New MCCCD governing board inspire ‘return to cooperative model of shared governance’


Sarah Hall

MCCCD Offices

Jesse Tannous and Brian Palm

The recent election of new Maricopa Governing board members, specifically, Dr. Tom Nerini, Marie Sullivan and Kathleen Winn, have stirred optimism among many faculty members as well as representatives of the Faculty Association.

“Two of the District’s new board members, Dr. Tom Nerini and Marie Sullivan, have demonstrated their clear understandings of the true value of community colleges,” said John Schampel, President of the Faculty Association.

“In the wake of current Board’s corrosive actions towards faculty, they have both articulated the need for District administration’s re-establishing the long-time partnership between full-time faculty and administration, for the success of our students and to build upon the educational excellence at our 10 colleges.”

Schampel addressed one new board member who was not on the Faculty Association candidate “ticket”—but a board member that Schampel views optimistically.

“I have hope that Kathleen Winn, when she has better familiarized herself with our community college district and its needs, will be a positive force for the colleges going forward,” Schampel said. “I am confident that Dr. Linda Thor and Dana Saar will both continue to serve with all of the experience, wisdom, and competence that we have come to expect from them.”

The year has been rough for Maricopa faculty with the ending of Meet and Confer and RFP from a four-member majority of the existing board last February as well as the ongoing climate of fear and intimidation that has echoed among faculty and ultimately lead to the 13-page documented complaint sent to the Higher Learning Commission in September.

Barry F. Vaughan is the Chair of the Political Action Committee of the Faculty Association

Vaughan addressed the new member election outcome with enthusiasm but pointed out the immediacy of the work ahead for the new board.

“I am very happy with the outcome of the election; our ticket had great success.  I hope the new board will, in January, immediately set to work to address some of the disastrous initiatives of the board under Mr. Hendrix’s leadership,” Vaughan said. “I expect we’ll see new leadership on the board, a return to transparent decision making, as well as a review of the leadership at the District Office.”

Another critical issue that Vaughan, along with other faculty members, and a swell of people in the community want revisited—is the decision made last year to eliminate the decades old football program at several Maricopa colleges. The surprising decision drastically changed the goals and dreams of players and coaches alike and many in the community have rallied and organized against the elimination and continue to push for a reexamination and more transparency of that decision.

“I fully expect the new board will also review, and perhaps reverse, the current board’s actions regarding football.” Vaughan said.

Vaughan also addressed the current HLC complaint that stands to influence the new board.

“It is my deepest hope that we will also see an end to the seeming politically motivated attacks on employee groups within the District. Faculty and staff are the beating heart of the colleges, and good governance requires they be full partners in the governance of the colleges,” Vaughan said.

“If I could, I would entreat the new board to reverse the resolution of February 27, 2018 that attacked 40 years of non-partisan shared governance of the Maricopa Colleges.  Such a move would, I believe, go a long way to addressing the concerns of the Higher Learning Commission,” Vaughan said. “I believe the Faculty stand ready to return to the cooperative model of shared governance with the Governing Board and District Administration which made the Maricopa Colleges great in the first place.”

Schampel also spoke to the HLC complaint filed by the faculty association and with regard to the HLC response and possible actions that HLC may take.

“The HLC process is ongoing.  The District must come in to alignment with their professional and academic responsibilities, as identified in the Faculty Association’s complaint to HLC, and the HLC’s resulting demand letter to the Chancellor. Corrections and structural changes must be made, separate and apart of the election,” Schampel said.

“I am hopeful that the next Maricopa Board will genuinely revisit Meet and Confer, to fully understand its inherent value to our institutions as a collaborative problem-solving process, with the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP) as one of its significant results.”

Northeast Valley News asked the representative of record for Maricopa Chancellor, Maria Harper-Marinick, Matt Hasson, if the chancellor wished to comment on the new board members and how the change in the composition of the board may be related to the faculty complaint filed with the Higher Learning Commission or what effect it may have on the upcoming investigation by the HLC.

“As I don’t speak on behalf of the HLC, I recommend you contact the HLC to get an understanding of what, if any, impact new board members will have on their inquiry into the complaints they received,” Hasson said. “The HLC asked MCCCD for a response to the complaints they received, which they have received.”

Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick sent out a district wide letter announcing and welcoming the new board members following the Nov. 6 election.


Dear Maricopa,

Please join me in welcoming the newly elected Governing Board Members for the Maricopa County Community College District.

  •        Kathleen Winn, At-Large
  •        Marie Sullivan, District 3
  •        Jean McGrath, District 4
  •        Dr. Tom Nerini, District 5

I look forward to working together with this new Governing Board to advance the work we do in service of our community and students.


Maria Harper-Marinick, Ph.D.



The new voting board for MCCCD consists of—Dr. Tom Nerini, Marie Sullivan,

Dr. Linda Thor, Dana Saar, Laurin Hendrix, Jean McGrath and Kathleen Winn.