Search Begins for New Pasadena City College President-Superintendent

Board of Trustees selects executive search firm, will develop search committee

Published : Wednesday, November 22, 2017 | 6:40 AM

Dr. Rajen Vurdien

Dr. Rajen Vurdien

Plans are in place and a search firm has been selected for the process to replace retiring Pasadena City College President-Superintendent Dr. Rajen Vurdien, who led the college through the affirmation of its full accreditation status, the launch of the PCC Promise free-tuition program, and its selection as an Aspen Prize Top 10 Community College.

Vurdien recently announced that he will formally retire at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year, fulfilling his three-year contract.

Pasadena Now recently spoke with Pasadena Area Community College District 2 Trustee Jim Osterling about what the selection process for a new school chief executive entails. Osterling’s seat represents Altadena, Northeast Pasadena, and all of Sierra Madre.

The selection of the new chief executive is actually the most important task that the board of trustee has, as Osterling explained.

Pasadena Area Community College District 2 Trustee Jim Osterling

Pasadena Area Community College District 2 Trustee Jim Osterling

“The process is actually pretty well laid out in the board policies,” he said, “We approve and monitor the budget, and that’s important, and we also provide a strategic policy oversight to the superintendent, but really, the selection of the superintendent and how well we do that job is probably the single most important thing that we do.

“The job of the trustee is not to run the institution,” Osterling continued. “It’s to select a good superintendent, and then let that superintendent and his administration run the institution. So if we do a good job and we hire a great administrator, the results will be reflected in the college. So, our goal is to hire another excellent superintendent and candidly, we hope that we can have a long tenure.”

According to Osterling, PCC has done a “tremendous job of stabilizing relationships between students, faculties, staff, and trustees in all directions,” and the school was fortunate to have Vurdien come in at that time that he did.

“He did an outstanding job of dealing with some really important issues,” said Osterling, “and the ultimate proof is in the pudding when we were given the Aspen award for being one of the top 10 community colleges.”

Osterling stressed, however, that the board is hopeful that the next superintendent can serve a longer tenure.

“We think it takes a while for a superintendent to come on board and learn the institution, and put in place their policies and objectives and gain momentum, and can hit their stride, and then once they hit their stride, we’d like to see them stay on for a decent tenure.”

As Osterling detailed the process, it requires a lot of input from students, faculty, and administration.

According to Osterling, the Board recently selected a search company called Collaborative Brain Trust.

The board also hopes to have its new superintendent on board before Dr. Vurdien’s tenure ends on June 30th, 2018.

“We should be able to hit that end goal,” he said. “We have adequate time to conduct all steps of the process in orderly fashion and get done by that timeframe.”

According to Osterling, a new search committee must now be created, including students, faculty, administration, and members of the community. The search committee will be responsible for vetting through the first round of applicants.

The search firm will be charged with preparing a statement of qualifications for the superintendent, said Osterling, along with a list of the responsibilities.

“And we even will have community input on those important documents,” he said.

“We anticipate a really high number of applicants responding to the position opening,” said Osterling, “so the search committee, will narrow that down to a manageable number from which the board of trustees will the ultimately select the finalist.”

“This is an important position,” said Osterling. “It’s an educational institution, and the faculty, should have great input into this process because this is the person that will be leading the college and the faculty. It’s a highly participatory process as it should be.”

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