Dr. James Mabry, president of Middlesex Community College said that he is currently working to address concerns regarding his leadership that were noted in a recent campus survey.
Communication is the first step, he said. However, with the changing education system and limited resources, it is a challenge that he said he is willing to accept.
Mabry said the criticisms made against him in the survey were general and that the survey was “written in a way to bring out a lot of negative response.”
Survey results also showed that many respondents had concerns that the institution was becoming a “top-down institution,” where college policy choices are made regardless of faculty and staff feedback or input.
“Irregardless of how the survey was done, it’s important what comes out of that,” Mabry said during a recent meeting with The Lowell Sun. “You take what comes out and then you have to deal with it. That’s critical. That’s the most important thing.”
Approximately 170 Massachusetts Community College Council union members participated in the survey.
Student enrollment at community colleges throughout the state has decreased by around 21 percent, whereas Middlesex is down by just under 17 percent. With less students, the college has also been reducing its workforce.
“It’s a challenging environment, a lot of stress in there that comes out in different ways,” Mabry said. “They’re not going to yell at the governor, they’re going to yell at me.”
Mabry and Middlesex Board of Trustees chairman James Campbell said one of the major issues addressed in the survey was communication, but faculty union president Joanna DelMonaco said that isn’t the main concern.
“The concern, to me, if you look at the responses and how people felt, is we don’t feel we’re being led as effectively as we could be,” DelMonaco said.
Mabry recently met with Middlesex faculty and staff to address the concerns and plan for future discussions on the topic.
“This is a great place. It’s been a great place for the almost 50 years it’s been around and that’s from the community that works here,” DelMonaco said. “So it’s everybody that makes this place great. I’m not worried about the college per se, but I think we’ll find time to continue to talk. (Mabry) is receiving the criticisms as constructive criticisms. That’s what he said to me.”
“What I heard there is they want me to be more visionary and more passionate and talk about the big picture with them,” Mabry said. “That’s on me. So that’s going to be my goal.”