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Ivy Tech hirings scrupulously ethical

College network’s president counters newspaper’s claims

Media consultants will provide advice that when a person or institution is unfairly attacked or mischaracterized in the newspaper, the person or institution should just leave it alone. They will say not to respond as a response will either add credibility to the story or facilitate additional comments and editorials. Or the consultants will offer advice that the newspapers will not print anything you send to them nor the full details around the actual facts. They will only print the story that meets their intent. Based on recent stories and editorials (including “Ethical lapses are endemic at Ivy Tech,” Oct. 27), it is apparent the media are either ignoring the facts or choosing to be opportunistic and sensationalize the story. Here are the facts and full details.

Ivy Tech Community College is pleased to have Rob Carter as a member of our team. He is uniquely qualified for this job (head of statewide security). As a former county sheriff, Carter has an extensive law enforcement background and an impeccable statewide reputation among the law enforcement community. I have known him for more than six years and have been impressed with his leadership at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He led a highly complex organization that is one of the best in the nation. The State of Indiana and DNR were nationally recognized during Carter’s tenure.

He was the best candidate, and his references were exceptionally strong. We are delighted he chose to join Ivy Tech and continue serving the people of this state over many other opportunities in the private sector.

Ivy Tech followed all normal procedures relative to his hiring. Any mischaracterization is false. This position was advertised, candidates were reviewed and interviewed, references and background checks were conducted and the best candidate was hired.

This newspaper has repeatedly made accusations about employees at Ivy Tech. We have met with the editorial board for more than six years, answered every question and addressed every concern. During my tenure, we have filled more than 115 cabinet-level positions in our 14 regions. I have personally interviewed almost every candidate who was a finalist. Recently, the newspaper questioned the hiring of Chris Ruhl as our chief financial officer. Ruhl was the CFO for the state under Gov. Mitch Daniels. Under his leadership, Indiana was recognized as the most fiscally sound state in the nation. He helped lead this state financially during some of most difficult times our economy has ever seen. If Ruhl can be the CFO for the state of Indiana, he is certainly qualified to be CFO for Ivy Tech. Why should we not seek out the best possible people to work at the state’s community college? Why does the newspaper unfairly attack Ruhl? The only reason we can determine is because he worked in state government.

It is bad enough that Ivy Tech is in the crosshairs of those efforts, but it would be even worse if good people began to shrink from seeking public employment as a result. After all, if their skills and knowledge are dismissed and every relationship scrutinized, why wouldn’t they? I’m optimistic enough to believe that is not yet the case, and I hope we never get there. If that threat becomes a reality, however, our public entities will be irrevocably harmed — and the Journal Gazette will share some of the blame.

Newspapers have also printed stories about our chairman of the board, Bruce Walkup, sending inappropriate emails. Unfortunately, the stories are laced with inaccuracies and false information. Some will question whether it was appropriate for the chair of the Board of Trustees, appointed by the governor, to send offensive emails. Although he has that right, leadership at Ivy Tech felt it was inappropriate and asked him to stop some months ago. He followed our desires and refrained from sending additional emails. Further, Ivy Tech did not read or forward these emails. They were deleted.

The emails are offensive to many people, but the newspaper’s desire to sensationalize the emails was unfair to the school. He apologized for his actions and the damage he did to the college.

We are hopeful that the media can focus on some of terrific success stories here at Ivy Tech. Take some direction from the Wall Street Journal, which just featured our Associate Accelerated Program (ASAP) in its publication. The Wall Street Journal was aware of these other stories being written about but when it learned of the facts, realized it was not the story, but instead these hard-working ASAP students were the story.

There are more stories like that at Ivy Tech worth sharing.

Thomas J. Snyder is president of Ivy Tech. He wrote this for The Journal Gazette.

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