The seven elected trustees of the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) are about to make a decision that can begin to move the District forward after almost a decade of dysfunction, embarrassment and a lack of direction.

Chancellor Raul Rodriguez who was hired in 2010, will be leaving June 30. The RSCCD trustees will be selecting his replacement among four finalists selected by a committee made up of representatives from RSCCD faculty, staff, administration and the community.

The new chancellor must have a vision, be able to stand up for our students and the community and work to bring back the collegial culture that existed prior to Rodriguez’s arrival in 2010. Rodriguez was hired without a public forum or a formal site visit which are usually conducted when high level administrators are hired. Recently he was a finalist for a position in New Mexico that ultimately went to another candidate. The majority of concerns about Rodriguez were outlined in a local newspaper related to issues while he was employed before he arrived at RSCCD.

These issues were widely publicized at the time he was hired by the RSCCD in 2010. Hopefully the trustees will not make the same mistake this time and allow the community and the RSCCD employees to meet the finalists, ask questions provide input and conduct a thorough background check.

The four finalists for the RSCCD chancellor position are: Dr. Utpal Goswami, Dr. Patricia Hsieh, Mr. Marvin Martinez and Dr. J. Arturo Reyes.

Dr. Goswami has three decades of experience working at the community college level in multiple states. He currently serves as president of Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods in Kansas City. His bio includes almost four decades of teaching and administrative experience equally divided. Prior to his current position, Goswami served in leadership positions in the California Community College system and has been a tenured faculty member.

Dr. Hsieh has served as president of San Diego Miramar College for over a decade. The San Diego Community College District is a large, diverse district much like RSCCD. Hsieh has held several management and faculty positions within the community college system including a stint as an interim president and as a counseling faculty member.

If hired, Hsieh would be the first woman to serve as RSCCD chancellor and would join the two women chancellors who now lead RSCCD’s neighboring districts, South County and North Orange County Community College Districts.

Mr. Martinez has spent over a decade in management positions within the Los Angeles Community College District – the country’s largest and most diverse. Since 2013 he has been president of East LA College. For over 20 years he has held various administrative positions in the California Community College system. Unlike the other candidates, Martinez does not have classroom or student services experience. He is also the only candidate without a terminal degree.

Dr. Reyes currently serves as president/superintendent of Mendocino College in rural Ukiah, CA. Mendocino College employees 57 faculty members. Reyes has been employed in multiple management positions at several California community colleges. He has also been a tenured faculty member.

Stalled negotiations with classified staff at Mendocino College brought out pickets earlier this year. The classified staff were upset that Reyes asked his elected board to reject the cost of living (COLA) raises for them after he accepted a 5% salary increase and his vice presidents received significant raises above COLA. A recent editorial, “There’s a problem at the college” appeared late last year in the Ukiah Daily Journal.

It’s not uncommon that applicants for high level college leadership positions seek employment at multiple colleges and districts. Chancellor Rodriguez was an applicant at several college districts before our trustees offered him the chancellorship. For the record, both Martinez and Reyes were finalists the past two years for local positions. Martinez sought the presidency at Long Beach CCD and Reyes was a finalist at Pasadena City College and the Ventura CCD.

Currently both have been named as finalists for the Presidency at Rio Hondo College along with Dr. Hsieh.

The RSCCD trustees must look beyond the years of experience these four candidates possess. An exhaustive resume and glib responses in an interview do not prove a candidate will succeed. Whatever it takes to find the appropriate candidate to serve our community college district, the trustees must make the right choice this time.

Dr. Barry Resnick, a professor of counseling, is completing his 39th year as a faculty member in the Rancho Santiago CCD. He has resided with his family in the city of Orange for 32 years.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

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