Linfield University board chair steps down after continuing scrutiny

By Meerah Powell (OPB)
Sept. 15, 2021 4:38 p.m.

David Baca, and other Linfield leaders, had come under scrutiny for mishandling complaints of sexual harassment

A student walks out of the Riley Center on the campus of Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Budget cuts and declining enrollment have forced tough decisions about the future of small, private colleges like Linfield.

A student walks out of the Riley Center on the campus of Linfield University in McMinnville, Ore., Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The small private university has weathered controversy recently, with the high-profile departure of a faculty member who drew attention to accusations of sexual harassment by school leaders.

Bradley W. Parks / OPB

Linfield University announced Tuesday that the chair of its Board of Trustees, David Baca, has stepped down from the leadership post after four years, including a tumultuous last several months at the private college in McMinnville. Baca has been on the board for13 years.


“Dave decided it was in Linfield’s best interest that he step down and allow new leaders to come to the forefront,” Linfield spokesperson Scott Nelson said in a statement.

Although he is stepping down as chair, Baca will still serve on the board.

Baca came under scrutiny most recently earlier this year when former faculty member Daniel Pollack-Pelzner brought to light allegations of harassment and anti-Semitism among Linfield leadership.

Multiple organizations, including the Oregon Board of Rabbis, called for both Baca and university president Miles Davis to resign.


Last year, Linfield’s faculty assembly voted it had no confidence in Baca, specifically in his ability to handle sexual harassment reporting, according to reporting from Linfield’s student newspaper — The Linfield Review.

That was related to complaints of misconduct about former board member David Jubb, who was indicted last year on multiple counts of sexual abuse — some of those counts relating to a female Linfield student who filed a federal lawsuit in 2019 against Jubb.

Earlier this year, Linfield’s College of Arts and Sciences held a similar vote — signifying no confidence and calling for the resignation of both Baca and Davis.

The board’s vice-chair, Kerry Carmody, will become interim chair on Oct. 1.

Linfield President Davis said in a statement that Carmody has “the experience and enthusiasm to lead Linfield through this period of transformation and growth.”

He continued: “He will bring fresh ideas and perspectives and shares our commitment to re-envisioning learning, challenging students to explore greater possibilities and building a welcoming and supportive community.”

Carmody has been on the board since 2008.

“I am honored to serve this great institution as Interim Chair. It is exciting to be part of Linfield during this time of evolution and progress, and I look forward to working with faculty, staff, administration and the Linfield community as we design and begin our new strategic planning process,” Carmody said in a statement. “As Linfield adapts to meet the needs of a new generation of students and the demands of a quickly evolving world of higher education, the Board also has to adapt and change. That is our challenge and our charge.”