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Montgomery College Trustees Vote to Oust President

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By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 4, 2009

Trustees of Montgomery College removed President Brian K. Johnson from office late Thursday night, voting to place him on immediate administrative leave, with pay, and not to renew his contract.

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Hercules Pinkney, just-retired vice president and provost of the college's Germantown campus, assumes the interim presidency Friday.

"We arrived at these decisions after much discussion and deliberation," said Michael C. Lin, chair of the board of trustees, speaking at the conclusion of a four-hour, closed-door meeting. "We make this decision for the greater good of Montgomery College and the entire community at large."

Johnson could not be reached for comment immediately after the vote. The trustees' action followed a no-confidence vote on Johnson by faculty members last week and allegations of mismanagement and overspending compiled by faculty leaders over the summer.

Lin said the vote to remove Johnson was "overwhelming" and came after "a long, long discussion, as you can tell by the hour." Trustees met at 6 p.m. and emerged shortly after 10.

Johnson's contract runs through June. He will continue to draw his full salary, $233,210, until then.

Outside the college administration building, about 50 faculty members, staff members and other supporters of the faculty's position -- most wearing "Support MC" stickers -- had gathered earlier Thursday night to urge the board to act.

"It's a shame it came to this," said Joan Gough, chair of the Academic Assembly. "But something has to happen."

Faculty leaders alleged in a nine-page investigative report that Johnson had "destabilized" the college in 2 1/2 years of leadership by disappearing from office for days at a time, missing important events, intimidating staff and overspending with his corporate credit card.

On Wednesday, Johnson condemned the investigation as "a vicious attack on my credibility." He dismissed the report as "lies and half-truths" and offered explanations for some of the lapses alleged in the faculty document.

Faculty members had pushed for trustees to place Johnson on leave and to investigate his activities. Trustees went further, Lin said, based on "the totality of all the input we received over the last year or so" on Johnson's administration. Lin said the faculty report was "one of the factors that we considered." He would not name the others.

News spread quickly through the college community.

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