PASADENA — Jack A. Scott, president of Cypress College in Orange County, was named president of Pasadena City College last week.
Five members of the board of trustees voted for Scott, while the two other board members abstained, protesting what they called pressure from some members of the faculty to vote against Bonnie James, the other finalist for the presidency.
Scott, 53, who has been president of Cypress College since 1978, said the PCC presidency "just seemed like an unusual opportunity." He is leaving a community college with 13,000 students for one with 23,000 students, one of the largest in the state. The PCC district extends from La Canada Flintridge to Arcadia and El Monte.
Board members Walter Shatford and Richard Green said that although Scott has their support, their abstentions were statements on behalf of James, assistant superintendent and head of finance at PCC. James and Scott were the top contenders from 88 applicants nationwide.
Shatford and Green said they abstained because of what they considered unfair accusations by some faculty members who called James unqualified for the presidency.
Blamed in 1983
Shatford said opposition to James stemed from a budget crunch in 1983 when teacher organizations blamed James, then director of business and financial services, for laying off more than 20 faculty members. James was not responsible for the layoffs, Shatford said.
Criticism of James's candidacy "rose to a crescendo, and board members' phones were ringing off the hook," Shatford said.
Board President Susanna Miele said she had been deluged with letters both for and against James.
"I was using the occasion (the board vote) to make a statement, to close hunting season on Dr. James," Shatford said. While race was not an issue, he said the failure to choose James, a black, would disappoint many in the black community.
In explaining his abstention, Green said he did not want to split the board by voting for James, "and I didn't want to vote against Dr. Scott. This was not a negative vote. I think we now have an excellent president."
Miele said Scott, in a conference phone call with board members, agreed to accept the post without the board's unanimous vote and with the understanding that he had the support of Shatford and Green.
Miele said the board is enthusiastic about Scott, who is credited with increasing Cypress College enrollment by about 15% and expanding support of the school's foundation from $10,000 a year to $350,000. She said his extensive community activities also made him a strong candidate.
Scott will take over the PCC presidency in July or August, at a salary to be announced at Thursday's board meeting.
James said he knows that he is "presidentially qualified" and he's "interested in leading an educational institution. So I'm trying to evaluate my options. I've contacted Jack Scott and extended my congratulations."
John Casey, who is retiring as president because of a back injury, earns $89,000, plus an automobile and other benefits, Miele said.