Lake Michigan College Board Terminates President

May 6, 2016

The board at Lake Michigan College voted to fire their new president Thursday after a public hearing.

The president, Jennifer Spielvogel, had only been with the community college since January, when she succeeded former president Robert Harrison. She had previously served as vice president of evidence and inquiry at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio. The board unanimously voted to suspend her on April 8.

The college cited reasons including $20,625 in unapproved and unauthorized costs expensed to the college, multiple policy violations, improper conduct, improper management behavior, lack of professionalism, and inadequate goals and objectives.

In a statement, the board alleges that Spielvogel failed to get approval or authorization on the following:

  • She spent nearly $2,800 on architectural design services before asking permission to remodel her office.
  • She received $6,000 in an executive discretionary fund to cover organization membership dues, charity events and build relationships with college partners, but instead she purchased personal tickets a Kenny Chesney concert and made a charitable donation in her name to the college's scholarship auction.
  • She spent more than $7,000 on items for an "elaborate, unauthorized presidential inauguration." Those items include a $3,235 ceremonial chain of office medallion, $2,185 for invitations and decorations, and $1,391 for a specially designed cap and gown to wear during the event and $365 in staff time.
  • She spent more than $5,000 in unauthorized travel to two conferences where she "presented on behalf of her former employer on topics unrelated to her experience at LMC."

Attorneys representing Spielvogel said she disputes the allegations and plans to pursue a civil suit against the board. Spielvogel asserts that she didn't conduct renovations or redecorating in the office and that she offered to pay for the ceremonial chain herself.

"She says that any expenditures she made were in accordance with the policy of the college and were below the threshold she needed for approval," said Raymond D. Cotton, vice president of Higher Education for ML Strategies and a partner in the Mintz Levin law firm. Cotton also specializes in presidential contracts and governance issues.

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