GCC faculty head quits

Roughly a month before a new superintendent takes the helm at Glendale Community College, the president of the Faculty Guild publicly announced her resignation on Monday, citing building tensions with trustees.

The announcement from Isabelle Saber at the board's monthly meeting came as the college continues to grapple with budget pressures that have clearly taken their toll on stakeholder groups.

"It was a result of several culminating factors and one of the last nails in this coffin happened at the board retreat a couple of weeks ago, when I decided that the level of discourse was below what I was willing to accept after a full year of bending over backwards to try and help the district," Saber said.

Standing before the trustees at the meeting, Saber said she hoped her successor would have a higher level of exchange with the board, as well as faculty and classified staff.

For her part, board President Ann Ransford reiterated past calls to support leaders of the various stakeholder groups "because you are the ones that put yourself out there on the line, and it is not easy."

"Even though we may not agree with all the decisions, we really need to support each other in those positions," she said.

College trustees and the faculty guild have bristled over reduced work hours for certain employees and class reductions that have added to already long student wait lists.

"This is the business we're in and we should not get hurt enough to resign," college Trustee Armine Hacopian said in response to Saber's resignation. "I regret that you felt so uncomfortable, Ms. Saber, that you had to resign."

Board member Vahé Peroomian thanked Saber for her leadership, adding that this year the board recognized structural changes needed to be made.

"I know when an agreement of this magnitude is passed, there will be those who suffer because of it and there will be those who gain, but hopefully we come to an agreement where a lot more gain has been achieved, especially for our students and especially for the perpetuation of our institution," Peroomian said.

Saber's resignation came after the board approved a three-year contract for David Viar, who will replace Jim Riggs as superintendent/president starting July 1.

Ransford commended Riggs for taking a hard look at the status quo during his interim tenure for changes that will benefit the campus in the long run.

"He came to our college and observed us with fresh eyes," Ransford said. "He has identified systems and structures that don't necessarily service our students or the future of our college and more importantly, and very bravely, he has shared those with all of us."

Viar's three-year contract, which ends June 30, 2016, includes a base salary of $240,000, expense allowances and health benefits.

As well as trying to strike a balance between the guild and the board, Viar will inherit the college's $1.3-million deficit as officials look at more ways to reduce costs among its discretionary accounts and healthcare plans.

Ransford urged the college to work with Viar to meet forthcoming challenges on campus.

"Our budget is at the forefront," Ransford said.

A campus-wide gathering for Riggs is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 6.


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