By Emily Margaretten
For the past ten years, City College has named ten chancellors as its own. Will the newly appointed chancellor, David Martin, direct the helm of City College for just a few years, like many of his predecessors, or will he stay the course and truly tackle the long-term financial problems and educational needs of the college?
Martin’s professional credentials certainly qualify him for the task. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Drexel University and, since 2019, has served as the president and superintendent at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), first in an interim capacity before the college selected him to fill the position permanently in January 2021. Martin’s familiarity with City College also is an asset. He served as chief financial officer for two years, from 2015 to 2017, and an additional six months as interim vice chancellor of finance and administration.
Although Martin’s tenure as chancellor at City College has not begun yet, it already seems more staid than previous appointments. There were no “red-flag” protests about his managerial style or ethical practices, as seen in the vocal opposition to Mark Rocha’s appointment as chancellor in 2017. Rocha’s leadership at City College ultimately proved too tumultuous for the college, and he resigned under pressure with paid administrative leave in March 2019.
There was no outcry over Martin’s salary either, which at $315,000 is less than what the board offered Interim Chancellor, Rajen Vurdien, whose annual salary was $340,000. The board faced immense public backlash last spring when it proposed to give Vurdien a 23.5% monthly bonus, a deal that many community members viewed as a slap in the face, considering that AFT 2121 recently had agreed to pay cuts of up to 14% to stave off faculty layoffs and class cancellations.
As an antidote to this turmoil, Martin’s approach, at least in public forums, is reassuring. In the Q&A at City College, he emphasized the necessity of transparency and working collaboratively with students, faculty, and staff. He addressed the need for more financial support from the state, including advocating for a more equitable student-funding formula. While mostly speaking in generalities, Martin mentioned the success of his “5-year Financial Plan” at MPC that met the approval of constituent groups and the Board of Trustees.
Martin’s reference to MPC’s 5-year Financial Plan, is welcome although more details are needed. And here is where some concerns arise. For, while Martin acknowledges the importance of public input, feedback loops, and the support of constituent groups, he is extremely difficult—at least for reporters—to track down. He did not respond to multiple requests for interviews by the Guardsman, a student-run newspaper that prides itself on covering the concerns and welfare of the college community.
The 5-year Financial Plan, which MPC posted to its website, also raises questions. The plan calls for an “instructional productivity of 14.5 (FTES/FTEF) by 2022-2023.” It explains that “productivity is calculated as the ratio of the number of students served by faculty through the following formula: Full-time Equivalent Students (FTES)/Full-time Equivalent Faculty (FTEF).”
Of note, the plan proposes a scheduled reduction of FTEF over a period of three years, from 405 FTEF in 2020-2021, to 395 FTEF in 2021-2022, to 385 FTEF in 2022-2023. Does this reduction of FTEF mean layoffs and class cancellations at MPC?
The plan also states that “the district will issue 8.25% salary increases for all employee groups between 2020-2021 and 2022-2023.” Are pay raises the concession that administrators, faculty, and staff made for FTEF reductions? At whose expense? It would be great to ask Martin these kinds of questions—if only he would respond to interview requests.
Finally, Martin’s short tenure as president and superintendent at MPC raises concerns about how long he plans to stay at City College. The Monterey County Weekly writes that, “Almost exactly one year ago on Oct. 23, the Monterey Peninsula College community was cheering the selection of David Martin as the permanent superintendent of the community college district and president of the college.” City College has good reason to cheer the arrival of Martin to its campus too. The question is for how long?