116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Kirkwood Community College board of trustees next week is planning to meet in closed session to discuss a recent report of plagiarism involving the school's president, Mick Starcevich.
In a statement this week, board Chair Lois Bartelme said she and her fellow trustees are aware of the 'deep concern” among some faculty over recent comments Starcevich made.
'I plan to call the board into closed session at our regularly scheduled board meeting on Feb. 11,” Bartelme said. 'I ask for everyone's cooperation and patience until the board of trustees has an opportunity to meet and discuss the situation.”
Kirkwood officials didn't speculate on what, specifically, the board might discuss - including whether possible sanctions or reprimands might be considered.
'It's in the board's hands now,” said Justin Hoehn, Kirkwood marketing coordinator. 'They will determine the next step.”
Starcevich last week apologized to faculty and staff for remarks he made during an annual employee recognition event on Martin Luther King Day - Jan. 18. During those original remarks, Starcevich referenced instances in which people make negative comments about community colleges.
Specifically, according to Starcevich's apology, he shared a story of a high school counselor who suggested that attending a community college was not like attending a 'real” college. As part of his remarks, Starcevich asked if any in the group had heard similar comments, and many affirmed they had.
'While I have personally heard comments such as those I described in the story, I should not have told the story as if it were my own,” Starcevich said during his Jan. 26 apology. 'Regrettably, I failed to properly attribute my source, which was a New York Times blog article written by Kristin O'Keefe in February of 2015, and for this I am deeply sorry.”
Starcevich said he told the story to illustrate one of the challenges of community college work and also to remind the employees of the value they provide in educating and training students.
'I am fully aware of the potential negative impact this decision may have on me and my reputation and the college as a whole,” Starcevich said. 'My hope is that you recognize my passion for what we all do to educate our students and the great value Kirkwood provides to our community.”
It was in that spirit, he said, that he made the comments.
'I trust you understand my goal was to celebrate your work and not to use another person's ideas for personal gain,” Starcevich said. 'Nonetheless, I failed to properly give credit to the original source, and for this I sincerely apologize.”
Hoehn said he doesn't know whether some of those who heard Starcevich's original speech confronted him with concerns or whether the president decided to apologize on his own. It's also unclear whether students, faculty, and staff contacted board members directly.
'I think that once he realized his mistake, he wanted to get everyone together to talk about what had happened,” Hoehn said.
In board Chair Bartelme's response, she applauded Starcevich for apologizing and admitting his mistake.
'The board has been and is very supportive of Mick's leadership of the college during the past 12 years,” she said. 'We are very proud of the many outstanding things that have occurred.”
Kirkwood, which is based in Cedar Rapids but has campuses and regional centers in Johnson, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Benton, and Washington counties, includes among its academic and student policies one on cheating and plagiarism.
That policy holds students responsible for authenticating assignment submissions and states an inability to do is sufficient grounds for failing the assignment. Penalties include failure of an assignment on the first offense, possible failure of a course on second offense, and possible suspension following a third offense.