College Board Plans Swift Action to Find Successor to Craig

Times Staff Writer

The Glendale Community College board will "move forward with all deliberate speed" to seek an interim replacement for college President Dr. H. Rex Craig, who died Saturday, board President Rae Berry said this week.

But a permanent successor to Craig, who was the first president and superintendent of the Glendale Community College District, is not likely to be found until next year, board member Robert Holmes said.

"We are going to start a nationwide search for a replacement," Holmes said. "Unfortunately, that takes a long time. Most college presidents start work in the summer so it will be hard to find somebody that is not working now. As a practical matter, we will not hire a new president until next spring or summer."

Reviewing Options

Board members were to begin closed-session discussions Wednesday night and are scheduled to meet again tonight to review options for replacing Craig, who had been ill with lymphatic cancer since late May. Craig, 47, died at Glendale Memorial Hospital.

John Davitt, vice president of instructional services, was appointed as the college's temporary chief executive officer in June. He and other college senior administrators will be considered as interim president, board members said. In an interview, Davitt said he will accept the position if it is offered.

But Holmes said the board will also consider looking outside the college for a retired administrator to serve as an interim president and college district superintendent.

Expressions of Grief

Board members expressed grief over Craig's death. One of the members, Kenneth Sweetnam, described Craig as "a very strong administrator and a personal friend."

Holmes credited Craig with moving the college forward quickly after he was hired in 1982 as president and superintendent of the newly formed Glendale Community College District. That was the year the college broke away from the Glendale Unified School District.

"Dr. Craig was active in bringing in local community industry and people to the college by making contact with major businesses such as Lockheed and JPL (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and getting them interested in donating equipment, grants and scholarships," Holmes said.

Decisions Delayed

Berry and Holmes agreed that Craig's illness had slowed decisions by the board during the last two months.

"All along we had expected him to return to work," Berry said. "The board had been acting in a tentative manner, holding off decisions while awaiting his return."

A proposal by Craig to reorganize his administrative staff by consolidating some positions had been stalled.

"We have had some retirements and deaths and he was trying to figure out how to organize the college so that we wouldn't have to replace some people to save ourselves and the taxpayers some money," Holmes said. "It upset some people, but it was a major improvement."

Craig previously had been a teacher and college administrator at community colleges in Nebraska and Colorado. Before coming to Glendale, Craig was president of Contra Costa Community College.

"He was a very dynamic leader who provided direction and guidance during our separation process from the Glendale Unified School District," Davitt said. "Both he and the college board brought a new awareness of the college to the community."

Memorial services for Craig will be at 4 p.m. Monday at Grandview Presbyterian Church in Glendale.

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