The governing board of Saddleback College voted 4 to 3 Monday to divide the college into two separate institutions, creating an eighth community college in Orange County as of July 1 if state officials approve.
Trustees voted to transform the north campus of the college, located in Irvine, into a new school with a name to be selected later. The present south campus in Mission Viejo will remain Saddleback College.
The trustees' vote came after sharp debate, with one opponent charging that state law was being circumvented. But supporters said the change is merely semantic, involves no added cost and is favored by both faculty and students.
Review by State
The trustees' action must be reviewed by the state Community College Board in Sacramento. Saddleback Chancellor Larry Stevens told trustees that state Chancellor Gerald Hayward had assured him the state board would approve the change.
Each campus now has a separate president and both report to Stevens as Chancellor. That would not change. The Saddleback north campus in Irvine has about 5,000 students; the Mission Viejo south campus has about 18,000 students.
Saddleback Board of Trustees President William Watts said after the vote Monday night, "I don't see any major changes in the district organization, and I don't see any increase in cost."
But opponents argued that a new college will create a variety of problems for Saddleback Community College District, covering an area extending from Tustin and Irvine in the north to San Clemente in the south.
"I think we're going to create more rivalry and more competition between the campuses," said trustee Robert Price, one of the three who voted against the resolution. Trustee Eugene McKnight, who also opposed the change, vehemently argued that the Saddleback Board had not complied with state regulations for creating a new college.
But Watts, in rebuttal, said that the board had fully complied with state regulations and had obtained the state's blessing when the north campus was first created in 1979. Watts said state officials do not care about nomenclature--whether an institution is called a campus or a college--but leave that decision to local boards.
The third trustee voting against the status change was John C. Connolly, who was silent during the debate. After the vote, he told reporters that he felt any comment he made would only be redundant to the points made by Price.