More questions than answers SOCCCD Separation Agreement of Chancellor Mathur

While my focus in Dec and Jan was on our city council recall election another major story was playing out in Mission Viejo that until now I did not address. I refer to the Separation Agreement between South Orange County Community College District, SOCCCD and its Chancellor Raghu Mathur.

The challenge for me is to be objective while acknowledging that I have been friends with both the Chancellor and  board president Don Wagner for many years. In fact I endorsed Don Wagner for Assembly in 2004 when he lost the Republican primary election to Chuck DeVore. I also participated in a SOCCCD Board Meeting a few years ago where I spoke in support of the Chancellor.
Thursday’s Register story by Jennifer Muir, and comments on the Mission Viejo Dispatch, raise questions that are not addressed or challenged.
For starters, why didn’t the Board simply allow Raghu to complete his service  if they were satisfied with his performance?

 Did he commit any crime?  He is accused of being “self-serving.” Let the Juice readers decide.

His performance presents a problem for the college board as I read comments from president Don Wagner as published in the January 26, 2010 Mission Viejo Dispatch where it reads:

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to take this opportunity publicly to thank Chancellor Mathur for his years of service to the district and its students. He has been tireless in his efforts in the Chancellor’s office and can take great pride in the many accomplishments listed in his email. We on the board are fortunate to have been able to work with him in pursuit of the district’s goals. We wish Chancellor Mathur all the best in his future professional endeavors.”

In fact I plan to make a Public Records request to obtain or view copies of Chancellor Mathur’s most recent annual performance evaluation(s) to see if the Board was satisfied or dissatisfied with his performance. Was he written up for any misconduct? In the private sector we maintain a file of employees to protect the firm should future threats of litigation arise.  What does his evaluation say?

In reading the Register account I have to question why Glenn Roquemore, president of Irvine Valley College, would invite a potential job applicant to participate in a meeting with the Chancellor in which a new dean’s position at Irvine Valley College  was being discussed. Her attendance with Board President Wagner and Chancellor Mathur presents a compromise to the hiring process. While I do not fault Professor Wendy Gabriella for seeking the post why did president Roquemore feel compelled to have her attend and at the same time relax the requirements of the post in this economic climate? It raises questions on the ethics of having her present when other potential applicants are not even aware of the position before it is even authorized or advertised by the Board.

It is sad to read the Chancellor’s comments in the May 21, 2009

letter to David Bugay, Ph.D, Vice Chancellor of Human Resources in which Chancellor Mathur alleges that the has been intimidated by President Wagner to “create the position and ensure the subsequent appointment of Professor Gabriella.” The letter to Vice Chancellor Bugay goes on to say that “He threatended me repeatedly with dismissal if I did not support his direction.”

If this is what Roy Bauer calls “self serving” I must question his motives in this feud.  From where I sit seeking an open hiring process, where a potential applicant does not get a leg up on others, is not self-serving.

Let me close by posing the question. If you are not happy with the chancellor, why not simply let his contract expire and mitigate the cost of separation?

What’s next? The SOCCCD will engage in a nationwide search and hire a replacement Chancellor resulting in double compensation and benefits for a full year that could have been avoided.

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