The statement “all government is local government” is especially true for the governing bodies of institutions of higher learning.
Riverside City College is no different.
Our administration is responsible for ensuring an environment where students can come and learn in an environment that allows them the best chance for them to succeed.
The administration can only be as strong as its weakest point, however, ours seems to be filled with many weak points, in the form of many positions being filled with interim administrators and in some cases, not being filled at all. Those that enter office do not have a long tenure, and projects started by one may be altered, stopped, or be left without leadership. In addition, the instructors and staff don’t have a good idea of just who they answer to. This kind of disarray in every level of the administration can have far reaching and serious effects on the students, even to the point of impeding their progress toward a degree.
Amid all the chaos and changes at RCC, we need a central point of strong leadership, stability and vision.
This series of recent issues can be traced back to former Chancellor Gregory Gray in 2013. After pursuing a job to lead schools in Connecticut, a large gap in the administration was left, causing ripple effects throughout the entire administration. Starting from the bottom, a steady shuffling occurred over time, as people came and went, positions opening up and subsequently being filled. Though this effort to achieve balance was successful in filling the highest position of chancellor, it has left a string of vacancies in every level of administrations. It has also left many filled with an interim position, including that of RCC’s president and one of the vice chancellor positions.
While those in these positions are doing their jobs, it is not a job that is set in stone for them. A superior could find a more permanent replacement and replace the person holding the interim position. This may cause someone holding a temporary position to absolve themselves of any long term investment in their department.faculty.
This shuffle may also lead to some loyalty issues among the administrative staff and the college instructors and other staff may lose faith in those governing them and make their own decisions about what is to take place in their departments. This could also cause tension within the administration itself, when conflicts of ideas and courses of action are compounded by the fact that they may lack information about a newly obtained office, or will either be moved to another position or removed altogether.
This fluidity in the administration is also not providing for vacancy positions that need to be filled. At this moment, we are missing a vice chancellor, a director of human resources, and a director of workforce development, among others.
This June, athletic director Derrick Johnson’s contract will not be renewed, a recommendation by the Board of Trustees, and there is no word as to who will take his place.
This administration is responsible for everything that goes on in the Riverside City College District. At RCC, these responsibilities range from managing the new construction projects, parking, campus safety, admissions, managing money, keeping the instructors supplied with the latest technology and more. When the leadership is unstable, it affects the student body directly.
One example of this is the greenhouse that was to be built on top of the Math and Science building. Since biology is a general education course for students, the greenhouse’s purpose is to enhance the understanding of the course material. The biology department has been left in the dark about current development of the greenhouse, and at this point, it seems the project is at a standstill. This, coupled with the concerns the other departments have about the capability of the Math and Science building to host such a construct, leaves the biology students without a greenhouse that is needed for them to conduct research in.
It is the law that set procedures for filling in the gaps has to be followed, and that a certain amount of time must pass before some positions are filled, so that those who are interested in filling the gap may do so. This is most highlighted by the current RCC president search, which has made some progress since its start. Everything involved with this search, from the advertising, to the interviewing, to the final assessments, is a very long process.
While there are some procedures that need to be followed, the lack of leadership is still a very pressing issue. Someone has to be recognized as a point of authority, and that point needs to take responsibility for this confusion until the process for stabilizing the administration is complete.