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Huge Vote Against College Chief

The Region

May 18, 2004|Jeff Gottlieb | Times Staff Writer

Faculty in the South Orange County Community College District overwhelmingly voted no confidence Monday in Chancellor Raghu Mathur.

Of the full-time professors at Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges who cast ballots, 93.5% voted in favor of no confidence, and 6% were against the union-sponsored measure. One person abstained.

Out of 318 faculty eligible, 246 -- 77% -- voted, according to the district faculty association.

"It's very clear that the chancellor does not have the confidence of the faculty," said Lewis Long, head of the faculty association. "Now it's up to the trustees to demonstrate whether they support the faculty and the students they represent."

Mathur issued a statement late Monday attributing the outcome to friction between him and faculty members relating to contract negotiations underway. "They are unhappy that I take direction from the elected board of trustees and not them," the statement said in part. "I believe that my day-to-day decisions and policy recommendations to the board need to continue to be guided by what is best for the students, first and foremost."

Donald Wagner, president of the board of trustees, characterized the vote as largely political.

"I'm not surprised that it passed," he said, "because the folks who were agitating for no confidence refused to give the chancellor a chance to address the issues they raised."

Faculty at Irvine Valley twice voted no confidence in Mathur, where he served as president from 1997 until his appointment as chancellor in 2002, putting him over Irvine Valley and Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.

Faculty members have been at odds with the former chemistry professor since shortly after the conservative-dominated board named him president, and Mathur replaced a system that relied on faculty to handle much of the college's administrative load.

Trustees appointed Mathur chancellor even though a hiring committee did not rank him among the top three candidates, according to Lee Haggerty, then union president, who sat on the panel.

Teachers say Mathur and the elected board have taken away many of their powers to govern college life and added rules to control faculty.

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