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Hudson Valley Community College president is fired by Board of Trustees amid harassment claim

Hudson Valley Community College President Dr. Roger Ramsammy
Hudson Valley Community College
Dr. Roger Ramsammy

The president of Hudson Valley Community College in Troy has been removed following an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint against him.

The college’s Board of Trustees voted to terminate its contract with Roger Ramsammy Tuesday night. He was placed on leave May 15th following a Human Resources complaint filed against him. Ramsammy, a native of Trinidad, had led HVCC since July 2018. Board Chair Neil Kelleher says the college cannot share specific details of the complaint due to ongoing personnel and legal matters, but "the Board wishes to send a strong message that Hudson Valley does not tolerate inappropriate behavior by any or toward any member of the college community."

HVCC Faculty Association President Robert Whitaker says the board made the right decision.

"Firing the president was really the right move for everyone on our campus. And you know, we, we commend the board in taking that action. And you know, through termination of President Ramsammy and his removal from the campus, I think now the college is in a position to begin the process of healing and closing the book on this, you know, sad chapter in our history and beginning the process of healing and moving forward," Whitaker said. 

Ramsammy’s personal attorney called the misconduct claim baseless when it surfaced. Kevin Luibrand did not return a call for comment after the firing.

Whitaker says the news shook the campus to its core.

"The news was very disturbing to everyone on the campus. You know, this is, this is an institution that we know and love, and you know we care about deeply," said Whitaker. "Many of us have chosen to build our careers here, and we really care about the work that we do and supporting our students. And, you know, to hear about this was really disturbing and it just, I think in a way, it hurt everyone. It just had, it really took a toll, I think, on everyone on the campus, in the campus community. And I think, you know, at this point, we're glad that there's some resolution that we can begin to move forward."

Whitaker says policies and procedures that govern such situations are now under the microscope.

"In our view, the president should have been placed on leave immediately after the college received the complaint, and the decision to permit the president to remain on campus for weeks after the complaint had been received, that was just wrong. And if we have a policy that allows for that to happen, then, frankly, the policy really needs to be really needs to be changed. I think also, you know, in the future, the college could do a much better job of communicating to the campus community, updates on the status of an event. Investigation, the proposed timeline, there was a real lack of communication. Many people on campus really felt left in the dark. And I think that that just kind of added to, you know, uncertainty and anxiety around this situation and just tension, and I think that that could have been avoided with better communication," said Whitaker. 

Louis Coplin, the recently retired president for student affairs at HVCC, was appointed officer in charge when Ramsammy was put on leave and will continue in that role. Coplin replied to a request for comment with a written statement that says in part "We are committed to moving forward collaboratively, with a clear vision and shared purpose. We will immediately begin a search for a college president which will involve a partnership among all of our stakeholders and shared governance leaders, ensuring transparency and collaborative action."

SUNY Central declined to comment, deferring to HVCC.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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