Retiring PCC Superintendent-President Accepts Board’s Request to Stay Additional Year; Trustees Hit Reset Button on Replacement Search

Published : Sunday, May 6, 2018 | 7:46 PM

Dr. Rajen Vurdien seen in August, 2015, shortly after his arrival on the Pasadena City College campus.

Pasadena City College Superintendent-President Dr. Rajen Vurdien has agreed to delay his planned retirement for up to a year in light of the Board of Trustees’ unsuccessful efforts to find his replacement and their subsequent request that he stay on.

“Dr. Vurdien has graciously accepted our request to continue as superintendent and has postponed his retirement while the search continues,” confirmed Trustee James A. Osterling on Sunday.

The Board had called a special meeting on Friday morning after the two finalists in the recruitment process both withdrew. Trustees elected to negotiate a contract with Dr. Vurdien to stay on through the search for his successor, but no later than June 30, 2019.

The special meeting also reconsidered the vetting process and the timeline for the ongoing search after finalists Dr. Cliff Davis and Dr. Byron Breland pulled out of consideration within a few days of each other.

“While I am disappointed with the end result, it validates that our search was able to attract highly qualified candidates,” said Osterling.

Academic Senate President Valerie Foster said her organization, which represents the College’s faculty, and the indeed campus community as a whole, felt the selection process was flawed.

Foster said the Board’s search for a new Superintendent-President lacked transparency and ignored the input of faculty and students.

“The problem is that the President has to interact with the entire campus. And so the Board is technically his boss, but fundamentally, the President serves the college,” Foster said. “We should all have some voice to the process. I mean, there’s no dispute over that.”

Board Chair Anthony Fellows, apparently reacting to the Senate’s concerns, said Friday that it was “ time the Board reviews its search policies for Superintendent-President.”

The Board approved the creation of a Presidential Search Process Committee consisting of three members each of the Board of Trustees, tenured faculty, managers, and classified staff which will review, suggest changes to, or update the bylaws governing the executive search process.

The new Committee’s work is expected to be completed before the June 6 business meeting.

The Board also announced key dates to the new search timeline:

June 13 — Board approves the selection of executive search firm and job announcement
September 7 — Application packages due to the college
October 17 — Board of Trustees select candidates to interview
November 10 — Candidates interviewed and top two or three selected
December 10-11 — Finalists come to campus
December 19 — Selection of Superintendent-President

Trustees will meet next on Wednesday, May 23, at 6 p.m., in PCC’s Creveling Lounge.

Osterling said that “at the outset of the search, the board made a commitment to take the time necessary to recruit an outstanding superintendent that will lead Pasadena City College into our next century of excellence in education. We remain committed to that objective.”

The Board’s next meeting will be Wednesday, May 23, at 6 p.m., in PCC’s Creveling Lounge.

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