Being a college president has many burdens and one Georgia chief executive got an added one last week: dismissing his wife.
Steve Dougherty, president of North Metro Technical College, had to authorize the dismissal of his wife, Kate, who had held a part-time job at the college for about a year, helping with its "welfare to work" programs.
Kate Dougherty didn't do anything wrong. But Georgia's Department of Technical and Adult Education recently experienced a nepotism scandal. A senior official was forced to quit for hiring her sister's boyfriend for a $72,000-a-year job for which he lacked qualifications, and then firing him when the relationship didn't last.
Michael F. Vollmer, commissioner of the department, then set up new anti-nepotism rules, and he's serious about them.
Officials at North Metro Tech referred all questions to the commissioner's spokesman, Mike Light.
"What's going on here is that prior administration had a rather loose policy with regard to nepotism," Light said. "Commissioner Vollmer believes that there is no place in our agency for family working for family."
Light said that Kate Dougherty was qualified for the job she held, and that since the anti-nepotism rules were not in place when she was hired, her husband did nothing wrong at that time. But Vollmer expects college presidents to end any nepotism, and when he learned that both Doughertys were on the college's payroll, he told Steve Dougherty "what he expected him to do."
A "third party" made the state board aware of Kate Dougherty's employment, Light said.
All 34 of the system's college presidents have been asked to report to Vollmer on any relatives working at their institutions. To date, no other employees have lost their jobs, but Light said that the reports have yet to be reviewed. "We'll assess the information and we'll deal with it," he said.