Board of Trustees Grapple with Buyout and Budget Shortfalls

Corinna Scott

Tensions between faculty and the board arose during the long-running May 18 board of trustees meeting regarding Audre Levy’s replacement and resignation as well as her buyout.

Gordon Alexandre spoke of a letter on the subject of the buyout worth more than $300,000, which he cosigned along with more than 100 instructors.

“Most recently you bought out Dr. Audre Levy of her fourth year to the tune of over $300,000 and this is the elephant in the closet, so let’s get it out. The faculty is very upset about this kind of spending especially after hearing Patrick McCallum’s reports which we all just heard,” said Alexandre, president of the Glendale faculty guild.

He said 15 months ago the faculty advised the board not to offer Levy a fourth year and that the board hadn’t heeded their advice.

Vahe Peroomian, president of the board, responded to those statements.

“Had we bought Dr. Levy off 15 or 18 months ago, as you requested, it would have cost us exactly the same thing, not a penny less,” he said. ” I really appreciate the guild’s input into our processes but let me point out that I approached you nearly more than a week ago or close to a week ago asking for faculty input into this process and I was told that this was not a long enough time frame for you to do that,” said Peroomian.

“Yet today I received this letter which reiterates some of the things you just said basically blaming us for half-known truths at best signed by faculty members. This was clearly circulated and sent to the board. We saw this letter before it was circulated so we know it was out there. And the effort that went into this would have very easily gone into bringing faculty members here to give us the requested input into this process.”

Steve Marsden, faculty guild chief negotiator and math professor had this to say about the letter:

“We would have preferred not to have signed the this point though we have a lot better things to do than fight.”

“We’ve gotta come together folks. Now as far as the letters go they could have been presented a lot differently than they were. That was an option that we had and I hope that we can come together because if not we will tear this place apart fighting each other. Keep the focus on the students, what is best and let’s look forward.”

Richard Kamei, social science instructor, paraphrased Friedrich Hegel’s quote, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

“Today I’m hoping that we learn from history.A key problem is we (the faculty) don’t have input or enough input in this participatory process and that’s what we’re asking for as a faculty,” he said.

“I’m talking about the $300,000 buyout where the faculty had no input and I think that if we had input we would have been much more willing to work together.”

Peroomian responded by saying the buyout would have been exactly the same price. At this point, the two of them were trying to talk over each other.

Then Kamei said “I’m saying the cost. is irrelevant. It’s the matter of including the faculty in the process. It’s as simple as that. That’s all I’m asking for (when you go into closed session).” And with that he closed the issue.

Patrick McCallum, the college’s legislative advocate had an update on the situation in Sacramento.

“The trustees, the management, the faculty and the students are [going to] have to get together, try to spend at least an hour a week to turn this situation around,” said McCallum. He said the governor proposed a $940 million cut to community colleges.

“That’s a $9 million cut to Glendale College.”

He made an illustration of what this loss would mean to the college if lawmakers back Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed cut.

“That’s removing 55 to 60 percent of the disabled program. That is wiping out all of the basic skills funding. It is eliminating everything we do in matriculation success. It would remove [some of the funding] for those high-cost courses like allied health and nursing that are so important.”

He said the way the governor is proposing there would be classrooms, but very little to support what’s in those classrooms.
Also at the meeting, several faculty members were awarded tenure, which will be in effect in the fall:

David Attyah, Osmand Steven Bie, Jayne Campbell, Nancy Getty, Ira Paul Heffler, Philip Kazanjian, Dana Lea Marterella, Brian Joseph McDonald, Deborah Virginia Robiglio, Charlotte Schulten, Mohammad Taghdis and Fabiola Jones.

The next board of trustees meeting will be held in San Rafael in Kreider Hall June 15 at 5 p.m.