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Pasadena City College president steps down

President Mark W. Rocha plans to leave Pasadena City College
Pasadena City College faculty had taken two no-confidence votes against Rocha

The controversial president of Pasadena City College will retire at the end of the month, officials announced Thursday.

Mark W. Rocha will step down from his nearly $250,000-a-year job at the end of this month, according to a statement from the college. The trustees soon will hire an interim president, according to the statement from spokeswoman Valerie Wardlaw.

"It’s time for me to spend more time with my family and return to my passion for teaching and writing," Rocha said in a statement.

He did not return a call for comment.

Rocha has been heavily criticized by some faculty, who said he has ignored the school's policy of consulting faculty on major decisions. Faculty leaders took two no-confidence votes in Rocha and were considering a third.

Tensions at the school were so high that a team of advisors visited the campus and told the adminstration and faculty they needed to "find a way to move forward."

Rocha was hired in 2010 after a four-year stint at West Los Angeles College. He also has worked at Seton Hall and Argosy University, a for-profit school.

Recently, he was a finalist for the top job at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn but did not get that position.

Some trustees had voiced support for Rocha, saying he had done a good job of leading the school during tough economic times and downplaying tensions among administration and staff.

"There's always turmoil," said board President Anthony Fellow in a brief interview earlier this year.

Fellow said the board was grateful for Rocha's service.

Rocha and the trustees have also been criticized for canceling winter sessions two years ago. Students said that they would have a harder time earning enough credits to graduate or transfer without the six-week session.

In an anonymous online survey conducted by some faculty, the majority of respondents said Rocha had done a poor job leading the school.

"Fascist approach to leadership," one wrote. "Rocha is destroying PCC," said another.

jason.song@latimes.com

Twitter: latjasonsong

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