An email from a public community college instructor in far northwestern Minnesota hipped us to the story of Dave Berger, a sociology professor at Inver Hills Community College whose story is told in Maura Lerner's report in the Strib, Inver Hills Community College instructor active in union banned from campus:
A month after a no-confidence vote against its president, Inver Hills Community College is facing another uproar, this time over the decision to ban a popular sociology instructor and union activist from campus.
Dave Berger, who has taught at Inver Hills since 1991, said he was notified last week that he was being placed on indefinite “investigatory leave” and told not to return to campus.
Berger, 52, who is the grievance representative for the faculty union, said that he was given no reason for the action and that he was told not to discuss the case with students or co-workers. “I have no idea what the reason is, and it’s just freaking me out,” he said.
Buried in the story is this gem:
The ban also means he can’t appear in a campus play that makes its debut next week. “This is what you call poetic justice,” he said with a laugh. He noted that the play, “Enemy of the People,” is about a whistleblower who is persecuted for exposing a town’s dirty secret. “I was the bad guy in that. Now somehow I switched roles.”
There's a Facebook page set up in solidarity, Bring Berger Back - BCubed. Christopher Magan has more at the Pioneer Press in Inver Hills Community College places union leader on leave; reason unclear.
Inver Hills Community College isn't the only unit in the Minnesota State College and University (MnSCU) system experiencing tension between college presidents and faculty. KXRA's Voice of Alexandria reported in MnSCU Chair Defends System’s Presidents:
The chairman of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees says the board is fully supportive of the system’s presidents. Michael Vekich made the announcement in response to recent challenges to two college presidents from the Minnesota State College Faculty union. The MnSCU chair says, “True leaders, by definition, are called to make hard decisions; decisions that can sometimes be unpopular.” The faculty union at Inver Hills Community College has scheduled a no-confidence vote against President Tim Wynes. The faculty union at Ridgewater College has asked MnSCU to intervene in their long-running dispute with President Douglas Allen. Former Rochester Community and Technical College president Leslie McClellan stepped down in December after a backlash over her spending and hiring decisions.
We'll keep an eye on this one.
Berger's engaging teaching style garnered attention in a 2013 Strib article, Inver Hills professor uses newspapers to bring history to life.
Photo: Still from a movie version of Ibsen's play, "Enemy of the People" Steve McQueen and Eric Christmas,1977. Via IMDB.
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