JACKSONVILLE — All but a core minimum group of Lon Morris employees received furlough notices Wednesday morning, and college President Miles McCall handed in his letter of resignation Tuesday, officials said Wednesday.
While the furlough notice said the employees were "terminated," it was unclear whether they were formally discharged or furloughed.
“Furlough and terminated are two different things,” board member Tim McRae said. “Although I have not received the letter, I'm pretty sure it is furlough.”
The decision was made by Bridge Point Consulting Company, an advising firm brought in on May 5 by the board of trustees to help restructure the school's finances, with intentions of reopening in the fall.
“We are assuming there will indeed be a fall semester which we will gear up for once the 30-day assessment has been completed and alternatives have been analyzed,” the letter stated.
Dawn Ragan, the chief restructuring officer, sent an email on behalf of the college stating the last three payrolls have been missed and the school was unable to continue the employment of personnel.
“Your loyalty to the college, and especially to the mission, is very much appreciated, but unfortunately due to the current circumstance, all employment by the college is hereby terminated,” the notice stated.
Dr. Jack Nelson, board vice president, said the decision was not made by the board, but by the consulting group.
Multiple phone calls and messages were left for Ragan, but none were returned by press time.
Also stated in the notice, campus housing or room and board benefits have also been terminated. The employees and tenants have been given 10 days to vacate.
Employees have been asked to return all college property including laptops, keys, credit cars and vehicles by the end of the week.
McRae said McCall's resignation goes into effect today. McCall served as president for the past seven years.
McCall made a decision to resign after a meeting with Ragan, McRae said.
“Miles McCall wanted to fit into the reorganization effort but he knew a lot of the discussions and decisions were made outside of him and he was not involved,” McRae said. “He asked (Ragan) if he had a part in this and where does he play. (Ragan) asked (him), 'Do you want me to be blunt? You express that your main concern of the college is the reorganization effort, I think it is in the best interest of the college if you step down to help progress the reorganization effort.”
McRae said McCall was told, “the sooner you resign the better.”
“His concern the whole time was with the college,” McRae said. “He wanted to do whatever it took to keep the college viable. He doesn't necessarily agree with the reorganization process but he respects it.”
McCall's phone number was not listed and he could not be reached for comment.
McRae said what happens next with the college is up to the reorganization firm.
“The firm is going to do what's best,” he said, “They will work with banks and creditors, with all means, to raise some funds and that will be funds to underwrite their restructuring efforts. They need some time to put a business plan together to keep moving forward. Once that's in place and they begin implementing that plan, hopefully we'll open in the fall.”
McRae said as of right now, there will be no summer classroom instruction courses, but online courses are a possibility.
Multiple phone calls were made to Martha Squibb, board president, on Wednesday, but none were returned by press time.
Lon Morris College had been experiencing ongoing cash flow problems after the school increased its enrollment to an all-time high of 1,080 after bringing in new academic programs such as hospitality, management and agriculture science.
In 2010, LMC added football its list of sports offered and at its peak, there were 180 men in the program.
Reports of delayed payrolls begin in April 2011.