Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District have launched their bid to find a new chancellor to head the nation's largest community college system with the hiring of an executive search firm to guide the process over the coming months.
The district's Board of Trustees, which had decided not to renew Chancellor Neil Yoneji's contract when it expires next October, voted Wednesday night to pay $25,000 to the Assn. of Community College Trustees to help find a successor for the nine-campus, 97,212-student district.
"Someone who wants to have a quiet, comfortable life doing the things they've always done is not a good candidate for chancellor in Los Angeles," said trustee Lindsay Conner. "The person has to be a visionary. The person has to be a risk-taker. The person has to be a real leader."
Although the trustees have not publicly set a time line, Conner said he expects the board will name a search committee of district representatives and community leaders by January to review applicants. And he said the board could make a final decision as early as May.
The trustees' voted 4 to 3 in September to oust Yoneji from the $125,000-a-year position after he had served only one year on the job but had drawn loud protests from activists and politicians. Critics include Los Angeles school board members Barbara Boudreaux and George Kiriyama, Councilwoman Rita Walters and several state lawmakers.
The same four-member board majority--Althea Baker, Lindsay Conner, Gloria Romero and Kenneth Washington--voted Wednesday to hire the search firm. And the board clearly remained divided, with trustees David Lopez-Lee and Julia Wu, who supported Yoneji, refusing to vote.
Some officials believe the district will have a tough time attracting highly qualified candidates because of reasons that could include Yoneji's abrupt ouster, the serious financial and facility problems facing the district, and because other college systems pay higher salaries.
The pay for the Los Angeles job ranked sixth among 19 community college chancellors in 1994-95 and was $20,000 less than the highest-paid executive position, according to a state survey. Conner said the board may have to consider increasing the salary, but added, "We can't raise it drastically."