Hermans resigns from Bay College board

ESCANABA — Following the recent departure of Stephen O’Driscoll, James Hermans has resigned from the Bay College Board of Trustees due to an incompatibility of office issue. The college announced Hermans’ resignation in a press release Friday.

“It’s with deep regret that I’m leaving Bay College — I liked it very much,” Hermans said. At the time of his resignation, Hermans was the board’s chair.

In November, the board received a legal opinion from the Michigan Attorney General’s office stating that, under Michigan’s Incompatible Public Offices Act, individuals cannot serve on boards for colleges and K-12 school districts at the same time. This opinion affected O’Driscoll, who is the president of the Gladstone Area Schools Board of Education, and Hermans, who is the vice president of the Escanaba Area Public School District Board of Education.

As a result of this opinion, O’Driscoll and Hermans were required to resign from either the Bay College Board of Trustees or their respective K-12 boards. O’Driscoll officially chose to leave the Bay College Board of Trustees during a special meeting earlier this month.

Hermans said his decision to leave Bay’s board was influenced by the fact that he had been re-elected to the Escanaba Area Public School District Board of Education in 2016.

“I have another four years there,” he said. His term on the Bay College Board of Trustees was set to end in 2018.

Hermans also noted that he is concerned by the potential impact of this legal opinion.

“This is (going to) affect a lot of people across the state,” he said.

Bay College President Laura Coleman said that Hermans has been a member of the college’s board for over a decade.

“Jim Hermans has been a valued board member for 11 years,” she said. “He has always focused on student success, and was instrumental in establishing a board committee titled ‘Student Success and Completion.'”

She also noted that Hermans had been involved with a wide variety of improvements to the college.

“He … supported bringing athletics to Bay College and has been a part of multiple renovations across the campus, including the Besse Center, the Hub, Nursing Simulation, (and) Welding,” Coleman said.

As with the vacancy left by O’Driscoll’s resignation, Hermans’ seat on the board will be filled by appointment in keeping with state law. An appointment to fill O’Driscoll’s seat will be made by January 11, and an appointment to fill Hermans’ seat will be made by January 21. The replacements for both former board members will have to run for re-election in November 2018. The person elected to fill Hermans’ former position will receive a six-year term on the board, and the person elected to fill O’Driscoll’s former position will receive a four-year term.

The college appreciates Hermans’ service on the board, Coleman said.

“He will be missed,” she said.