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Former PHCC provost makes 'inevitable' move

The beloved east campus official now heads the new adult education department.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Former Pasco-Hernando Community College east campus provost Michael Rom delivered his final lecture Tuesday night on a dimly lit sidewalk encircled by about 50 supporters, mostly students.

"The outcome was inevitable," Rom said. "I just want you all to know."

Rom's address outside the board of trustees meeting came just minutes after the board slapped its gavel, unanimously approving his transfer across the county to head the college's new adult education department. The action finalized the removal of the beloved administrator from Dade City, where students described him as the father of the 1,000-student campus.

Rom, 53, had served as the campus' provost for the past nine years.

His move, an apparent demotion, was announced by president Robert Judson last week, blindsiding the campus and drawing tears and protest from students. Rom assumed his new position in New Port Richey Monday. Judson said it was simply a personnel move. Rom heads the yet-to-be-formed adult education department that will launch GED classes next fall, Judson said.

"He's the best person to do the new job," Judson said.

Students came to Tuesday night's meeting hoping to sway the trustees to overturn Rom's assignment. They delivered more than 400 letters supporting their cause.

"You cannot abruptly take a child's parent away at a crucial growth period and expect them to accept a substitute," student Jacqueline Krista Cavolina-Macholeth said.

Rom, who said he is looking for other jobs where he will interact with students, will no longer be a member of the President's Cabinet or the five-person executive administration. His salary will remain the same "for the time being," Judson has said.

Former trustee Brant Blessing, an east Pasco resident, also addressed the board, which has no members from east Pasco.

"Dr. Rom is the institution on the east campus, and our loss is your gain," Blessing said.

Blessing and others expressed concern that the board, which opened the meeting by approving the motion without any discussion, was ignoring the east campus.

After the vote, students filed out of the meeting. Later, Judson and trustees spoke about several projects on the east campus, including the construction of a law enforcement training center and a proposed $6-million renovation.

Judson said Rom's reassignment did not need the trustees' approval, but he put it on the agenda so they could hear the students' opinions.

The trustees will write Rom a letter, as well as sending notes to each student who wrote them in support of Rom, Judson said.

Rom did not speak inside the meeting, and outside he said he spoke only to uplift his students' spirits.

"(The vote) does not mean that what you did was not important," Rom told crowd outside. "The significant thing we have done here is, faculty, staff, administrators and students are actively involved in what takes place on the east campus."

Rom joined the college as a part-time professor in 1972 and started full time six years later. He has been at the Dade City campus for 20 of the past 22 years.

Judson's evaluations of him are glowing. In June Rom received a rating between outstanding and excellent, the two highest ratings.

- Ryan Davis can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 3452, or at rdavis@sptimes.com.

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