Chancellor search continues

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By Matthew Engleman

Photo Illustration By (Photo Illustration by Justin Henderson)

By Matthew Engleman

n an office with a panoramic vista of downtown Riverside is a plush chair with no one in it. No one permanent, that is. The office is on the top floor of the digital library on the Riverside campus, and the chair is designated for the chancellor of the Riverside Community College District.

Today, Jim Buysse is the man sitting in the chair as the interim chancellor, but that may soon change. The Board of Trustees has announced that two candidates are being considered for the position.

The announcement came in a March 19 e-mail from Board President Mary Figueroa to RCCD administrators. In the e-mail, Figueroa stated that RCCD, “following its closed session meeting on Tuesday, March 18, 2008, by a unanimous vote, has authorized ACCT to extend an invitation to two finalists in the Chancellor search, to participate in the open community and campus forums.” The ACCT is the Association of Community College Trustees, a non-profit organization that has been hired by the Board to search for candidates for the chancellor position.

If a candidate is selected, the Board of Trustees will have finished a search that began shortly after the resignation of Salvatore Rotella and the rejection of several candidates.

After a lengthy search and selection process during the spring of last year, the students and faculty of the RCCD expected the Board to report that it had found a replacement. But on March 20, 2007, the Board of Trustees announced to a crowded room that no decision had been made.

Not everyone has been happy with the search conducted by the Association. In the fall of 2007 Fabian Biancardi, a Moreno Valley Campus instructor, along with 12 other colleagues, drafted and signed a letter addressed to the Board with complaints regarding the chancellor search.

Chief among the concerns was the amount of time that it was taking to find suitable candidates. The faculty stressed the amount of money that was being spent on the search and concluded that the district is “not getting what it is paying for.”

Time was an issue because a State accrediting team was due to arrive before the beginning of the year, and the Moreno Valley faculty members felt that not having a chancellor was a major handicap.

On Nov. 28, 2007, Association representatives Narcisa Polonia and Serafin Zasueta held open forums at all campuses in an attempt to learn what the community expects of the future chancellor. The reason for the forums, according to Polonia, was “strengthening governance.”

Recently another open forum was held at the Marriott in downtown Riverside on March 15. Candidates were interviewed by Board members. Three days later the e-mail was sent out by Figueroa announcing the Board’s decision.

When asked about the names of the candidates selected and the dates that the public forums will be held, the Board is “waiting to hear from (the) search firm confirming the two finalists giving us permission to announce who they are and when we can arrange forums,” said Janet Green, member of the Board of Trustees, in an e-mail.

Association representative Narcisa Polonia was unable to comment because of scheduling difficulties and Serafin Zasueta declined to comment.

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