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Rochester community college head under fire for spending, hiring decisions

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Barely 18 months after taking over as president of Rochester Community and Technical College, Leslie McClellon is under fire from faculty, staff and students for the way she's managing the institution.

Saying they have "grave concerns" about McClellon's leadership of the school, leaders of the faculty, employees union and Student Senate sent a joint letter to the chancellor of the MnSCU system asking for his immediate attention, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports.

"In her 18 months as president, her management has harmed virtually every corner of the campus," said the letter.

The criticism became vocal a few months ago when McClellon was officially installed as president, and the school celebrated its 100th anniversary.

'Lavish' ceremony?

Expenses for the events included $20,000 to hire a jazz musician from Louisiana, $6,800 on a ceremonial academic mace, and $3,200 for a golden "chain of office" that McClellon wore for her installation (which you can see in the photo at top), says Med City Beat.

At a time when the two-year campus is facing an enrollment decline and a $2 million budget deficit, some critics called those expenses "lavish," said the Post-Bulletin.

Tension has also been building for months over McClellon's handling of personnel decisions and cuts to some programs on campus, the Star Tribune reports.

Questions about hiring

The situation came to a head early this month when McClellon hired a new interim vice president, Anthony Brown, without disclosing that he had left a previous position under a cloud.

Brown had worked at a college in North Carolina for nearly 15 years, but resigned in 2013 after an investigation found significant problems handling sexual assault complaints by the campus police, which Brown supervised, according to the Star Tribune.

McClellon's announcement of Brown's hiring didn't include any information about his tenure at the school, even though he worked there for nearly half his professional career.

Once that information became public, McClellon announced that Brown would not be taking the job after all.

Other personnel moves she's made have raised concerns as well, including the dismissal of two popular administrators.

McClellon's response

For her part, McClellon says the controversy is to be expected when there's a change in leadership.

"I appreciate the questions and concerns addressed in the letter and continue to welcome the opportunity to discuss those concerns to those represented on the communication," McClellon said in a statement released Monday, the Post-Bulletin reports. "We are encouraged by those who are taking the time to dialogue with us in order to address the issues."

It's unclear what, if any action will be taken by MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, who hired McClellon. He released a statement saying he's aware of the concerns being expressed.

"The campus community is engaging in open and honest discussion about some very important and very sensitive issues, and I support the ongoing dialogue," he said.

RCTC is a two-year college that offers associates degrees in a variety of programs. It has an enrollment of about 12,000 full-time and part-time students.

McClellon came to Rochester from the Community College of Denver where she was a vice president.

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