School President Resigns

Jessica Bourse

A surprise announcement May 4 by Vahe Peroomian, president of the board of trustees, brought an end to the controversial presidency of Audre Levy, who had led the campus for three years following the retirement of John Davitt, who had popularly served the campus for 21 years.

“As President of the Board of Trustees, I have accepted the resignation of Superintendent/President Dr. Audre Levy effective June 30, 2009,” said Peroomian, in the statement.

In the three years of Levy’s service to the school – she started July 1, 2006 – there has been a tense relationship between the president and the faculty.

“I think the part about the Davitt years that we [the faculty] still respect,” said Gordon Alexandre, president of the Glendale College Guild, “are things that should be respected in any administrative situation..You need to respect the employees. You need to respect governance, our history and culture. You need to be democratic in how you approach solving problems.

“Part of Dr. Levy’s presence here that was a problem for many of us [faculty] is not that we were nostalgic for the past; it’s not that we even had a difficult time adjusting to a new president. It’s the thing that should exist in any relationship – past, present or future – didn’t exist in this one.”

Levy declined to speak with El Vaquero, but she released a statement to the college on May 5 in which she said she wasn’t leaving because of strained relationships between herself and the faculty.

“Simply, I am choosing to move closer to my family and pursue other career opportunities,” said Levy, in her statement.

“I think it’s probably a good thing for her,” said John Queen, president of the Academic Senate. “She’s moving to the Houston area where she has relatives and she got a new job, so that sounds like good news for her.”

The board of trustees has already begun the process to look for Levy’s replacement.
There will be an open comment and hearing period during Monday’s board meeting where the public will have the opportunity to voice opinion on where to go next.

Peroomian said the board will have a full search for the college’s next president. They will advertise the open position, acquire applications and go through the interview process to permanently fill Levy’s soon-to-be-empty position.

“We’re looking for someone to bridge the gap,” said Peroomian.

“In the interim, we’re looking for someone to guide us through a critical accreditation – that’s the most important thing we have on the plate right now,” said Peroomian. “We have a serious fiscal situation and we’re facing accreditation at the same time and we need someone qualified to tackle those during the maximum two years they would interim.”

According to Queen, community college leadership in California has had an “incredible amount of turnover” among top administrators.

“The [accrediting board] is used to that,” said Queen. “[However,] if you aren’t timely in making replacements, I think they’ll have concerns with that.”

“The accrediting board will look to us and see we’re making changes and moving in a more collaborative and collegial direction,” said Alexandre, “and seeing if more of our energy is used on teaching and less on politics. Unfortunately, it’s been more about politics that last couple of years.. I think the future actually bodes well, so I think it’s better that she not be here during the accreditation site visit next year.”

The Academic Senate took a position on May 7 and said it would like to see an interim of at least one academic year before hiring a new president, said Queen. The senate also said it would prefer to see an interim come from within the college.

“Somebody who is familiar with us so we wouldn’t have any disruptions in this accreditation year,” said Queen. “Somebody who understands the college, the faculty and staff, so we can have a smooth transition for that one-year period.”