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Cerritos College Trustees Fill V. P. Vacancy, Reject Faculty's Top 3 Choices

July 03, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

NORWALK — After months of squabbling with some of its faculty over hiring procedures, the Cerritos College Board of Trustees has selected a Texas community college administrator as its vice president of instructional services.

Manuel G. Rivera, vice president of academic affairs at San Antonio College in San Antonio, Tex., received a 6-1 vote from the board Tuesday. Rivera was not one of the three candidates recommended to the board by the faculty screening committee.

"It stinks. This completely negates the opinion of the faculty screening committee," said Martha Yeager-Garcia, chairman of the college's English as a second language division.

But board President Dale Hardeman said that while Rivera was not among the final three, he was among the final eight candidates selected by the screening committee.

"We had eight splendid candidates. We felt Dr. Rivera is exceptional. He will provide the leadership we need," Hardeman said.

Lone Dissenting Vote

Mark Durant cast the only vote against Rivera, saying he was voting his conscience. Hardeman called the 6-1 ballot a "vote of confidence."

Rivera, 44, who has a masters degree in Spanish and Mexican-American Studies from San Jose State and a doctoral degree in education from the University of Oregon, was expected to be offered the job this week. A salary and start date will be decided then, said Wilford Michael, Cerritos College president.

Rivera, who has been at San Antonio College since 1984, has been a dean at Hartnell College in Salinas and assistant professor at Santa Barbara City College and he has taught at both Humboldt State and Stanislaus State.

If he accepts the offer from Cerritos College, Rivera would replace Olive Scott. Scott submitted her resignation in December, effective June 30. Scott, who has been at the college since 1959, is a professor of cosmetology and had overseen instructional services at the 18,000-student campus since 1979. She has been given the option of returning to the classroom. She is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

There had been grumbling among some faculty members that Scott had been forced to resign but Hardeman said that Scott "resigned for her own reasons." Hardeman, however, said he would not have supported a renewal of Scott's contract as vice president.

The resignation of Scott and the subsequent steps taken by the board of education to replace her had brought criticism from some faculty members. That criticism was heightened when board member Barbara Hayden tried to place a hiring freezing on four teaching positions until the new vice president of instruction was hired.

1-Year Contract Extensions

During the same period, college president Michael and the vice president of business services, Walter C. Magnuson, were given one-year extensions on existing contracts to run through June 30, 1987.

"This looks like an unstable situation from some faculty members' standpoint. But with the naming of the vice president a lot of problems will be settled," Michael said in an interview before Rivera's hiring.

Some faculty members, though, accused the board of playing power politics after two new members--Hayden and Durant--were elected in November.

"The action by this new board," said chemistry instructor Newton Werner "with the top three administrators either given one-year contracts or dismissed, is not an overwhelming vote of confidence."

At two recent board meetings Werner and other faculty members accused the board of interfering with the administration of the college. Hayden in particular came under attack for her call for a hiring moratorium.

"I have some concerns about filling job vacancies, perhaps rather hurriedly, (for) jobs that report directly or indirectly to the vice president of instructions," Hayden said during the June 3 meeting. "I would not like to see us do any more hiring until the vice president is hired."

'Abuses and Manipulations'

Hayden told the board she was concerned about "numerous phone calls both within and without Cerritos College" alleging "several abuses and manipulations" by a faculty screening committee to hire four new instructors.

"The calls seemed to be directed at the screening committee's makeup and the hiring of friends and the placement of certain people in certain specific positions," Hayden said. "The allegations were made and I thought they deserved a certain measure of consideration."

The board initially voted 4 to 3 to support a moratorium, with Hayden, Durant, Hardeman and Ada Steenhoek voting in favor of the moratorium. However, following a lengthy and tense discussion with faculty members, the board reconsidered its vote and lifted the moratorium on a 5-2 vote. Durant and Hardeman changed their vote.

The 5-2 vote allowed four new faculty members--two math instructors, an English as a second language instructor and an instructor in dental hygiene--to be hired.

Members of the faculty screening committee were livid and let the board know it during the June 3 meeting.

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