Written by John Face
City Watch NEWS
January 21, 2022
One thing has become painfully obvious to those in the college and Albion communities the last few months is that the Albion College Board of Trustees (BOT) has no real interest in making community relations a priority. When hundreds of staff, students and residents begged the BOT for change of the administration they had put in place, the BOT turned away and appeared to hold up a collective middle finger to these people and say, “we don’t care what you think”.
Leadership the Way it Was
“I miss Mauri”, If this writer had a nickel for every time I heard this. Mauri Ditzler was President of Albion College up until he retired in early 2020. Ditzler worked hard on building relationships in Albion. The City of Albion named the street that runs through the main campus after him, Ditzler Way. If you need to know anything about him and his work at the college and in Albion that alone should tell you where he stood in the community.
Ditzler built bridges between the college and city. He didn’t get everything right while he was here, his biggest supporters will tell you that, but he still worked hard to make the college and city a better place. He worked to increase overall student enrollment, which he did, and he worked very hard to diversify Albion Colleges overwhelmingly white student population.
A New Presidency
The BOT told everyone they were looking for someone dynamic for the new President. Mathew Johnson came into town like a whirlwind. Even though according to sources on the national search committee that they had concerns because of issues he had at his last employer, one of which it appeared he was demoted from a high-profile job at Brown.
At the start of Johnsons’ tenure this writer talked to many of the staff and heard good things. Many said his ideas were great, but after months nothing really was changing. Johnson had a history of being vindictive, mean, demeaning and people started to jump ship and take new positions outside the college if they weren’t fired. Johnson brought in his “cabinet” who would be his “headhunters” said one staffer, no one was safe, and everyone walked around on pins and needles trying not to get fired or have their job eliminated.
Word started coming out of the campus “that there are serious problems with the new President” said a staffer after just a few months in. Staff telling me they were talking to members of the BOT trying to get them to understand what was happening with little action. One BOT observer said that “the BOT is controlled by a very small group that the rest will do whatever they say”.
With that knowledge it makes sense little was done about Johnson even after students and staff started becoming public and vocal.