Vicky Smith will remain McHenry County College's president through 2015, thanks to a last-minute contract extension by outgoing board members.
Newly elected Trustee Molly Walsh, who was seated after the vote on Smith's contract last week, said she was disappointed the former board decided to act. The vote came amid community criticism and requests by Walsh and Chris Jenner, another new board member, to hold off. The vote was not contractually necessary until June.
Thomas Wilbeck was the third trustee seated last week after trustees Barbara Walters and Carol Larson lost their re-election bids. Trustee Dennis Adams did not run for another term.
Adams and Trustee Ron Parrish voted against the contract extension while Walters, Larson, Mary Miller, Linda Liddell and Cynthia Kisser voted for it.
Smith's supporters packed the board meeting to defend the quality of her work with a similar number of people speaking in opposition to the contract extension.
Walsh said the focus on Smith and her performance was unfortunate.
"That was not the issue," Walsh said. "The issue was the process. ... I wasn't challenging Dr. Smith's performance, I was challenging the whole idea of the retiring board making that kind of commitment for the new board."
A motion to postpone the vote by Parrish did not pass, ensuring new board members would not have a say.
Miller, who served as chairman of the board for the last meeting of her term Thursday, said the compensation portion of Smith's contract will be decided at a future meeting.
Smith first signed a three-year contract in 2010 with a starting salary of $195,000. Her current salary is $204,867, according to the college.
Miller said the new board will have the chance to decide on Smith's compensation in the context of the college's budget. But she said the decision about Smith's contract was one on which outgoing board members deserved a say.
"I think we were all pretty much in agreement that we had already done her evaluation and it was the duty of the current board to extend her contract, not the board that was going to be seated," Miller said.
While that view was contested, Walsh said there is no time to dwell on the issue because there is much else to be done.