The Northwest College community — administration, staff, faculty and students — recently has endured several long months of turmoil.
A longtime staff member was fired, recruiting letters from President Prestwich — on college letterhead — created an uproar by targeting only LDS students, and two faculty members' contracts were not renewed.
The events pitted faculty and administration against each other in a power struggle of epic proportions. The NWC Board of Trustees hired a mediator to attempt to resolve the conflict, and the mediation process will begin this fall.
Since the mediator was hired, six student athletes were suspended for violating the athletic code of ethics, two of the college's vice presidents have resigned and several faculty members have retired or resigned.
According to NWC Human Resources Director Heather Kobbe, this year's turnover rate for the 82-member faculty is around 10 percent — including four resignations, three retirements and a single involuntary termination. Similarly, the 11.5 percent turnover for staff members included 12 resignations, four retirements and one involuntary termination.
At first blush, it may appear that staff and faculty are jumping ship due to the recent state of affairs. But, in reality, it's a pretty average rate of attrition. People retire, relocate or seek other job opportunities all the time — it's just part of the working world.
What is now unknown is what the NWC community's next step will be: Will the feuding groups continue to “stir the pot” and create more upheaval? Or will the parties declare a truce — albeit a tenuous one — and agree to move forward toward the common goal of creating the best possible educational opportunities and college environment for NWC students?
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.”
The last several months have been exceedingly painful for those involved, but Northwest College isn't dead — and the possible restructuring of the administration, new blood in the faculty and administration ranks and fresh faces on the college staff may well make NWC stronger than ever. It could be viewed as a rebirth of sorts.
It's now up to the parties involved to choose to be part of a solution, instead of perpetuating the problems.