Big bones for top dogs

Butte College president’s retirement package is the full-meal deal

The author is a frequent contributor to the CN&R and other publications, as well as an adjunct English instructor at Butte Community College.

I never met Diana Van Der Ploeg, the retiring Butte College top dog. Though she was president during the three years before I retired from full-time teaching, I never saw her face, partly because I made a personal pledge to boycott meetings in which administrators assembled the faculty to a) tell us how excited they were about the great things they were doing and b) admonish us not to ask for anything.

Forgive my snarky tone, but I spent a lifetime attending mandatory administrative dog-and-pony shows, and the only thing I ever took away from them was reduced enthusiasm.

The other reason I never met Dr. Van Der Ploeg was because, except for those twice-yearly gatherings, administrators mostly don’t turn up where faculty people are going about their business.

But it seems she did a good job during her stewardship, most notably in her efforts to make Butte greener.

Her reward for services is a sweet retirement package, with full medical benefits for life and a handsome monthly pension. Dr. Van Der Ploeg, like the two women who preceded her in the president’s office, served a short tenure before claiming her retirement prize. Each of her predecessors served five years before bailing out, which was, not so coincidentally, just long enough to receive the full-meal deal when it came to post-retirement goodies.

Meanwhile, some faculty members who served under them, people who had many more years of service, were put out to pasture with far inferior medical benefits and huge pension disparities.

Managerial types are good at figuring angles and feathering nests. Much of their time is spent schmoozing with people who serve on their boards of trustees, a breed of people who seem easily swayed by the notion that management always deserves more because, hell, if they don’t get it, we can’t get the best.

The public is fed up with public servants sucking up tax money while working stiffs are getting stiffed. But, when you look at where lots of tax money is going, you see that those at the top are doing very well indeed, while those who ain’t at the top are treading water. Try coming into a job and working five or eight years, then retiring with full benefits. Unless you’re the top dog, when Mother Hubbard goes to that cupboard, it’s bound to be bare.