OíMore Board announces Hilliardís retirement, names interim president
By Pam Horne, Managing Editor
The Board of Trustees of O’More College of Design announced today the retirement of Dr. Mark Hilliard effective immediately.
As President of O’More, Hilliard has led the small private college for the past 14 years, but earlier this summer an official no-confidence statement by the majority of his faculty and staff caused internal turmoil that spilled over into the public view.
Most recently, allegations of professional misconduct related to members of the student body and financial irresponsibility spurred the 22-member board to go into special executive session more than once within the past two weeks.
The allegations have been out of character for this institution, which is a member in good standing of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
O’More has 200 students currently enrolled from throughout the United States.
Students and parents have voiced concerns to the administration during the past two weeks following news reports that revealed serious internal conflicts existed at the 43-year-old interior design school.
The Board has appointed one of its own members as interim president, according to a prepared statement released this afternoon by the College.
Rebecca Stillwell, a former managing director for Morgan Stanley, has been selected to temporarily take the helm amid Hilliard’s abrupt retirement.
“Our commitment always has been to operate the College with integrity and to provide our students with an excellent academic education,” said Board Chairman Scott Williams in a written statement.
A presidential search committee has also been established, which will include O’More board members involved in higher education, a faculty representative and the president of the O’More Student Government Association.
“Today’s action underscores our dedication to our students and faculty and ensures that O’More College will continue to operate in a manner consistent with our founding core values – community, stewardship, academic excellence, innovation and diversity. We are pleased with this resolution and remain committed to providing a distinctive education in a student-centered environment.”
Shari Fox, Vice-President of Academic Affairs, has been critical of Hilliard’s leadership, noting her dissatisfaction as the first signature on the no-confidence letter sent to the Board of Trustees in June.
This evening she said the matter had been more than challenging to the entire school, but she was optimistic.
“I appreciate the Board’s swift action,” Fox said . “We are ready to get back to work and get back to our business of teaching design. We look forward to better days ahead this week, this semester, this year and for years to come.”
When asked about her reaction to the appointment of Stillwell, Fox commented:
“I think she’s an excellent choice. I admire her. She’s a smart and intelligent woman. I look forward to working with her.”
Posted on: 8/26/2013