Changes at Lewis and Clark

Caroline Hussey, Reporter

Tuesday night, October 8th, the Lewis and Clark Community College board of trustees took a vote. It totaled 4-3 to not renew Dr. Dale Chapman’s contract, which ends on June 30, 2020. Though the majority of the staff approves of Dr. Chapman’s’ status, he will not stay on as president.


Long time professor at Lewis and Clark, Peter Hussey, said, “Over his time at Lewis and Clark, nearly 30 years, he has brought the college from what was sometimes referred to as Last Chance Community, to a place respected around the state, nation, and world.” 


In terms of helping the campus, Dr. Chapman has done a lot for the community college. “To name a few,” said Hussey, “Visionary ideas regarding programs, partnerships, and building projects. Fostering financial opportunities to fund these things. Campus improvements and beautification, including a focus on a greener technology, building and landscape.” 


So if Dr. Chapman has done so much for Lewis and Clark, why was his contract not renewed by the board of trustees? One of the main reasons the board decided this was financial concerns, mainly Dr. Chapman’s salary and position. 


Jennifer Cline, also a professor at Lewis and Clark, stated that, “What concerns me the most is most members on this board are brand new, and are making major changes to the campus before getting to know the bigger system. Even if it is time for a change in leadership, Dr. Chapman should be a part of the transition process. I’m afraid that won’t happen.” 


Besides these facts, many people who work at and attend Lewis and Clark, as well as people in the community, greatly opposed not renewing Dr. Chapman’s contract. 


At the open public meeting on Tuesday night, nearly five hundred people were in attendance. Some of these people include State representative Monica Bristow, mayor of Alton, Brent Walker, mayor of Godfrey, Mike McCormick, as well as several business owners from around the Alton and Godfrey Area, and Lewis and Clark staff members. Most of these people supported Dr. Chapman. 


Before the official meeting and vote took place, the public at their time to speak to the board of trustees, each speaker getting three minutes. In total there were 26 speakers, all but one being in favor of Dr. Chapman.  


Cline also stated that, “People spoke for over an hour about what he meant to them. Many people wore “red for ed”.


This situation is obviously causing a lot of distress on the community at Lewis and Clark, and some claim that the college could be in big trouble when Dr. Chapman leaves.    


“This could be potentially catastrophic,” says Hussey, “His knowledge of the college, experience of 30 years as president… connections and partnerships with local leaders, schools, businesses as well as state, national and international connections are his. How will those be maintained by an entirely new individual, without that depth of knowledge and experience that has taken literally decades to foster and nurture?”