CCRI Faculty Union Head Raises Nepotism Concerns

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


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The head of the CCRI faculty union is raising nepotism concerns with the administration.

The head of the Community College of Rhode Island Faculty Association (CCRIFA) is questioning the college hiring the sister of a CCRI Dean -- and raising the speculation of nepotism.

Steve Murray with the CCRIFA recently inquired with the administration about the hiring of Joyce Sabbagh Perry to the faculty of the Administrative Office of Technology, which is headed by her brother, Dean Thomas Sabbagh.

According to CCRI, the college hired Sabbagh as Dean in June 2017, after he served in the role on an interim basis since January 1

"I'll be writing to [Vice President Rosemary] Costigan as to specifics of the purported arrangement she has and why she never sought an ethics advisory opinion," said Murray, of the response he received. 

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The battle marks the latest for CCRI faculty association and the college.  

As GoLocal was first to report in October, CCRIFA took issue with the recently proposed January term, which CCRI backed off from but not without controversy. 

"The Community College of Rhode Island announced that in 2018, it is instituting a "January Session" as an interim academic period -- which the CCRI Faculty Association (CCRIFA) has blasted, claiming that faculty were not included in the decision process," GoLocal reported on October 16.

CCRI recently reversed its decision to hold the term. 

On October 31, Murray wrote the following to CCRI President Meghan Hughes. 

President Hughes,

It has come to my attention that Dean Sabbagh’s sister, Joyce Perry, is employed this semester at the College as a full-time temporary faculty member (eligible for benefits) in the department of Administrative Office Technology. As you know, Dean Sabbagh is the dean that supervises that department. Please explain this situation to us.

On November 10, Murray followed up with the following:

President Hughes,

It has been ten days since I raised this issue with you and you have offered no explanation or response. Both the Board of Education and the State of Rhode Island have ethics rules that prohibit “nepotism.” 

Costigan responded to Murray with the following. 

"I am writing in response to your email to the President regarding Dean [sic] Sabaugh and his sister. Tom and I have a protocol in place that provides an alternate chain of command regarding any personnel action involving his sister, which provides that any such action that would normally be taken by her Dean is taken and determined by me. We believe that this addresses the issue that you have raised," wrote Costigan. 

CCRI and Costigan did not respond to request for comment on Monday. 


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