Walthers out as president of Las Positas College Comments on Stories, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Nov 2, 2012 at 11:52 am
Kevin Walthers, the popular president of Las Positas College, is looking for a new job just 16 months after the Chabot-Las Positas College Board of Trustees hired him in the second of two cross-country searches.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 2, 2012, 6:48 AM
Posted by JCG, a resident of the Las Positas neighborhood, on Nov 2, 2012 at 11:52 am
I'm having a difficult time articulating just how inaccurate and post hoc the reporting of this story is. It expends great effort to connect a personnel problem to budgeting when the connection is minimal or non-existent. For one, the line about the President being "criticized for making deep financial cuts to programs other than academics because of tightening state funding" is incorrect, most notably because college presidents in the Chabot-Las Positas College don't make that decision; college committees with "shared governance" make the choices over what level of instructional cuts or additions must be made and how much corresponding change is needed in non-instructional programs. The presidents choose how the district reductions are allocated once the numbers have been established, but they don't decide to cut or not cut classes. The line about the district being in its "sixth year of structural imbalance" is also slanted and misleading. The district has chosen for several years to use reserve funds to maintain class offerings to students without incurring debt or otherwise harming the long term stability of the district budget. That's not so much an "imbalance" as a prioritization (student access over maintaining a larger reserve balance).
Additionally, a cursory review of publicly available meeting minutes (which were, coincidentally, cited by the LPC student newspaper reporting of this story but not the Pleasanton Weekly) where discussions about the President took place would reveal that most of the concerns with the President have been about Management style and working conditions. While these are mentioned in the article at the end, they're buried beneath information that paints the President as a scape goat for budget cuts and, by contrast, the college and district as being unwilling to take the tough medicine of budget reductions (while also questionably linking the discussion to Measure I). The lack of quotation of students, faculty, senior administration (on the record) is likewise revealing about the accuracy of the portrait this article offers. How disappointing.
Posted by JCG, a resident of the Las Positas neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2012 at 12:44 am
Presidents tend to turn over rather quickly at community colleges; even before this last admittedly faster run of turnover, there were 4 different presidents between 2006 and 2009, for example (Chabot, also in the district, experienced similar turnover). I don't think the speed of turnover is necessarily indicative of anything (the previous presidents were either hired as interim presidents, retired, or left for larger schools closer to the presidents home turf) other than that community college administrators tend to come and go faster than is ideal. You try to account for someone's long-term intentions during hiring, but clearly it's a tough thing to assess effectively. The reason the turnover is getting attention now is because of the conflict within the college and district with the president.
What's going on is that the work environment under this president has become problematic and that a lot of internal work is stalled; the president of the college has been a rather good steward of the college's relationship to the community, but some basic planning and work environment issues that are supposed to be addressed through the president's office hasn't happened. The president has had a tendency to either micromanage others' work (the head of Campus Safety and the Security Office, for example) or to be uninvolved (say, in the campus's efforts to submit reports to maintain its accreditation, which the district office ended up having to complete on our behalf). I actually agree that he's done some great things like Foundation 55, but the basic management of the college has to function.
I guess one of the frustrations of how we look at public entities is that we often portray these institutions as keeping staff rather than letting them go when they're not performing up to expectation because we're not interested in accountability or efficiency, until we do work towards identifying problems and making changes because of accountability and efficiency and we're then viewed as being unstable or making poor decisions. Couldn't this actually be a good sign that we're working to be accountable and efficient? None of the other recent presidents ended their tenure because of a conflict; their departure was part of the plan when they were hired. This, however, is different. There is a conflict, which we do not have a history of. Rather than muddling on, losing talented staff, and struggling with planning, we're working towards a resolution. Isn't that kind of a good sign?
And Measure B has been extremely beneficial to the students (anyone who walks around campus can see this); ask a student now what they need to be successful and they'll say classes. As you know, the bond can't pay for classes but a parcel tax can. We've built the buildings and now we need to put classes in them(rather than taking classes out as the state's budgeting has required us to do, even as our demand has grown). I think the classes Measure I would create are a good investment; you may or may not feel quite the same way and that's reasonable. I guess I'm just making the case that the situation with the president and the decision about the parcel tax should be assessed on their own merits and not conflated. The college and district are a lot more than any one individual.
Posted by Mike, a resident of the Highland Oaks neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm
If you accept a position with the promise of sufficient support to do an effective job only to find that support lacking, then you can't be held accountable for not accomplishing what you were hired to do.
