Avila Yields to Pressure, Agrees to Quit College Post
Arthur Avila, president of East Los Angeles College, has resigned under pressure, officials of the Los Angeles Community College District said Wednesday. Avila, who had held the post nine years, will receive $32,500 for “emotional distress” and his lawyers will get $2,500 as part of a settlement with the district.
Members of the District Board of Trustees had been unhappy with Avila’s leadership of the heavily Latino and Asian campus in Monterey Park for some time, several officials said, and wanted Avila’s fate settled before today, when Donald G. Phelps takes over as chancellor of the nine-campus system.
Avila’s resignation is the latest in a series of administrative shake-ups that began with the forced resignation of Chancellor Leslie Koltai last fall after the election of a new majority on the Board of Trustees.
The district was embarrassed last year by disclosures that Avila had written a letter of praise about business law professor Hal Mintz to the West Hollywood Business License Commission, which later voted to revoke the license of a massage parlor that Mintz owned. Mintz has pleaded no contest to charges of conspiracy to maintain a house of prostitution and state income tax evasion. Avila later said he would not have written the letter if he had known Mintz’s business was a massage parlor.
Three years ago, the faculty of East Los Angeles College narrowly approved a vote of no confidence against Avila, citing poor morale and lack of leadership. But Avila’s supporters said he did much to attract and help minority students and that he was saddled with budget problems not of his making.
Avila, 71, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. In a settlement document, Avila asserts that his removal “would be wrongful.” He will leave his post Dec. 31, be given the title of president emeritus and will receive a pension in addition to the $32,500 payment.
Avila, who has been with the district since 1955, was a professor of foreign languages and chairman of Chicano studies at Los Angeles Valley College. Well-known as a Chicano activist, he was vice president of the California Federation of Teachers and ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 1975.