Sunday, January 31, 2010

Will the fix be in—again?

fix, n . . .2. Any arrangement by which laws, rules, or regulations are circumvented...‘his mob got a license (police permission) to hustle (steal) on the cannon (picking pockets) here. The fix is in solid.’ 1953 Big Heat He had come up through the ranks of a society that was founded on the fix. (The OED)

Late in June, Raghu P. Mathur will cease his remarkable tenure as chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District.

That’s exactly five months away.

That would seem to be enough time to search for his replacement.

Naturally, a search and hire should be honest, fair, and competent, maximizing the chances of finding the best possible leader for our district.

Not a Yes man. Someone who can guide the board when he/she needs to.

Further, an honest search could mark a new beginning for the district, now that the odious Mathur, who, along with Trustee John Williams* (himself the subject of embarrassing and disturbing stories of incompetence, cronyism, and other varieties of poor conduct in recent months), is the common thread running through the district’s decline in repute and morale, which started in December of 1996 and which arguably continues to this day.

It’s worth remembering the district’s spotty and sometimes dismal record of Presidential and Chancellor search/hires in the last dozen or so years. Here's part of the story:

“Trustee calls for outside intervention,” Irvine World News, September 11, 1997
College district 'incapable of responsible self-government'
Decrying the process, "or lack thereof" by which Raghu Mathur was selected as the new president of Irvine Valley College Monday, community college Trustee David Lang of Irvine said Tuesday he is seeking the intervention of statewide community college Chancellor Thomas Nussbaum in the affairs of the South Orange County Community College District….
. . .
Lang said he is asking for outside intervention because the south county college board and the district seem "incapable of responsible self-government."
. . .
Irvine Valley faculty members said Tuesday they fear retaliation–harassment or even dismissal—by the board and Mathur for their lack of support during the selection of a replacement for Dan Larios, who left Irvine Valley College last spring to head Fresno City College in his hometown. ¶ Lang said he can understand their fears. ¶ But in an interview following Monday night's meeting of the college board, Trustee John Williams of Mission Viejo said he fully supports the process that was used by the board and the appointment of Mathur to the position. ¶ He said Mathur was "the top candidate for the job all the way through the hiring process."
. . .
"He was just the best person for the job," Williams said of Mathur.
. . .
Trustee Joan Hueter of Tustin said Wednesday that she is saddened by recent actions of the board. ¶ "I have worked with boards before that could disagree and still get along and move forward. This (board) is just unbelievable," Hueter said….
“Bizarre beat goes on at college district,” editorial, Irvine World News, September 11, 1997
Four members of the South Orange County Community College Board of Trustees have made a mockery of shared governance and continue on their campaign of political revenge. ¶ …[Raghu] Mathur is now Irvine Valley's president. ¶ What's next? Look for reprisals against a select list of faculty members and administrators at Irvine Valley who have spoken out against the board majority. ¶ Such an exercise in raw political power, of course, would be repressive and wrong. That doesn't seem to bother the board majority, however….
O.C. Chancellor Selection Called Best Choice, Sham, LA Times, February 2, 2002
Education: New Orange County college chief had earlier received two 'no-confidence' votes from faculty and was the fourth or fifth choice of a selection committee
…The appointment of Raghu P. Mathur, president of Irvine Valley College, by the conservative-controlled board of trustees had been widely expected. Many faculty members on Friday called the selection process a sham. ¶ Mathur, 53, was ranked fourth or fifth among the five candidates the selection committee forwarded to trustees, said Lee Haggerty, who, as president of the teachers union, sat on the panel…. ¶ "He was going to be their man from the beginning," Haggerty said.
. . .
The vote was 5-2, with David Lang and Marcia Milchiker voting against Mathur's appointment.
. . .
Mathur will be paid $170,000 to $180,000 a year, with details of his contract still to be negotiated, Wagner said. ¶ Mathur is expected to take over Monday.
. . .
Controversy has followed Mathur since the board voted 4-3 to appoint him interim president of Irvine Valley in April 1997, promoting him from chairman of the school of physical sciences. ¶ Five months later, a judge ruled that the board had violated the state open-meetings law in making the appointment. ¶ Faculty members said he lacked administrative experience and was too closely aligned with trustees. ¶ In 1998, 75% of faculty at Irvine Valley voted "no confidence" in him, and a year later, the faculty senate called for his removal. ¶ In 1999, 90% of the faculty said they had no confidence in Mathur.
In May of 2004, 93.5% of district faculty (77% participated) voted “no confidence” in Chancellor Mathur:

No-Confidence Vote Will Be 3rd for College Chief, LA Times, May 17, 2004
Huge Vote Against College Chief, LA Times, May 18
…Trustees appointed Mathur chancellor even though a hiring committee did not rank him among the top three candidates, according to Lee Haggerty, then union president, who sat on the panel. ¶ Teachers say Mathur and the elected board have taken away many of their powers to govern college life and added rules to control faculty.
--A year later, the board reconsidered renewing Mathur’s contract:

In the end, Mathur’s contract was renewed, with strong support from Raghu’s new friend, Dave Lang.

A colleague who is close to Lang later explained to me that Lang sought to run for OC Treasurer.

*Marcia Milchiker has been trustee during this period (she first joined the board in 1986), but she has generally opposed Mathur and his controversial actions and policies.


Anonymous said...

OF COURSE the fix is IN. That's why it took so long to let Raghu go - they needed to get it all in order - it will all play like dominos.

Anonymous said...

Please note that not everything Raghu has done or may yet do is of his choosing nor will a competent successful candidate to replace him be able to do better if his bosses so direct him or her. He or she has 4 bosses to whom he or she must report and whose whims or good decisions he or she must deliver to the rest of us. I have been a long-time critic of some BOT members and of this chancellor. And yes I'm glad to see him go though I don't gloat over his fall any more than John Edward's or Tiger Woods'. Their fallibility is evident in most of us in varying degrees I suspect.

Let us not just hope for a better, stronger chancellor with some character and backbone but for a BOT who change to become interested in students and education. That's probably asking for a lot but just maybe some changes for the better may come about.

Anonymous said...

Hire me! I'll work for 'way, 'way cheaper than Goober, and I'll quit if there's a no confidence vote.

I don't have time to fill out any e-stinking paperwork, so consider this my formal application. Since your BoT apparently doesn't believe in an open process to pick a new Chancellor, this should not be a problem.

--100 miles down the road

Anonymous said...

Is there any hope that the trustees (as if there is "trust" here) will conduct a legitimate search the way more honest and open districts do? If the board can't even agree whether Mathur was fired or, as he wants to claim, "retired voluntarily," what makes us think we will get anything better this time around? That the applicants won't be fed the interview questions as they were before!

Anonymous said...

And don't forget how Mathur overroad the hiring committee and appointed his personal pick, Tod Burnett, as the next pres of Saddleback.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently a third year student at IVC and am simply appalled at the outrageous politics embedded in the "leadership" of our school's district.

It's also a little disheartening that students are not the single bit aware of all of these transgressions, although sadly, I don't think the majority would even care.

I'm glad I stumbled upon this blog, and it was nice to see a few of my beloved professors standing up for what they believed is right.

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