Last month, Clark College President Karin Edwards announced that two vice presidents were leaving Clark, including Bill Belden, the vice president of student affairs.
In an interview with the Indy, Belden confirmed his contract was terminated.
“I was given no reason for her [President Karin Edwards] decision to end my contract except that she wants to move in a different direction,” Belden said.
The Indy reached out to President Edwards in a separate interview. Edwards declined to elaborate, explaining that it involved confidential personnel matters.
Belden has been the VP of Student Affairs since August 2010.
Student Affairs at Clark includes the Financial Aid Office, Advising, the Tutoring Center and many other departments. During his time, Student Affairs implemented guided pathways and created the Veteran’s Center, Welcome Center and the Penguin Pantry.
Michele Cruse will serve as Interim VP of Student Affairs until Clark finds a permanent replacement.
“Since Dr. Cruse worked for Dr. Edwards at PCC – this existing relationship should already be established. My priority is to ensure we maintain momentum on current initiatives and transition leadership responsibilities,” Belden said.
There was no public process for the selection of Cruse. President Edwards said this was to avoid delay in Student Affairs’ current operations.
“Delay would be harmful to our process, our staff and our students. As in the past, the college has made interim announcements in other areas such as Communications and Marketing and Human Resources. This is the norm and well within the President’s purview,” President Edwards said.
Cruse will be leading Student Affairs at what Belden said is a challenging time for the department. According to Belden, there are several problems Student Affairs faces at the moment. These include declining enrollment and budget shortfall concerns, unstable operations in PeopleSoft and staff morale, amid all the changes Clark continues to face.
In selecting the Interim VP, President Edwards said that Cruse “has the skills and ability to improve processes and move initiatives forward to increase enrollment, retention and student success.”
Belden is going to help Cruse with the onboarding process, hoping to ensure stability at Student Affairs for the time being. Afterward, he will finish a few projects currently in progress, figuring it would make the transition to new leadership easier.
“I am committed to supporting our employees and students through this transition,” he said. “This change was not my decision; however, I have dedicated 10 years to building programs and services to meet the changing needs of our students. I am not about to disrupt this important work.”
President Edwards acknowledged in our interview that the timing of this decision is not great for morale, given Clark’s continued changes due to the pandemic, remote operations, growing pains related to ctcLink and the economy.
Cruse has started meeting with teams this week and is already working with Belden through the transition.