Thursday, December 31, 2009
1982: The district hires Larry Stevens and learns to regret it
This story centers on Larry P. Stevens, that other awful Chancellor, and his stormy three-year tenure. The faculty's struggle to send Stevens packing reached its conclusion six months before I was hired at IVC, and so I came to this saga with no understanding but with a vague sense that Chancellor troubles are nothing new to the district.
What follows is based entirely on abstracts of old LA Times articles. (That’s right; I’m too cheap to pay for the articles themselves. There's like twenty of 'em.) Hence, the following account is full of gaps, some minor, some major. I'm hoping that some of them can be filled by readers. The most notable gap? Just what did Chancellor Stevens say at that assembly in November of 1982 that got people so riled?
Please note: the dates in parentheses are dates of source Times articles (i.e., abstracts).
Larry Stevens was hired as Chancellor of the Saddleback Community College District (SCCD) in September of 1982.
Stevens had been “president of Tacoma Community College in Washington before coming to Saddleback. In the late 1970s and early '80s, he was the target of faculty criticism—and a vote of no confidence—at that college” (2/19/85).
One report indicated that the “friction” between Stevens and SCCCD faculty “first surfaced in November, 1982…, when he addressed a faculty assembly…” (2/19/85).
(Gosh. Just what did he say?)
Evidently, Stevens “probed” issues in ways that were objectionable to some. E.g., he sought “more expansion land for fast-growing Saddleback College” (7/16/85).
By 1983, the faculty union, led by Sharon MacMillan, charged that Stevens “’hired cronies,’ wasted money on administrative frills and was dictatorial” (11/4/85).
To complicate matters, starting in July of 1983, faculty were working without a contract (2/19/85).
During this period, the board of trustees comprised Eugene McKnight, William Watts, Robert Price, and Robert Moore. (Don’t know who the other three were.)
At the March 1984 board meeting, faculty of the district “called for the board of trustees to fire Chancellor Larry P. Stevens.” In a press conference held just before the meeting, faculty union president MacMillan reported that Stevens had suffered an overwhelming vote of no confidence (90%) (3/27/84).
The board refused to comply with faculty wishes. In response, faculty eventually “sought to recall three trustees who consistently supported [Stevens]” (11/4/85). Watts, Price, and Moore were targeted.
The recall effort was announced in early May of 1984 (5/4/84).
Soon thereafter, Stevens “rebuked” the union for pursuing a recall of board members (5/8/84).
In October, “Four Saddleback Community College District Trustees not named as recall targets … condemned the recall threat and supported their three targeted colleagues” (10/28/84).
Union leaders denied that difficult contract negotiations were the reason for the recalls. The recalls concerned Stevens, not salaries (11/3/84).
The faculty contract was settled in February of ’85.
“Despite the overwhelming approval of the [contract] agreement, [Robert Kopfstein] said the union will continue to seek the recall of three college district trustees” (2/26/85).
“Effort to Recall Trustees Fails for Lack of Signatures” (5/30/85).
(On July 1, 1985, Saddleback College “North Campus” became the autonomous “Irvine Valley College,” Saddleback's sister college.)
“South County Veteran Saddleback Trustee to Step Down” (7/16/85).
Trustee McKnight was not running for reelection, and so the faculty union sought to fill his seat (in the Nov. ‘85 special election) with someone more to their liking (11/1/85).
“Mike Eggers, an aide to Rep. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad), [was] among four candidates for [Eugene McKnight]'s seat. Eggers … clashed with the teachers' union and accused it of being behind a mailer … that accused him of unethical behavior and links to an alleged ‘racketeer.’ Eggers said the accusations were ‘lies’” (11/4/85).
In the end, though the 1985 recall effort failed (too few signatures), the union’s goals for the November ('85) election were successful. Watts and Price were gone. (Moore was not up for reelection.) McKnight was replaced with a union-friendly trustee (who?). Both Iris Swanson and Marcia Milchiker became trustees in this election. (Swanson died in 1993 and was replaced by Teddi Lorch.)
At that point, the union had the votes it needed to get Stevens fired.
Stevens announced his resignation in January of 1986.
At the time, Bill Watts, opined: “I think [the faculty’s] biggest complaint is that Larry Stevens expected them to work five days a week"(1/8/86). McKnight spoke of a “communication problem” between Stevens and faculty.
“Faculty in the Coast Community College District [sic], after failing at a recall, succeeded in electing three union-endorsed trustees, who became the new board majority. The incumbent chancellor, whom the union opposed, resigned a week after those elections” (1/8/86).
The terms of Stevens’ resignation were that “neither the trustees nor Stevens would issue any ‘negative comments’ about each other” (1/8/86).
Upon Stevens’ exit, executive Vice Chancellor (of Educational Services and Student Development) David Habura served as acting chancellor (2/26/86).
Eventually, Richard Sneed succeeded Stevens as Chancellor.
* * * *
In 1986, Stevens became “Assistant Professor of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education” at San Diego State U. He retired in 1991. He came out of retirement to set up Cascadia Community College. He then worked in accreditation until 2001. He is again retired.
Bob Cosgrove said...
When Stevens was interviewed he indicated that he taught communication courses but no one followed up on that until I requested a copy of his dissertation. In the blurb that we all write about ourselves, he indicated that he taught in (I believe) an elementary school. He was not quite as forthright as he claimed. The FA [faculty union] made copies of the self assessment page from his dissertation. There was a brief period of embarrassment for him and some BOT members. The dissertation was not well written and typical of bad education degrees of that time.
7:45 PM, January 01, 2010