GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Jill Boyle, a candidate for the post of president at Colorado Mountain College, withdrew her name from the list of finalists on Sunday in a letter to the college board of trustees, which was forwarded to the Post Independent by CMC Trustee Mary Ellen Denomy.
Denomy offered no comment on Boyle’s decision and letter to the board of trustees.
Boyle’s withdrawal of her name from consideration, according to her letter, was due to “the anonymous but apparently orchestrated effort to cast a pall of unwarranted controversy over my name.”
The CMC board of trustees is due to meet today, starting at 11 a.m. at the campus in Aspen, to discuss the search for a replacement for the former president of the college, Stan Jensen, who stepped down in late 2012 with a severance payment of $500,000. Jensen had served as president since 2008.
Boyle, 49, was hired as senior vice president at CMC in 2010, about a year after she left a position as president of the Florida Keys Community College (FKCC), where she had been serving for two years in what apparently became an increasingly embattled position.
“I was hired to turn around a failing institution, and I accomplished this,” she wrote in her letter of withdrawal. “Unfortunately, I was an outsider in a small island town where there was considerable vested interest in maintaining the status quo despite ten straight years of falling enrollment. The resulting opposition became intensely malicious, personal and even threatening to the point where I had no choice but to move on.”
In departing from FKCC in September 2009, Boyle took a leave of absence that remained in effect until her three-year contract expired June 15, 2010, keeping her $157,000-a-year salary and benefits, including $36,000 a year for housing, according to the agreement that reportedly was unanimously approved by the FKCC Board of Trustees in September of that year.
Earlier this year, Boyle was picked to temporarily lead CMC after Jensen left. After interim president Charles Dassance was hired and she had returned to her former duties, she threw her hat into the ring of contenders for the top job.
While Boyle seems to have won many supporters in her years with CMC, once the search process for a new president got under way the college, local news media and others began receiving anonymous emails and letters urging an investigation into her time at FKCC.
A Post Independent probe into the matter turned up resistance to Boyle’s candidacy among CMC’s teaching staff, as well as news accounts about her time at FKCC that highlighted the fact that among the administrative staff of some FKCC college departments she was considered harsh, divisive and hostile.
“Former and current college employees and faculty have accused the 45-year-old president of verbal and mental abuse, inflating enrollment, paranoia and having a ‘hit list’ of employees she wants gone. Some have called her ‘crazy,’” wrote Cammy Clark, a reporter for the Miami Herald covering the Florida Keys.
“Landesberg-Boyle [her name at the time] admits she has a ‘potty mouth’ and much room for improvement in her abrasive management style,” Clark continued. “But she and her supporters say she is the victim of a malicious movement to oust her that began before her first day on the job in August 2007.”
Clark also reported that Boyle had boosted enrollment at the school after years of decline, and had attracted significant outside funding that was important in “upgrading academics and beautifying the institutional gray campus.”
In an email to the Post Independent. Clark wrote, “I personally think Jill did a good job, but she ruffled a lot of feathers with her unfiltered manner. She had a lot of people on her side who were happy to see the changes, but the longtime Conchs [colloquial term for a native or inhabitant of the Keys] won out.”
The other finalists in the search for a new CMC president are Hank Dunn, president of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina; Carrie Hauser, a former administrator with Metro State College in Denver who currently works with the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation of Kansas City; Leah Bornstein, president of Coconino Community College in Arizona and a former CMC administrator; and Alan Walker, former president of Upper Iowa University.
Sources familiar with the search process have said four of the five finalists have been subjected to smear campaigns from anonymous sources, but that the one against Boyle has seemed the most virulent.
Boyle’s decision to withdraw from the presidential search, she wrote in her letter to the trustees, “will have absolutely no bearing on my continued commitment to Colorado Mountain College and its mission. I will carry out my responsibilities as both senior executive and advocate as I have done since joining the school three years ago.”
In closing, Boyle wrote, “Being part of Colorado Mountain College’s future, in any capacity, is all that matters to me. And it is everything that I am working for.”
CMC is a junior college district with 11 locations in nine counties along the spine of the Colorado Rockies, with sites in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle, among other towns.