City College chancellor to stay for another year

Don Q. Grifin


By Brant Ozanich
The Guardsman

Chancellor Don Griffin dismissed rumors of his retirement from City College May 16, citing the state’s budget crisis and an $18 to $20 million budget gap as the key reasons he might extend his term another year.

Griffin was hired at City College as an instructor in 1969 and has since served as a department chair, dean of instruction, vice chancellor of student development and vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Due to the increasing amount of cuts state community colleges are facing, as well as an accreditation process and the possibility of a parcel tax in coming years, Griffin thought he was needed for another year.

“It’s all about seeing if we can get through this period as well as select a new chancellor,” he said. “The most I would be seeking is an extension on the contract, maybe an additional year. Either I would get just that one year, or I would ask for an additional year.”

While his three and a half year term does not officially end until June 30, 2012, the search for a new chancellor usually takes ten to twelve months, so the decision must be made long ahead of time.

When asked where a new chancellor could potentially come from, he said he couldn’t answer for the board.

“I think there’s a tendency to go outside and inside under certain circumstances. If you’re looking for a lot of change, you’re going to look for a change agent who’s outside. If you’re looking for stability and continuity, you’ll look inside,” he said.

Griffin at City College

Griffin’s career at City College began after he was suspended from his assistant professor position at SF State for being arrested while participating in a rally calling for more students of color at the school.

City College offered him a position as an instructor on the condition that he be acquitted, which he was shortly after the incident.

“I was very lucky. I was acquitted of the charges, and otherwise I would not be sitting here,” Griffin said.

During his time as an instructor, Griffin worked part-time as a clinical psychologist in the community as well as with Veteran Affairs, primarily helping Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, brain trauma, depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

His schooling involves a bachelors and a doctorate in psychology from U.C. Berkeley and an masters in psychology from SF State, specializing primarily in clinical psychology.

“I think my orientation is primarily that of a psychologist when I look at this work, so I’m more focused on people and transactions among people,” Griffin said. “You are definitely influenced by what you’ve studied for so many years.”

Griffin hasn’t always lived in the Bay Area. He was born in Texas and raised in a segregated community in Oklahoma in the 40s before moving to Pasadena at age eight, which was a bit of a culture shock, he said.

Shortly thereafter, he and his family — including 12 full siblings and six half-siblings, moved to Lemoore, Calif., a rural town in the San Joaquin Valley where he finished high school before leaving to attend U.C. Berkeley at age 17.


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