The search for Butler Community College’s next president continued Friday as finalist Dr. Charlotte Hatfield toured Butler’s campuses and met with community members and Butler employees.
“First of all, thank you for coming,” Hatfield told those who came to meet her Friday evening at the Hubbard Welcome Center. “I appreciate you being here. Thank you for taking time to be part of this process.”
Hatfield began by talking about growing up on a farm in Edwards County.
“I lived on a farm in Kinsley,” she said. “We had a family pew in the Methodist church. We were part of the community.”
She said the work ethic she acquired from growing up in western Kansas has served her well, and that she enjoys being able to relate with other people.
Throughout her career, she has spent time in academia as well as the public relations and communications field.
“I like always learning something new,” she said.
Hatfield most recently served as president of Washington State Community College in Ohio. Prior to that she served for two years as executive dean of the Elkhart Campus of Ivy Tech State College and for two years prior to that was executive director for Public Relations and Marketing for Ivy Tech State College System in Indiana. She also has professional experience in communications, media and public relations in the private sector. Hatfield holds a Ph.D. from the Community College Leadership Program, University of Texas at Austin; master’s and bachelor’s degrees in journalism from UT Austin; and an associate of arts in English from Hutchinson Community College.
During Friday's forum, Hatfield also addressed her departure from her job at Washington State Community College. She served in this capacity from 2002-2011.
During Hatfield's time as president, there was an employee whom she felt was not the right fit for a particular job. This employee had held the position for several years.
According to Hatfield, she tried to work with this employee to improve productivity, but the employee was resistant to Hatfield's suggestions.
“We worked on this for years and none of those options were working,” said Hatfield. “I realized the situation wasn't going to change. I presented to the board to not renew this individual's contract. This wasn't easy. The person was simply not the right person for the job.”
The college's board agreed with Hatfield and voted to not renew the employee's contract.
According to Hatfield, the individual then began to speak with certain board members about what had happened. These board members then began to rethink the decision to not renew the employee's contract.
Page 2 of 3 - “At the same time, she was talking with Washington State retirees in the community,” said Hatfield. “Her message to them was the president is changing the college.”
Hatfield acknowledged she was indeed working to change the college.
“I was, because our funding was changing, our enrollment was changing,” she said. “If you're not changing, you're probably stagnant.”
Hatfield also said the local newspaper got involved. This newspaper, according to Hatfield, enjoyed controversy and did not verify the information it published.
“They certainly did not contact me,” she said. “Accuracy was not important in their reporting.”
This was not an easy time for Hatfield.
“So all of this is happening, there's a lot of tension,” she said. “A lot of rumors, a lot of speculation. The board cannot find its way to come together again. If they could not act as a whole, they couldn't support me.”
After several months of this, someone told her she wasn't going to be able to fix the issues at hand.
“Those individuals had a campaign to discredit me and to remove me from office,” said Hatfield. “At that point, I put in my letter of retirement.”
Following her retirement, Hatfield continued to work for the college as a consultant.
After spending a year in retirement, she decided retirement didn’t agree with her.
“I'm just not a good fit with retirement,” she said.
Hatfield said she would hate to put all of her experience and knowledge on the shelf, so that is why she is seeking another job.
She likes the idea of working for Butler because she believes it is a good fit for her both professionally and personally.
“It is a very solid institution and it is closer to my family,” she said.
Hatfield was asked about the time she spent as a teacher. Hatfield replied that she spent 10 years teaching undergraduate and graduate classes at Ball State University.
She was also asked about her experience in fundraising, working with state legislators and her management style, which has been perceived by some as abusive.
“I am a collaborative leader,” she said. “Being open to other people's ideas, I think that is an admirable leadership style. That is really what I've done.”
Hatfield was also asked about what she is reading now, her hobbies, how she would make sure faculty members have the resources they need, how she would approach collective bargaining of employee contracts and something she was proud to accomplish.
Page 3 of 3 - In her closing remarks, Hatfield noted she would not be at Butler to build up her resume in order to move somewhere else in a few years.
“I said that I thought it was a good fit,” she said, “my experiences with what Butler needs. I would perceive it as a capstone to my career.”
She said just as a capstone course or project comes at the end of a student's time in school, she would view her time at Butler as her finale.
“Your capstone course is where you bring it all together,” she said. “The culmination of a career. I would bring together all that I've learned and practice it here. I'm not here to build a resume to go somewhere else.”