergriff, who said the announcement caught him by surprise.
“I loved teaching at Jacksonville College, and had a great time working with the kids,” said Vandergriff, who was hired two-and-a-half years ago to the music department and to oversee the school's choir and the Jacksonville College Singers. Although released from his employment with the college, he will continue teaching an online music appreciation class for an upcoming Winter Term program.
In a meeting shortly after his dismissal, Vandergriff asked Smith if the college would honor his contract.
“He said we don't have the money,” Vandergriff recalled.
Smith, however, reiterated that the school – which had an enrollment of 525 at the end of the fall term and employs approximately 100 workers, roughly 25 percent faculty – is not experiencing financial problems.
“We're always needing money,” he said Thursday, “but we're not in dire financial straits. We've paid all our bills, everyone was paid last Friday, we've got money in the bank, and we've got our next payroll (covered).”
He added, “there's never been a semester that we haven't had changes … we're constantly doing what's best for the school. It's just the nature (of business) when you have a school and you try to find the best qualified, the best fit for the the school.”
Jacksonville College's annual budget is approximately $4 million, according to Smith, with personnel comprising a large chunk.
“We're nowhere near closing the doors,” he said.