The Academic Senate all but unanimously voted to deliver a vote of no confidence to the Board of Trustees at its next meeting after the board selected Fullerton College’s Rajen Vurdien and not interim president Robert Miller as the next president at PCC. Two senators abstained from the vote.
The result of the vote at the senate’s regular meeting Monday was met with applause from all senate members. It is the fourth vote of no confidence against the board in three years.
“The board didn’t listen to the PCC community,” senate secretary Pat Rose said at the meeting. “I was shocked in the boards decision that Miller would not be the next president. I’m wondering what the purpose was for all those interviews the board had with different campus members during the process.”
Board president Berlinda Brown said that she and the board was “disappointed” with the senate’s vote.
“The Board is disappointed that the Academic Senate has chosen to question its decision for the new Superintendent/President by a vote of no confidence,” Brown said in an email to the Courier. “The decision was not easy or lightly made. The Board considers the selection of the Superintendent/President as its most important function. The Board took the process very seriously to select the candidate who the Board believes will be able to best serve and advance the College for the benefit of students.
Brown said that the board appreciates that the senate may have favored Miller but that in the end it was the board’s decision to make.
“The Board asks that its decision be respected and that Dr. Vurdien be welcomed and respected as the new Superintendent/President,” Brown said.
Rose said that you couldn’t imagine what the board was thinking when it hired a new president during the complicated accreditation process.
“This might not change the decision they made, but I think we have to make a public statement that this board does not represent shared wisdom and will of its constituents on this campus,” Rose said.
Some members of the senate felt disheartened about PCC’s future with the current board.
“I believe that it’s never going to get better,” said Jane Hallinger of the Visual Arts and Media Studies department. “The board has put up a dam and they are sitting on top of it and they control things their way. The board is supposed to be open with us and yet they will not talk with us.”
Hallinger, who has been teaching at PCC for over 25 years, said that she was here when Trustee Jeanette Mann was elected but that she had lost her way.
“Mann started out as a board member trying to listen but has veered away from that and has become very controlling,” Hallinger said. “Through her support, I think she is controlling the board and through that we have lost the support of all but one or two board members.”
Mann did not reply to several emails requesting comment on this story.
Bianca Richards, a PCC counselor, said that the senate had to get this information about the vote of no confidence out to the board’s districts so that the public could replace some board members in the next elections.
“There is an election coming up in Mann’s district,” Richards said. “We need to give support to the candidate running against her.”
The vote of no confidence also addresses other issues the senate has had with the board in the past year, such as the board striking down a calendar that had a winter session and the pending lawsuit against the school alleging Brown Act violations.
Senate president Eduardo Cairo said that he would be reading the senate’s resolution to the board on Wednesday at its meeting.