- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Montgomery College Board of Trustees has removed Brian K. Johnson from his position as president and placed him on paid administrative leave.

Trustees in a closed-door meeting Thursday night voted against renewing the embattled college president’s contract.

“This is the first time that I know of that we have had to make such a difficult decision, which is unfortunate,” said Michael C. Lin, chairman of the board. “Hopefully, everything is behind us now.”

The change came after charges that Mr. Johnson excessively spent college funds, ignored meetings with key politicians, including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and was frequently absent from the office during work hours.

Mr. Johnson, whose contract with the college ends in June 2010, was also reportedly the subject of an arrest warrant in Arizona’s Maricopa County on charges he owed $12,000 in child support.

College officials appointed Hercules Pinkney as interim president. Mr. Pinkney, who came out of retirement to assume the role, made it very clear to the college that he will not be serving on a long-term basis, Mr. Lin added.

“Once the college is stabilized, perhaps six months from now, we’ll start a national search for the next president,” Mr. Lin said. “Obviously, we’ll do that as thoroughly as possible.”

The board issued a statement Thursday after the meeting explaining their reasons for the decision.

“We arrived at these decisions after much discussion and deliberation,” Mr. Lin said. “We take our responsibility of oversight of the college seriously and feel this action is in the best interest of the Montgomery College community.”

Calls to Mr. Johnson’s personal cell phone were not immediately returned Friday.

Mr. Johnson, who previously served as vice president of student and community services at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., began working at Montgomery College in February 2007.

The school has campuses in Rockville, Germantown and Takoma Park/Silver Spring and is Maryland’s largest community college. According to his contract with the school, Mr. Johnson was hired at a salary of $220,000 annually.

Mr. Lin declined to speculate on whether university officials would move to dismiss Mr. Johnson instead of continuing to pay him until his contract expires.

Mr. Pinkney retired from his position as provost and vice president of the Germantown campus in June after 13 years with the college. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Claflin College and a master’s degree in education from South Carolina State College, both in Orangeburg, S.C.

Mr. Pinkney has a doctorate of education in educational administration from Virginia Tech. He was named 2003 Educator of the Year by the African-American Chamber of Commerce.