Irvine Valley faculty expresses its unhappiness (OC Reg)
EDUCATION: Poll taken Friday results in overwhelming no-confidence vote against two administrators.
November 1, 2000
By MARLA JO FISHER
The Orange County Register
IRVINE - Teachers at troubled Irvine Valley College have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the leadership of the college president and district chancellor, some visually demonstrating their displeasure Tuesday by setting up a mock campus cemetery of 80 cardboard tombstones.
Sixty-five percent of the 112 faculty members eligible to vote cast ballots, with 94.4 percent of those expressing no confidence in Chancellor Cedric Sampson and 90.1 percent saying they had no confidence in President Raghu Mathur, according to a memo from Academic Senate President Traci Fahimi.
Sampson on Tuesday questioned the legality of the secret ballot and said it was the work of a small number of malcontents hoping to influence next week’s trustee election.
“This is the same group that has been attempting to keep publicity about our campus bad,” Sampson said.
A spokesman for the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges said such a vote is unusual.
“It is a very serious condemnation and looked upon seriously by most boards of trustees,” spokesman Paul Simmons said.
“The statewide senate voted no confidence in the previous community college chancellor, and he was gone within the year.”
In 1998, Fullerton College faculty voted no confidence in then-President Vera Martinez, and she left that job six months later.
Mathur did not return phone calls Tuesday asking for comment. He issued a written statement questioning the motivation for the no-confidence vote, the second in the past year.
“The educational interests of the students and taxpayers of the South Orange County Community College District are a No. 1 priority for me,” Mathur said in his prepared statement. “An election-time vote instigated primarily by disgruntled union activists is suspect of being in contempt of these interests that I support.”
At Irvine, faculty members are unhappy that they have been excluded from key decisions on campus, including the selection of the president and the hiring of top administrators. District trustees voted in 1997 to stop paying them for out-of-classroom duties such as serving on academic committees, and a number of long- term employees have left over the past three years.
“This is a request to the powers-that-be that our views be noted and recorded,” Peter Morrison, the former president of the Academic Senate, said Tuesday. “It has no binding power at all.”
Traditionally, college campuses are run jointly by administrators and faculty, with the teachers paid to serve on committees that decide, for example, whether to change curriculum or hire a department head.
The no-confidence vote comes only a week before the general election, when south Orange County voters will decide the fate of two trustees, Dorothy Fortune and John Williams, who voted to appoint Mathur and Sampson to office.
Williams and Fortune reiterated their support for Mathur, who last year received a contract renewal and pay raise.
“I think he’s doing an outstanding job,” Williams said. “As you look back over the last year, it’s the same small number of critics.”
Some employees followed up Friday’s faculty vote with an elaborate cardboard display of tombstones Tuesday, ostensibly to note employees forced out or disciplined by Mathur.
Irvine Valley students were curious about the tombstone protest.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s not very good to the professors, especially a biology teacher I really like,” said Leila Nouri. “Even the nurses in the health center are not happy about it. They don’t speak about him fondly.”
Sampson said the Oct. 12 decision of the Academic Senate to hold a confidence vote was illegal because it was conducted by secret ballot. Morrison said the Senate decided to vote by secret ballot so none of the faculty senators could be personally retaliated against by administrators unhappy with the results.
The attorney for South Orange County Community College District wrote to the Academic Senate on Oct. 23, threatening to sue over the vote and a potential Brown Act violation.
“We trust the Senate will take appropriate action to promptly cure and correct,” attorney Lois Jeffrey wrote.