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Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

A week after leave, JCCC head retires

April 22, 2006

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— A week after taking a leave following a published report of an employee's allegations of sexual harassment three years ago, Charles Carlsen retired as president of Johnson County Community College.

Carlsen, 67, sent the board of trustees a letter saying he was retiring immediately. He did not attend a hastily called special meeting Thursday at which the board voted 6-0 to approve the retirement.

The college newspaper, The Campus Ledger, published an article April 13 detailing allegations of the female employee. Carlsen denied them and said he thought the matter had been resolved satisfactorily. But he also said he would take a leave and recommend that the board appoint a third party to investigate.

In his retirement letter, Carlsen said he had done nothing wrong but was "pained to see the college distracted by issues having nothing to do with its educational mission." He also cited health concerns, noting he has had two heart attacks, an angioplasty procedure and bypass surgery.

"It is apparent to me from the stress of the last two weeks that immediate retirement is the appropriate step to take," he said.

One of the trustees, Jon Stewart, said he thought Carlsen's decision to retire is "another example of his leadership, of putting the college first."

Carlsen had headed the two-year college, which has more than 34,000 students, since 1981. He led efforts to establish the school's Cultural Education Center, which is named for him.

The board will continue with its review of the allegations and the college policies and procedures.

The student newspaper report said college employee Teresa Lee told her supervisor about incidents that she said occurred between May and November 2003. She said Carlsen repeatedly isolated her in his office, rubbed against her breast with his forearm and made unannounced visits to her office that made her uncomfortable.

While declining to comment on Carlsen's retirement, Lee said, "I am hopeful that the upcoming independent review will be effective in helping the college correct any inadequacies and gaps in current policies and procedures, and I look forward to assisting in any way that I can."

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