Edison faculty, students react to Browder leaving

CREATED Apr 27, 2011

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FORT MYERS - Faculty are hoping some big changes will lead to a new beginning.

Staff and students at Edison State College are still absorbing the major changes announced at Tuesday's board of trustees meeting.

It was announced the college's president will step down earlier than planned and Vice President James Browder is gone.

Those changes are coming after mounting outrage about how the college is being run. Now, after two decades at the top, president Ken Walker will call it quits in 2013.

The house of cards started to crumble after a Fox 4 investigation showed Walker's total compensation was more than $800,000 and that Browder received a nearly $100,000 total compensation raise after just two months on the job.

Faculty representative Marty Ambrose says she's happy with Walker's decision to step down.

"Do you want him to step down sooner?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"I think I'm comfortable with Dr. Walker's decision right now."

Amrbose says she still questions his salary but says the move may appease faculty who have been calling for Walker to step aside.

As for Browder, she's glad he's gone.

"I personally think it was the right decision," said Ambrose. "[After] I spoke out at the first meeting about salaries I was very concerned about retaliation. And now I feel that's going to improve a lot now that Dr. Browder's gone."

Browder fired up faculty after becoming the second highest paid Edison employee after just two months.

He's now accepted a $175,000 buyout.

"I think the faculty is relieved that some of the pressure is off," said Ambrose.

STUDENTS ALSO HAPPY ABOUT THE RECENT CHANGES.

"I think it's a good thing that he's leaving," one student said. "Because this affected everyone it's affecting students it's affecting teachers."

Taking Browder's place will be Dr. Steve Atkins, who is popular among faculty. Atkins stepped down last month in protest and will be paid for his time away.

"I think it's hugely important," said Ambrose, acknowledging that faculty went to bat for him.

She says Atkins is the right person to lead the college through their re-accreditation process. And she feels things are moving in the right direction now.

"I'm just hoping our college can get back on track," said Ambrose. "I love my school."

MATT GRANT, REPORTER
mgrant@fox4now.com