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Mt. Hood board member resigns, citing cancer at college

Ralph Yates wants secretary of state to investigate 'conduct'

Citing weariness with the Mt. Hood Community College teachers' union as a contributing factor, Ralph Yates, a 13-year veteran of the college's board, has resigned his post effective Sept. 1, and called for the state to investigate the college.

Yates announced his resignation during the Wednesday, June 13, board meeting.

'It was my intention to quietly leave this place as so many other frustrated board members have,' he said. 'However I have recently been approached by courageous individuals within this college revealing possible conduct by members of the college community. I have shared my concerns with the secretary of state of Oregon.'

In an interview, Yates declined to specify what he had shared with Kate Brown, secretary of state. However, he said he might be more forthcoming in the future.

'I have grown weary of the seemingly unending negotiations and struggle with the college's faculty association,' Yates said. 'I have also been dismayed by managerial missteps and lack of purposeful direction often in the face of collective and individual faculty actions.

'There is a cancer, I believe, in this institution, represented by the absence of a culture of respect and presence of intimidation, confrontation and fear, not infrequently and certainly not exclusively, carried out by members of this fulltime faculty,' he said. 'This must end.'

Sara Williams, president of the Mt. Hood Faculty Association, acknowledged last year's contract negotiations with the college - which nearly ended in a strike - were contentious, but said she didn't know why Yates was resigning.

'I don't know what the instigating happening is, but the timing is surprising to me,' she said of Yates' resignation.

Meanwhile, Board Chairman Dave Shields said he did not know what led to Yates' decision to leave, but did say last year's battle with the union was not exactly a pleasant experience for board members.

'Things were contentious,' he said. 'It's part of the process.'

He added that the board had made efforts to reconcile with its teachers.

'There's been an attempt to create a conciliatory atmosphere between all units on campus,' he said, adding Yates is a valued board member.

'We wish him well and thank him for his years of service,' Shields said.