Posted by JCG, a resident of the Las Positas neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm
I was not part of the hiring committee, so what you suggest about "support" may well be spot on. If support means more direct coaching from the district, that may not have happened. However, if support means mentorship and guidance, there was a past interim president who worked directly with the president for most of the last year as a senior administrator in the business office who had also been with the college for many years. This administrator left the college for another district after a year of working with the president in part because the president was resistant to being guided and difficult for much of the other staff to deal with. The president has ownership of that situation and it mitigates the idea that there wasn't support. There was on the college level. It speaks poorly of his leadership and collegiality that the situation played out as it did, with a senior leader choosing to leave after many years of devotion to the college. This was also not the only senior staff person we lost in similar fashion. That is not the result of support or lack of support; that's a result of the president.
Posted by No on I, a resident of the Pheasant Ridge neighborhood, on Nov 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm
Why I won't vote for Measure I:
First, a couple of years ago the Board gave huge pay hikes to district administrators. See Web Link.
This year, the Board went behind closed doors and apparently gave $10,000 to the outgoing interim chancellor that was in addition to her original contract although the details have never been made public. From the meeting minutes about the closed door decision:
"The Board approved an amended contract for the Interim Chancellor, Susan A. Cota, to reflect recent changes in Legislation – AB 178 (State Teachers Retirement). The motion was made by Trustee Cedillo and seconded by Trustee Vecchiarelli." (Web Link).
Then they hired a new interim chancellor with no public comment.
They also promoted the HR director to Vice Chancellor.
Once the district bigwigs were secure, they then voted to force the working staff members to take five furlough days under their new contract.
Posted by Sad about CLPCCD, a resident of another community, on Nov 6, 2012 at 10:35 am
Regarding the above comments concerning the HR Director to Vice Chancellor....they did this without opening up the position to allow for qualified applicants to apply. The HR Director that was 'promoted' without due process does not have the proper qualifications, skills or experience to perform the job. He does not have a good reputation on the two campuses or the district office. By making this decision, it was clear that the Board of Trustees were just looking for a 'yes' person. This director is unprofessional and totally inept. The CLPCCD is not at a good place right now. Community members should take a very close look at what is occurring there.
Posted by Sad about CLPCCD, a resident of another community, on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:42 am
The accusations are factual. Was there a nationwide search for Vice Chancellor by the CLPCCD? Is the current Vice Chancellor qualified per the Ed Code excepting experience which does not list specific experience for the position of which he was illegitimately hired? Case closed. Yes, he is a yes man, yes he would say and do anything to save his own skin. Although I didn't care for the Vice Chancellor, at least she stood her ground, was confidential, knowledgeable and made decisions. She would not have allowed for the disrespect of a knowledgeable and qualified college president and would have followed protocol and conducted an investigation if the concerns relegated such. It is a travesty that the Vice Chancellor would allow individuals to voice their concerns directly to the board and for the board to assume and act. Hiring of unqualified individuals is not specific to the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources. This is par for the course as he is a crony of the CLPCCD board president who did the same when she hired the president at my home school Chabot which revealed racist discussions that occurred during the hiring process. She didn't meet the qualifications for president. And then the president of Chabot turns around and hires another unqualified person for Vice President of Business Services and changes the job description to ensure that he meets the qualifications. And then she anoints him Vice President of Instruction without a nationwide search. We now wait anxiously as she will surely anoint one of her cronies as Vice President of Student Affairs. And yet we return to Dr. Walthers who is very much qualified and an advocate for the college and the community and yet the CLPCCD would allow a president to be disrespected by the school. Cronyism, racism and ineptitude. And you wonder why there are so many legitimate lawsuits filed against CLPCCD.
Posted by Concerned Taxpayer, a resident of another community, on Nov 7, 2012 at 12:38 pm
As a taxpayer in the CLPCCD I am extremely concerned about the lack of transperancy in the hiring process that has been brought to my attention by these comments. There appears to be obscene violation of conduct by the Board and I find it extremely alarming. I hope that the accreditation board is looking in to the seriousness of the current condition of the district. Pleasanton Weekly, please do some investigating.
Posted by former employee, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm
I found that there always seemed to be money available for the Office of Human Resources. The colleges would need staffing to support students without the resources to hire, or promote. The Office of Human Resources always seeems to have the money to hire new managers, promote within the department without opening positions up for others more qualified to apply. It is not a surprise that they have again promoted without opening it up for outside candidates. The board knows that they have someone to do their bidding, otherwise why not open it up for others to apply?
I was one of the laid off employees that served students directly while the HR Director positioned himself for a promotion.