The much-awaited review of allegations raised by some faculty members against Northern Marianas College president Sharon Y. Hart, Ph.D., began yesterday.
Board of Regents chair Juan T. Lizama confirmed that the board met yesterday in a work session to begin the review of all materials submitted to the board by both Hart and the faculty, which earlier issued a no-confidence vote against their chief executive officer.
The work session will continue today, Friday, Lizama said.
“The faculty [members] have made serious allegations, and as such, we are carefully reviewing and analyzing all the items submitted in the most expedient way possible,” he said, adding that the board appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as the board sifts through the materials.
The chairman, during a recent board meeting, had ordered that all documents submitted to the board be kept sealed until the review. These documents relate to the evidence report submitted by Faculty Senate president Amanda Angel-Diaz, who provided materials as evidence of the alleged wrongdoings of the college president. Hart's reply, which was also presented to the board, remained sealed with the evidence report.
In a statement, Lizama cautioned everyone from discussing in the open what he called “sensitive information” about the no-confidence vote.
“I would caution everyone to exercise restraint in publicly discussing sensitive information, especially discussing it in a forum that may be inappropriate,” he said.
He promised, however, that the board is committed to “openness and transparency.”
“While we are committed to openness and transparency, the process by which the board will resolve this issue will also remain dignified and respectful of all parties involved,” Lizama said, adding that the board is scheduled to meet on Jan. 7 where its findings are expected to be announced.
During last week's meeting, the board declared invalid the faculty assembly's no-confidence vote, citing the lack of quorum that, according to Lizama, violated the faculty's own bylaws and regulations.
Despite the board's determination, it accepted the faculty report and promised to look at all the evidence submitted.
The no-confidence vote against Hart alleged financial mismanagement of college funds, among others.
Documents obtained by Saipan Tribune showed that the faculty alleges that Hart spent a total of $201,755 in travel expenses in fiscal year 2012, as indicated in the President's Office 2012 Expenditure Report.
For Hart's personal reimbursement, the faculty reported total expense of $1,101 that they claim are “unwarranted expenses.”
The report also alleges unethical hiring of family members, including Hart's son and husband, and alleged interference and manipulation of the student registration process to favor a son-in-law.
Hart was earlier criticized for her involvement in the hiring of her husband as a foundation consultant, who was paid $14,000 for a 10-week project.
Other issues raised against the president is the unauthorized use of a government-issued vehicle by family members; equipment purchase without requests for proposals; interference with HRO hiring processes to benefit acquaintances; dishonored contracts; plagiarism; and others.
During last week's meeting, Hart showed the board an envelope full of materials that she described as her evidence against all these allegations.