While the search for the new president of San Joaquin Delta College is now underway, the college's board of trustees still has much to decide on how to replace outgoing President/Superintendent Raul Rodriguez.
At Tuesday night's regularly scheduled meeting, the board put the wheels in motion to find an interim president to replace Rodriguez, who, after serving for the last eight years, will be stepping down on Aug. 6 to take a chancellor job for one of the state's largest community college districts in Southern California.
Assistant Superintendent and Vice President of Instruction Kathleen Hart, who currently fills in for Rodriguez as acting president when he is out of town, will be the acting president if an interim is not selected before Rodriguez leaves.
Rodriguez had to leave the meeting early on Tuesday night, and when Hart took his seat on the board, she made it clear she was not interested in taking on Rodriguez's position permanently. Vince Brown, the vice president of human resources and employee relations, said he is not interested in the position either, and didn't believe any of the school's other vice presidents, such as Vice President of Information Technology Lee Belarmino, would be either.
The board was divided on whether or not to allow the interim president to apply for the permanent position.
"It gives a leg up over other candidates. It could be discouraging to external applicants," said trustee Janet Rivera.
The trustees voted to open the position to external and internal candidates, and using companies like Professional Personnel Leasing, Inc. to help find interested applicants, but couldn't agree on much else. Those decisions came after extensive bickering.
Trustee May Ann Cox said looking at internal candidates first could save the school time and money.
"I think we should go in-house first. I think there are people who are qualified, they know the college, they know they issues," she said. "We have several deans who could take a look at it and would have the administrative experience to do it."
Brown, as well as trustees including Steve Castellanos and Ted Simas, voiced their opinions in trying to bring in as many candidates as possible by looking beyond the college's current employees.
"I think the important thing here is to look at the entire scope of internal and external candidates and find the best possible candidate," Castellanos said. "To be honest with you, I don't think there are a million of these guys looking for jobs right now. I think it is a pretty shallow pool in California right now."
After a long discussion, the board tentatively decided to have a workshop on July 13 to decide the details of who will head the search for the new permanent president and who will be qualified to be selected for it. They will also form a search committee to help with the selection and interview process.
Whatever criteria is agreed upon, Brown believes the process could take a while.
"My best guess is that you are not able to do it in the current environment under six months," he said. "It will more likely to be nine months to a year."
Taj Kahn, Lodi's representative on the board, hopes the college can move faster on replacing Rodriguez.
"It just blows me away that it will take one year to find a new president," Kahn said. "I think it could be done better, more efficiently."
In other action
— The trustees approved the naming of three of Delta's facilities on Tuesday night. Delta's new softball field will now be named after longtime coach C. Bucky Layland. Layland, who is a member of the Lodi Hall of Fame, retired in 2004 after leading the Mustangs to the regional playoffs 18 of her 19 seasons, including seven trips to the state tournament. Delta's new district data center will be named the Lee Belarmino District Data Center after current Vice President of Information Technology Lee Belarmino, who has worked at the college for 24 years and helped revolutionize the use of technology at Delta. Also, Delta renamed its Veterans' Resource Center to the Leo P. Burke Veterans' Resource Center. Burke served on Delta's board of trustees for 29 years and was a World War II veteran.
— The board honored instructor Janice Takahashi, who will be stepping down after serving on Delta's Academic Senate for 20 years, including most recently as the president.
— Gwendolyn Primous took her new place as Delta's student representative to the board of trustees.