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Cerritos College Loses New Academic VP to 'Better Offer'

July 10, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

NORWALK — A Texas community college administrator who had accepted the position of vice president of instructional services at Cerritos College has changed his mind and instead will become president of San Bernardino Valley College.

Manuel G. Rivera, vice president of academic affairs at San Antonio College in San Antonio, accepted the Cerritos position July 2 but informed college officials on July 3 that "San Bernardino had offered him the president's job," said Wilford Michael, Cerritos College president.

"He said it was a once-in-a-lifetime offer. He couldn't turn it down. It had nothing to do with Cerritos College. Naturally, it came as a shock, but I knew he was under consideration for the San Bernardino position," Michael said.

The decision leaves the 18,000-student campus again searching to fill the vice president's job, and revives a dispute between trustees and a faculty selection committee. The faculty panel maintains its recommendations were ignored when the board hired Rivera on July 1.

"San Bernardino simply made me a better offer," said Rivera, 44, who has been at San Antonio College for two years. He previously taught at a number of California colleges.

Better Offer Cited

"San Bernardino was better in terms of the contract, in terms of the pay, moving expenses, travel allowances and career-wise," Rivera said.

He declined to be specific about the offer, saying Valley College has not made the announcement public. That is expected today.

Rivera said the Cerritos offer of $62,450 and a two-year contract was considerably less than that offered by Valley College, a two-year community college with about 9,000 students. Valley is one of two colleges in the San Bernardino Community College District. The other one is Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, which has more than 4,000 students.

Richard Jones, chancellor for the two-college district, declined to discuss any aspect of the situation, and would not even say if Rivera had been hired. Jones said there would be no announcement until today's board meeting.

Rivera said he had applied for the two positions and received the job offer from Cerritos first.

Soon after, he said, he received the job offer from San Bernardino and "reconsidered."

Squabbling With Faculty

After months of squabbling with some of its faculty over hiring procedures, the Cerritos College Board of Trustees selected Rivera, 44, on a 6-1 vote July 1.

The selection further enraged some of the faculty because Rivera was not one of the three candidates recommended to the board by the faculty screening committee.

"We haven't made up our minds what direction we will take" now that Rivera has changed his mind, board President Dale Hardeman said.

A decision is likely when the board meets Tuesday, Hardeman said.

"There are several possibilities. We could start the process over and re-advertise the job. We could select from the seven remaining finalists. We could select someone on an interim basis while a decision is made," Hardeman said.

Rivera was one of 74 job applicants. That pool was pared to 10 by a nine-member screening committee. The names were finally reduced to three and further reduced to two when one of the three finalists accepted a job offer elsewhere. (One of the seven semifinalists also took a job offer elsewhere.)

'An Ongoing Saga'

It is possible that dissatisfaction will continue among some of the faculty members whatever decision is made by the board.

"This is an ongoing saga. I think it would be difficult to get people to serve on another screening committee," said biology professor John Boyle, chairman of the 26-member Faculty Senate.

"I would prefer that the board accept the two finalists of the screening committee," Boyle said.

Everett Baker, chemistry professor and one of the members of the screening committee, said he "was opposed to starting over. I feel they have a good pool to make a selection.

"I think for the good of the school, it is important to get somebody in there and functioning."

Edward Bloomfield, the chairman of the nine-member screening committee, said he also favored the board's making a selection but wanted that person to come "from the final two candidates."

"That would maintain the integrity of the screening committee."

Rivera Not a Finalist

Rivera, who would have replaced Olive Scott, was not one of the three finalists recommended to the board by the screening committee. But he was among the 10 semifinalists.

Rivera would have replaced Arthur M. Jensen, who retired after 19 years as Valley College president.

Scott submitted her resignation in December, effective June 30. Scott, who had been at the college since 1959, is a professor of cosmetology and had overseen instructional services at the campus since 1979. She has been given the option of returning to the classroom. She is not working during the summer semester and could not be reached for comment. Fall classes start Aug. 18 and Scott was expected to return to the classroom, said Michael, the college president.

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