Pasadena City College gets interim president in wake of campus discord

Pasadena City College gets interim president in wake of campus discord
Pasadena City College's board of trustees appointed Robert B. Miller to be the school's interim president. He succeeds Mark Rocha, who left the post last month. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Pasadena City College's board of trustees named Robert B. Miller, the school's vice president of business and college services, as its interim superintendent and president effective immediately, the college announced Thursday.

Miller, who has spent the bulk of his career at the college since graduating in 1976, has served as the college's associate dean of academic support and vice president of education services, among other roles. He earned his doctorate in public administration from the University of La Verne in May.


"There are many challenges and opportunities ahead, but with the help of students, faculty, staff, managers, the board of trustees and community members; the future of the college is indeed bright," Miller said in a statement.

Miller was appointed after Mark Rocha retired from the post last month. Rocha's four-year tenure was marked by discord with the school's faculty, which passed two no-confidence votes in his leadership. A third one was being considered before he announced his plans to step down.

As part of his retirement settlement, Rocha will get more than $400,000.

College officials initially denied that Rocha was receiving financial incentives as part of his departure, but school leaders agreed to pay him 18 months of salary and some of his potential legal fees, according to documents released last month. His annual salary was nearly $250,000.

During his time at Pasadena City College, some faculty and students criticized Rocha for his management style and for approving the cancellation of a winter session. Tensions at the 26,000-student school were so high that a team of advisors visited the campus and told the administration and faculty that they needed to "find a way to move forward."

In recent months, some trustees voiced support for Rocha, saying he had done a good job of leading the school during tough economic times, and they downplayed tensions between administrators and staff.

"There's always turmoil," Anthony Fellow, president of the board of trustees, said in a brief interview earlier this year.

During Rocha's tenure, full-time enrollment at the two-year college -- long considered one of the state's finest -- dropped by nearly 13%, according to state statistics. Enrollment in California community colleges fell by nearly 10% during the same period.

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

Times staff writer Jason Song contributed to this report.

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