Published: Oct 27, 2011 2:54 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 27, 2011 3:53 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Students and faculty at Edison State College are concerned how the recent shake up within the administration will affect the reputation of the school.

Tuesday night, the Board of Trustees voted to fire Dr. Steve Atkins, Vice President of Academic Affairs. The move was recommended earlier this month by the college's president Dr. Kenneth Walker, who said Atkins did not react properly when he discovered students were being allowed to substitute the wrong courses to graduate.

Before Tuesday's board meeting, WINK News learned another top administrator, Dr. Robert Beeson, had also been recommended by Walker for termination. Walker said Beeson had also not done enough in response to illegal course-swapping.

The board is expected to discuss Beeson's termination at next month's meeting.

Some within the faculty and student body, however, believe the wrong people are being punished. Dozens of people spoke out at the Board of Trustees meeting, hoping to influence members to fire Walker instead. Many said Edison's president had acted irresponsibly and abused his power.

There was a motion from the board to discuss Walker's employment at the school, which was defeated.

Still, some think that's a sign board members are starting to listen.

Professor Wendy Chase hopes they take action soon, saying the turmoil within the administration is causing the campus to lose morale.

"No one knows from one day to the next who's going to be gone," Chase said. "Students are now asking more questions and they're asking more questions with greater urgency."

Chase says the school's image is already starting to crumble, noting that at least one major donor is pulling funding from the school.

"Dr. Walker is compromising the integrity, not only of our degrees, but of our reputation. Our institution is at stake," Chase said.

Sean Hartman, a Student Government Senator, is losing faith in board and asks why it doesn't take seriously the calls for Walker's resignation.

"It's just shocking that this is an organization that's meant to help people, and they're not listening to the dozens upon dozens of people and maybe more," Hartman said.

Mary Lee Mann, the Board of Trustees Chair, is defending the board's decision and says members are only doing what they think is right for the school.

"Dr. Walker and the college and the board have not been well-served by some of our administrators in recent years, and that has made the difficulties we are experiencing now," Mann said.

According to Mann, Walker is targeting the right people.

"There were several layers under him that should have been involved that didn't do their jobs," Mann said.

Meantime, the school and board are facing pressure from state lawmakers to get to the root of the course-swapping scandal.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn, with the Budget Subcommittee on Higher Education Appropriations, says representatives from Edison have already met with them to discuss how the problem went unchecked for so long.

"All of those members of the board must be thoroughly knowledgeable about what's going on at this school and must have some oversight responsibilities," Lynn says.

Lynn says Walker has been invited to come to the Capitol and speak to them about what he knows. As of Wednesday morning, she has not gotten a response.

"Certainly I would hope that the board will ask a great many questions about what's going on there, and they'll be as sensitive to the concerns that we have, as we have been in terms of protecting our students," said Lynn.



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