Walthers out as president of Las Positas College
'Handful' of students, staff, faculty blaming him for 'unfavorable budget cuts'
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.
Walthers gave notice to the board two weeks ago after weeks of political infighting and budget bickering put him on the outs with the board and some faculty and student leaders. He has been criticized for making deep financial cuts to programs other than academics because of tightening state funding.
Walthers, who came here from the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy from the University of Utah. He was a finalist in a very public interview procedure that Las Positas championed, a process that has left other education leaders questioning its effectiveness.
Walthers' resignation and the apparent divisiveness on both the Las Positas campus and in the college district as well, comes at an inopportune time for the college, which is seeking voter approval next Tuesday of Measure I, a $28 parcel tax on those who live in the Las Positas College district. Walthers had been a strong public booster of the tax measure. He joined Art Dao of the Alameda Country Transportation Commission on Oct. 10 at a Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce meeting to gain the support of business for the measure, and also has been making the rounds as the college spokesman to local Rotary clubs.
Word of Walthers' exit was kept quiet with any announcement keyed to after the Nov. 6 election so that it wouldn't affect voters' opinions on the parcel tax. But the student newspaper, the Las Positas College Express, a taxpayer-supported publication, spilled the beans with an editorial telling students that their college "will soon have its third president in as many years."
"This fact, coupled with the controversy surrounding the administration of current president Kevin Walthers, signals that something is wrong with the LPC-Chabot College district's hiring process for this position," it said.
The story then criticizes the college's hiring techniques without ever reporting that Walthers has actually given notice or if he was being dismissed by the board of trustees.
Walthers confirmed to the Pleasanton Weekly that he and his wife and son will be leaving Livermore when the right new position comes along. Active in Livermore civic, city and recreational activities since moving there, the family has been hoping for a "Christmas miracle" as criticism over his management style and decisions heated up.
Finding a replacement for Walthers won't be easy. Educators point out that the Chabot-Las Positas College District has been "unstable politically" for several years. The district's budget is now in its sixth year of structural imbalance, one top college administrator reported. The district is on its third chancellor since June and expects another by the end of the school year.
The administrator said the Las Positas' system of holding open interviews for candidates "is transparency run amok." Four candidates were interviewed two years ago in the first search for a new college president, four top administrators at their own colleges who told their boards that they were considering the Livermore position. After months of researching their qualifications and hearing them present publicly the reasons why they should be hired, the search committee rejected all of them and the process started again.
"I don't think the frustrations of a handful of faculty and staff members are personal, I just happen to be the person in the big chair," Walthers said. "Even so, the recent actions taken by some have led me to start taking the calls of search consultants."