The existing leadership vacuum in the Building and Grounds department, long criticized for its failure to respond to repair requests in a timely manner, grew worse recently with the departure of two high profile administrators.
David Martin, acting vice chancellor of Finance and Administration, announced he is leaving City College for a job in another district. Martin declined to comment for this story, but Dianna Gonzales, vice chancellor of Human Resources, said Martin tendered his resignation the day before Thanksgiving and is leaving on Dec. 8.
Linda da Silva, associate vice chancellor of Facilities and Planning—who reported to Martin—has been on administrative leave since September, according to employees in her office. One employee said Martin sent a text message on Sept. 26 informing them that da Silva was “no longer with the college.”
The monthly Human Resources report presented to the board of trustees on Oct. 26 said da Silva is resigning effective at the end of the year. But da Silva has not returned to work, and her staff does not expect her back. Her entry in the online employee directory was removed over the Thanksgiving break.
The slow response to requests for building repairs has been an ongoing issue at City College with elevators and bathrooms out of commission across Ocean Campus for months at a time, and mold and rodent infestation eating away at several buildings. If both Martin and da Silva are absent, Building and Grounds employees would be left with no managerial oversight.
Those employees typically report to a superintendent, who reports to a director, who finally reports to the position da Silva is vacating. But the superintendent role has not been filled in recent memory, and the director position has remained vacant since the last director retired eight months ago. If all four levels of management are empty, on paper, at least, there would be no supervisors or managers between rank-and-file employees at the very bottom of the organizational chart and Chancellor Mark Rocha at the very top.
The reason for da Silva’s administrative leave has not been made public. City College Spokesperson Jeff Hamilton said Chancellor Rocha was unavailable for comment, and as a matter of policy they do not discuss personnel matters. When asked for a copy of da Silva’s resignation letter, Hamilton said he didn’t know if there was one, and indicated da Silva may have resigned verbally. Da Silva declined to comment for this story.
Gonzales would not comment on specific employees, but said administrative leave is a generic term. “We use it for any number of circumstances,” she said. “In the most general sense, the person is not here, but they are continuing in paid status.”
The Guardsman learned of da Silva’s absence last month when seeking her comment about broken water pipes and flooding in Batmale Hall. Facilities employees at the time could not say why she was gone or who was acting in her place.
Tom Temprano, member of the board of trustees, said he had not heard about da Silva being placed on administrative leave, but would not have expected to. “We have only one employee that reports to us: Chancellor Rocha,” he said. “One of the reasons we hired Chancellor Rocha was his experience building out a large administrative team…I remain confident in his ability to bring in a strong team.”
“Often with a new chancellor there’s a natural attrition, which is what I think we’re seeing here,” said Thea Selby, present of the board of trustees.
“Dr. Rocha and I, as well as the search firm, began actively recruiting a replacement for [Acting Vice Chancellor] David Martin when he tendered his resignation,” Gonzales said. “We are confident that the position will be filled no later than the beginning of the year, January.”
Replacing Martin requires hiring not just one, but two people. Before July, Martin was associate vice chancellor of Finance, reporting to Ron Gerhard, vice chancellor of Finance and Administration. When Gerhard resigned over the summer, Martin was named acting vice chancellor.
“Since July, [Martin] has been doing at least those two jobs—his original job, plus [Gerhard]’s job,” Gonzales said.
Combined with finding a replacement for da Silva, that makes three vice chancellor or associate vice chancellor positions that need to be filled.
“Being fully staffed will be a key factor in our goal to reach 32,000 FTES,” Gonzales said, referring to Chancellor Rocha’s vision to increase the number of full-time equivalent students at City College, following the drastic enrollment drop-off during the accreditation crisis in 2012.
“We have a number of vacancies throughout the district—administrative, faculty, and classified,” Gonzales said. “Filling those positions as quickly as possible with quality candidates is our top priority.”
The City College Journalism Department, in conjunction with Laney College’s Journalism Department, worked together for issue 8 of our newspapers to produce a unique collaborative issue. Inside this issue you will find articles written using cross reporting, where journalists from each department came together and developed their stories under a dual byline. If you would like to contact reporters about questions or comments in regards to collaborative articles, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.