The Rotella era at RCC comes to an end

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By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

Salvatore Rotella was inaugurated as the seventh president of Riverside Community College on Sept. 23, 1992. Almost 15 years later he is set to retire in August.

Many people say that his time here was a successful period in the history of the college. We think that is true.

Why? Because a true leader is only as good as the team is. The team at RCC, composed of faculty, staff and students, have proven time and time again that RCC is the best. Sure there are always going to be some bad apples, but we are talking about the good, hard-working people at RCC.

Arguably there have been ups and downs, but as president of a college and later chancellor, you are always in the spotlight and things can’t always be perfect. Sure, he can be abrasive some times, but it’s not like the chancellor job is a walk in the park.

The sudden departure of Riverside City College President Daniel Castro implicated some sort of conflict, especially with the Press- Enterprise reporting there was an agreement that Castro and Rotella could not disparage each other in regards to Castro’s departure.

Rotella denied any conflicts with former President Castro, but it was evident that there was a conflict. Former Board of Trustees member Grace Slocum was quoted in the Feb. 12 issue of Viewpoints as saying “He (Castro) was not allowed to do his job. The thing with the kind of change Castro was proposing is that it always makes people angry.”

RCC getting $350 million through Measure C in 2004 was a giant accomplishment for the college. Rotella, as leader, got a lot of the credit. But, it was a community wide effort. Viewpoints covered the Measure C campaign headquarters for the March 11, 2004 issue and found many people from the college working overtime to help get the measure passed. The one person who got the most people to say yes to voting for the measure over the phone was a student, Lupita Torres.

There was a plan in place for the last Board of Trustees meeting to rename the Digital Library in honor of Rotella, but Viewpoints pointed out to Jim Parsons, associate vice chancellor of Public Affairs, that Board Policy 7070 states that one year must pass after retirement or death before a building can be renamed after someone. The plan is now set to propose renaming the Digital Library in 2008.

After all, the Digital Library was Rotella’s home away from home using the previously planned fourth floor archive center as his office and furnishing it with approximately $18,000 in furniture, including a nice plasma television. It has been said by Rotella and Library Dean Cecilia Wong that the furniture will be staying in the building. After doing a story on this in 2003, the Viewpoints editorial asked the question “Couldn’t this money have gone for something more important?” Here we are 4 years later asking the same question.

No matter what our feelings are toward Rotella and his leaving, we will give credit where credit is due. From Viewpoints students’ personal experiences with Rotella over the years, whenever a reporter contacted him for comment about a story, he would always call the students back. Sure, a lot of times there were “no comments” or even a few curse words, but it does show something to personally get back with students.

Once he even called a Viewpoints reporter back while dealing with pneumonia. Most times it’s tough to get the average person to return phone calls as it is, let alone getting a phone call from someone who is ill. That is a great example for all to think about doing in the future (hint, hint).

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