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Foothill College president ousted mid-year amid conflict with faculty

Original post made on Oct 26, 2021

Foothill President Thuy Nguyen is out of a job, with the district's board voting Oct. 25 not to renew her contract. Internal strife and a 'no confidence vote' from the academic senate preceded the decision.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 26, 2021, 2:16 PM

Comments (9)

Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2021 at 8:08 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

Very interesting. I wonder if this has anything to do with the aggressive cancelling of classes and closing/consolidating of department offices that started well before COVID.

The Academic Senate no-confidence resolution includes the following:

"WHEREAS, in contrast to her job description, President Nguyen has failed to “cultivate increased involvement in shared/participatory governance,” and as a result we have a governance process that renders the voices of faculty to be of no possible consequence or value other than to rubber stamp or validate decisions that have already been made, even in those areas explicitly requiring collegial consultation with faculty called out in Title 5and FHDA Board Policy 2223."


Posted by Mark
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2021 at 10:59 am

Mark is a registered user.

So, tenured faculty who feel totally secure in passing no confidence resolutions claim they fear retribution if they speak up about disagreements with Ms Nguyen who apparently has no similar job protections.


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 27, 2021 at 1:07 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Disclaimer: This is all my Opinion from personal experience with Foothill College until the Covid shutdown. Some people may feel differently.

In response to Jeremy Erman's comment, sometime during the teens, Foothill College savaged both the Fine Arts and the PE Departments, canceled most of their on-campus classes, and combined them into one Department, with brilliant Art History instructor Simon Pennington as Dean. If there ever was a more bizarre combination than PE and Fine Arts, then I'd be hard pressed to think of one. There seemed to be growing concern being expressed by Foothill on-campus faculty, one example being the Faculty Senate, which was concerned about the general direction Foothill was heading.

More generally, Foothill seems (to me) to being relegated to 2nd class status relative to DeAnza College. Most of the 4-year transfer students seem to have been moved to DeAnza, and Foothill with getting relatively more remedial-education classes, along with having many of its other on-campus classes canceled and moved to online only status. This started several years before Covid. I've been wondering for quite some time if the ultimate aim is to turn Foothill into a satellite, mostly online virtual campus for all but the most special, remedial, and basic classes ---- plus their 2-year associate degree classes, most of which require hands-on experience and therefore must which must be on campus. Examples are Dental Hygiene, X-Ray Tech, and Vet Tech programs, all superb. It's really bad they don't have a 2-year pre-nursing AA too.


Posted by TerryR
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2021 at 2:58 pm

TerryR is a registered user.

I wish this article had gone into some of the substantive issues, rather than just being all about closed sessions, failure to collaborate, equity agenda, and other vagueness. I didn't learn anything from the article about what Nguyen's policies are that rub the faculty the wrong way and what the faculty itself wants. Please address substantive issues in your articles, rather than just reporting on people sniping at each other.


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2021 at 9:48 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

TerryR, the article contains a link to the Academic Senate's "No confidence" resolution, but since the Board then voted in closed session and did not release details of its deliberations, I don't think the Weekly's reporters had access to many more specific details. The faculty's complaints have apparently been ongoing for a long time, but have mostly been kept from view, so it's extraordinary that the Board acted on them like this. I think we'll have to wait and see if more details come out in the coming weeks.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 27, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Actually the article also included a link to "74 pages of written comments" where you can find quite a lot of details of the disagreements between the faculty (both tenured and non-tenured) and the president.


Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 27, 2021 at 11:56 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

You're right, Brian; I saw those comments referred to in the Daily Post today, but forgot that Palo Alto Online had also referenced them.

To be clear, these are public comments sent to the Board of Trustees, and include viewpoints on all sides of the issue, but the majority of comments are in strong favor of the "no confidence" vote, and the Board of Trustees obviously agreed with them.


Posted by Cat
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 28, 2021 at 7:30 pm

Cat is a registered user.

As a student at Foothill, I'm relieved. The lack of IRL and synchronous class options have been dismal and it really feels like we're the second-rate school. She gutted countless programs and was horrific to many of the faculty. She claimed to be about equity, but it's been anything but equitable so far. As a serious student trying to transfer, I will be switching to De Anza at the winter quarter. It only takes a brief look at the schedules at the different schools to understand why DA is doing so much better.


Posted by KEN HOROWITZ
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 29, 2021 at 9:18 am

KEN HOROWITZ is a registered user.

As a faculty member at Foothill College for over 45 years, there is more to this story than reported. Thuy Nguyen is a great person and a great leader. She was hired to close the achievement gap and was being successful in meeting those goals.
To accomplish those goals, changes needed to happen. Unfortunately, the faculty were not receptive to these changes. The Silicon Valley/San Jose Branch of the NAACP wrote in their letter to the Board of Trustees « This is a challenging process, particularly for people who do not see themselves as needing to change ».Thuy asked the faculty to continue the mediation process to continue to work out their differences, but the Faculty Senate passed a no confidence resolution with no remedy. They wanted the Board to fire President Nguyen. Her well regarded expertise and accomplishments on racially equity is renowned. She will take her talents to a higher level, and make a difference in the lives of our current generation of students. I wish her well!


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