Anthony Hennen writes for the Martin Center about a community college controversy in southeastern North Carolina.

Something is rotten in the County of New Hanover.

Cape Fear Community College, the fifth-largest in the state, is experiencing very public governance issues. Faculty and staff have accused CFCC president Jim Morton of creating a hostile work environment built on favoritism and bullying. The “toxic culture,” as multiple sources put it, has made employees afraid to criticize leadership for fear of retaliation.

College leaders have framed the accusations as exaggerated media reports of a few disgruntled ex-employees. And the Board of Trustees, which appointed president Morton, stands behind him.

The problems, however, cannot be so easily dismissed. In reporting this story, the sources that the Martin Center spoke with (current and former faculty and staff) asked to stay anonymous for fear of hurting their job prospects or getting friends at Cape Fear fired. They described a discontented faculty and staff, a board set in its ways that is unwilling to admit past mistakes, and incompetence in running a large community college.

Those problems raise questions about how involved the state board should be in local community college issues, and what change might look like.

“I do not have faith in any of the current administration,” a current faculty member said. ”I worked for another community out of state and none of this went on there.”

Former and current faculty and staff are frustrated. Senior leadership and the board of trustees dismiss complaints—anonymous or not—as unfounded, leaving employees with nowhere to turn.

So it’s no surprise that some have turned to the media.