College District Hires Official Who Left Amid Scandals

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Tom Kimberling, a former community college administrator who resigned five years ago amid a series of scandals, was appointed Tuesday night to assist Ventura County's new chancellor in managing the district's budget.

Functioning on an hourly basis until a new budget chief is named, Kimberling will serve as an assistant to Chancellor Philip Westin, Ventura County Community College District board members announced after a closed-door session.

Word of his possible appointment drew an angry editorial from the Ventura College student newspaper and prompted one teacher to walk out of Tuesday's meeting.

Kimberling, 49, who had served as vice chancellor for administration in the three-college district, resigned in May 1991 after trustees questioned his ability to manage the district's finances.

At the time, a trustee was charged with falsifying travel records approved by Kimberling's office, discrepancies were discovered in a Moorpark College foundation and the district was facing $65,000 in penalties from the Internal Revenue Service.

At about the same time, Kimberling was convicted of beating his wife and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Board members, including some who served at the time of his resignation, expressed confidence in his ability to handle the new task.

"Tom Kimberling is one of the most competent and knowledgeable managers in business aspects in the state," said John Tallman, a board member who was an administrator with Kimberling.

The board members stressed that it was a limited position for a limited period of time.

"He is not managing anything," trustee Timothy Hirschberg said. "He is going to be advising Dr. Westin on budget issues."

The district's budget chief, Vice Chancellor Jeff Marsee, is on administrative leave after being advised last month that his contract would not be renewed.

A replacement could be hired by August.

In the meantime, some trustees said the chancellor needs an advisor.

"[Kimberling] is the best person at the present time, and his employment will be the most economic. It is extremely urgent to get someone aboard at the time," trustee Allan Jacob said.

Kimberling, now an accounting professor at Ventura College, already serves as a consultant on budget issues to other community college districts in the state.

"He clearly has the experience and I don't want to take this district off a cliff between now and August," said Westin, who took office in January.

In addition, Westin said, using Kimberling is about four times cheaper than bringing in and training a temporary assistant.

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