“I’m pretty stunned,” emails WCC student Christina Fleming. “I truly was not expecting this … I am currently a humble student who is now moving into an important position of authority.”

“I was rather surprised myself,” says retired WCC faculty union president Ruth Hatcher.

Fleming and Hatcher, along with longtime political figure Dave DeVarti, won seats on WCC’s board of trustees in the November election. All three are perceived as sympathetic to the school’s faculty in its conflict with WCC president Rose Bellanca. All say resolving that tension will be their first priority when they join the seven-member board in January, and all are critical of the outgoing board’s vote to give Bellanca a modest raise and a one-year contract extension just before the election.

Hatcher says she has “a million questions for Rose,” but just one “directive. She needs to spend more time with the organized faculty, the union and the department heads. She has an obligation to work with them.”

In an email, Bellanca says she thinks communications are already improving, mentioning “several occasions” when she met informally “with faculty [and staff] over coffee.” Asked her thoughts on the election, she replies diplomatically, “I look forward to working together and hearing new ideas and perspectives as we collectively work to move the College forward.”

Hatcher, though, sees a bumpy road ahead: “The faculty is up for a new contract next year,” she warns, “and the negotiations could get very nasty.”