GALLIPOLIS - The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College now have permission from the state to continue working under one president.
According to a summary on the state's legislation website, substitute House Bill 276, “permits the boards of trustees of Rio Grande Community College and the University of Rio Grande, which is a private non-profit corporation that shares the community college's facilities, to enter into a contract providing for the University of Rio Grande to operate the community college.
“In addition, the community college may have its president also serve as president of the University of Rio Grande in accordance with the terms of the contract between the two institutions. The salary, benefits and other compensation paid to the joint president are the sole responsibility of the community college.”
Questions arose as to whether the community college, a public entity, could ethically be governed by a president of a private university as stated in the Ohio Revised Code 102.04, which prohibits public officials from receiving compensation or services from an agency other than the one in which that public official is employed.
The section of the bill naming Rio Grande allows for the two entities to enter into a contract and be governed under the same president as long as that position is under the control of the community college.
According to David Freel of the Ohio Ethics Commission, the bill clearly allows the community to continue to govern the actions of the community college and its president.
“It's a guarantee to the public that they will control the public employee,” Freel said.
According to RGCC Board Chair Thomas Karr, the bill was an attempt to clean up the original agreement between the two entities that was over 30 years old.
The university and the community college have been governed under one president from the community college's founding in 1974 until the latest president, Dr. Barry Dorsey, stepped down in January 2006.
Since then, the community college and university have been operating under seperate interim presidents - Dr. Greg Sojka for the university and Dr. Herman Koby for the community college.
According to Karr, there has been no time line placed on the bringing the two institutions under one president.