NIC trustees agree to reinstate Swayne

Nick Swayne’s trustee-imposed exile ended Monday.

North Idaho College trustees reinstated Swayne as president — three months after placing him on paid leave, and three days after a district judge ordered the board to bring him back.

Nick Swayne

Monday night’s vote still leaves the embattled Coeur d’Alene community college with two presidents on the public payroll. In a divided vote Monday night, trustees voted to keep interim president Gregory South on paid leave.

Swayne makes $230,000 annually.

Hired in December by a divided board of trustees, days after the board put Swayne on leave on another split vote, South makes $235,000 a year. South’s interim contract runs through June 2024.

On Friday, District Judge Cynthia Meyer ordered trustees to reinstate Swayne, on a temporary basis, while he pursues a lawsuit seeking permanent reinstatement.

In a rare show of unanimity, trustees voted to heed Meyer’s order.

“The majority of the board members don’t necessarily agree with the court order, but the college will abide by the court’s ruling,” board Chairman Greg McKenzie said before the vote, according to Kaye Thornbrugh of the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Many members of the audience applauded after Swayne was reinstated.

The vote to keep South on the payroll was not unanimous. Trustee Brad Corkill voted against the motion, and trustee Tarie Zimmerman abstained; the motion passed on a 3-1 vote.

“I think we should actually terminate his contract,” Zimmerman said, according to Thornbrugh’s report. “We have a president. We will as soon as we follow the court’s order. We don’t need the services of Dr. South any longer.”

The ongoing presidential churn is among a litany of issues facing NIC — and jeopardizing the college’s accreditation. A regional panel has ordered NIC to make a written case explaining why it should remain accredited.

That response is due March 31. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities is scheduled to visit the college on April 26-27 for an accreditation site review.

If NIC loses its accreditation, students would not be able to transfer credits to another school, and NIC students would be ineligible for financial aid.

More coverage from Monday’s NIC meeting from the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday