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NCCC president retires under fire

Photo from the NCCC website.

Hours before the Niagara County Community College was slated to fire him, college president James Klyczek notified the college board he was retiring, effective immediately. The board of trustees appointed Academic Affairs Vice President Luba Chliwniak as officer-in-charge for up to 90 days.

The college president has been under fire for a while, especially because of allegations of bid rigging in construction contracts for the Culinary Institute complex in Niagara Falls that are being probed by a federal grand jury, after emails surfaced.  

However, what ultimately cost Klyczek his job was a recording obtained by WKBW-TV regarding a woman who had reported being sexually assaulted on the campus. Someone taped Klyczek making a series of disparaging attacks on the woman in a meeting with administrators.

On Wednesday he quit before being fired, according to College Trustees Chairman Vincent Ginestre, who read a statement to reporters.
"That board had scheduled a special meeting for 5:30 pm. today to vote on removing Dr. Klyczek from his position. But the retirement was submitted before the meeting was held," Ginestre said. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond
NCCC Board of Trustees in special meeting Wednesday evening.

"Although he finalized his retirement just hours before the vote, the board wants to clearly state that Dr. Klyczek's reported words and actions have been inappropriate, insensitive and inconsistent with the values of our college."

Ginestre refused to take questions after the meeting.

"When we have students saying that they will rethink coming here, absolutely I think it's very detrimental to the institution and that's not what we are about," said College Faculty Senate President Lori Townsend.

"We're about making sure the students feel safe and that we can provide them with a quality education."

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond
Luba Chliwniak, NCCC's Vice President for Academic Affairs, will run the college as it searches for a new President.

With his well-timed retirement announcement, Klyczek will retain a pension based on his $201,000 salary.

"No, I don't think it's really fair, but it is what it is," Townsend said.

Klyczek was the longest-serving President of NCCC, having been appointed in 2002. He first joined NCCC in 2001 as Executive Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.

Prior to NCCC he served in numerous teaching and administrative positions at D’Youville College and the University of Buffalo. He has also taught for the University of Pittsburgh and University of Maryland, European Division, Germany.

WBFO News received a statement from SUNY regarding the remarks Klyczek made in response to the campus sexual assault:

"SUNY strongly supports the intention of the Niagara County Community College Board of Trustees to take action this evening. The University categorically rejects the reported statements attributed to Dr. Klyczek about victims and survivors of crime and violence. The reported statements were inappropriate, unfair to the victims, and do not represent the values of The State University of New York. SUNY will be conducting a review of the facts of this case to determine if there were violations of law or policy."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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