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Firing of LACC Chancellor

February 18, 1996

I am in total agreement with Warren Furutani's Commentary (Feb. 4). The recent decision by the seven-member Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District to fire new Chancellor Neil Yoneji is outrageous. Hired just one year ago after a national search, Yoneji has just begun to make changes in the district's educational programs and services. Enrollments on once-thriving campuses have declined to levels not seen since 1970. Many of the district's students have fled to neighboring colleges that offered more attractive and relevant educational programs at better and safer facilities.

In his first year of a two-year contract, Yoneji moved firmly and openly to establish a new direction for the nine-campus system. Yoneji focused on three themes: student access and success, community and economic development, and a strong role for the system in enhancing community and cultural life. Yoneji emphasized cooperation with the K-12 and university systems. He created collaborations and partnerships to renew the district's educational programs and services. Importantly, Yoneji came up with a plan to fund the changes.

The board has long been dominated by employees who elect board members with their funds. Frightened and scared at the prospect of a strong CEO, four of the seven members fired Yoneji. When pressed, Lindsay Conner, the most vocal board member on the issue, admitted that the board has been vague on its rationale. In fact, he and Trustee Althea Baker praised the chancellor and the district's new direction.

The board has responded to the special interest group that pays to elect them and not to the students and people of Los Angeles. We must now step up and support Yoneji.

KERRY N. DOI

Executive Director

Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment, Los Angeles

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