Report guides, challenges RCC

An independent audit of the Riverside Community College district was conducted by the former president of The Press-Enterprise, Marcia McQuern. The report she submitted to the Board of Trustees provides a guideline for the districts plan to segregate the RCC campuses into three separate colleges.

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By Anthony Guillen & Michael Fortier

By Anthony Guillen & Michael Fortier

An independent audit of the Riverside Community College district was conducted by the former president of The Press-Enterprise, Marcia McQuern. The report she submitted to the Board of Trustees provides a guideline for the districts plan to segregate the RCC campuses into three separate colleges.In the report that was released in June 2004 McQuern states, “No top executive now is focused solely on the Riverside Campus and it shows on issues ranging from maintaining campus facilities to building a sense of pride in that campus.”In addition, McQuern emphasizes that “While current trustees have been generous in their support for the newer campuses, it will be increasingly difficult for citizens outside the Riverside area to believe their colleges are well served if they only see one person from their communities on the Board.”The report presented a set of recommendations that includes hiring a new president for the Riverside Campus, making the current president (Salvatore Rotella) a district chancellor and restructuring the functions of the administration and Board of Trustees to accommodate the division of the colleges.McQuern’s report also stated that the Moreno Valley and Norco campuses should have guaranteed representation on the Board of Trustees.During a telephone interview, Rotella was asked to voice his opinions on McQuern’s recommendation. In response he said, “Certain people moving into certain positions isn’t important. The discussion should be the reorganization of departments. We have started that process.””I am delighted with this study. I think it could become a guideline for the future; there are a lot of sensible ideas here,” Rotella said. “I’m not necessarily supporting. It’s a point that we will have to determine the importance of.”However, the Board of Trustees has begun making recommendations for a search firm to hire a president for the Riverside Campus, as the report suggests.Jim Parsons, RCC director of Marketing, said that no one from outside Riverside has ever been elected to the college’s Board of Trustees.”It’s a realization that the communities are playing a larger role,” Parsons said. “It’s a good thing for those communities to have representation as the campuses continue to grow.””She was at the helm of The Press-Enterprise as it went through a transition,” Parsons said. “She has knowledge of the community and the college with living in the area, working with The Press-Enterprise and being president of the RCC foundation.”President of the faculty union and instructor at the Norco Campus, Karin Skiba supports the representation that the newer campuses are receiving on the college’s Board.”We want people to run and represent their communities,” Skiba said. “It’s difficult to find people to run for the Board of Trustees.”McQuern was paid $58,000 for the report and conducted her study during the last academic year. At the time RCC was cutting classes and increasing the enrollment fee because of the state’s budget crisis.”I don’t know where the money came from,” Skiba said of McQuern’s payment for her study. “It sounds pretty expensive, but it’s interesting to have an outsiders view.”Trustee Mary Figueroa said hiring McQuern was necessary.”There is always concern over the amount of consultants we have used. With the college’s growth and added responsibilities to the administration, we can’t do a report like this,” she said. “It was worth the time and money.”Another member of the Board of Trustees, Grace Slocum, said that the report “gives us a good starting point.”The study was based on interviews from 91 people which included administrators, faculty, students and members of the Board of Trustees.”It’s a point of departure for a discussion to move into a reorganization process,” Rotella said in response to what purpose the report serves. At the Sept. 15 Board of Trustees meeting Rotella called the report “an agenda for the next few years.”McQuern was the first choice RCC had for the study, according to Parsons.Figueroa said, “It was useful to have someone who wasn’t internal, but had knowledge of the district.” On Sept. 15 the Board of Trustees approved McQuern’s proposal as the guideline for the process of dividing the campuses, by a vote of four to one.”This is an opportunity to bring it all into the accreditation stand,” Slocum said, having being the only one to vote against the proposal. “I don’t see why we can’t wait a month.”The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is scheduled to review the recommendations in January to determine how this change can be implemented.At the Sept. 15 meeting Rotella stressed that “not everything has to be done tomorrow,” with implementing McQuern’s recommendations.”We have a lot of work to do and it has to be done over time,” Rotella said.

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