Glendale Community College trustees opt for interim president

Glendale Community College trustees on Wednesday began the job of finding a permanent successor to outgoing President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay, deciding to hire an interim replacement while the search is carried out.

College Board of Trustees President Armine Hacopian said that she has not set a date for naming the interim replacement, but added that she wants it to happen “as soon as possible.”

Trustees also voted to bar the interim president from applying for the permanent job, a departure from past practice. Lindsay served as interim president during the 2009-10 school year before she was offered a permanent contract.

Lindsay announced last month she would leave her post to accept the top job at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md. Her resignation is effective on July 14.

Her departure comes amid an unprecedented budget crisis. Glendale Community College has lost about $8 million in funding in the last year, with another $3.5 million riding on Gov. Jerry Brown's November tax initiative.

Addressing faculty and classified staff representatives Wednesday, college trustee Tony Tartaglia acknowledged the anxiety simmering on campus.

“I hear a lot of trepidation,” Tartaglia said. “That trepidation, and that cautioness, and that uneasiness, was there way before Dr. Lindsay indicated that she was going to resign. This just adds to the situation.”

Donna Voogt, dean of human resources, said she has spent recent weeks meeting with stakeholders and gathering feedback on what they would like to see in both the interim and permanent presidents.

Included in those discussions were questions about whether the college should be looking at internal or external candidates, and whether the interim president should have the right to apply for the permanent job.

“During this process we want to make sure we preserve the quality of the pool for the permanent position,” Voogt said. “It was felt pretty widely among all the groups that if an interim is allowed to apply for the permanent position, it will discourage other qualified applicants from applying. They will perceive the person to have a leg up, or the inside track.”

Voogt noted that baring the interim president from applying for the permanent position could cause problems as well because not everyone would be interested in a temporary assignment. Somebody like a retired college administrator might be a good fit, she noted.

Trustees emphasized that they will be looking for an interim who is a great communicator and respectful of the college's governance structure.

“I think we made a mistake in not hiring an interim after Dr. Davitt left, and we saw the consequences of that,” said trustee Vahe Peroomian, referring to the controversial leadership of former President Audre Levy. “I think it is important when a much-loved president leaves our college that we allow all of us that time of transition.”

They are not looking to bring in someone to “slash and burn,” Peroomian added.

“We are not looking for someone to clean house, we are looking for someone to keep the ship steady,” he said.

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