Starr A. Wilson
Dr. Rajen Vurdien is City College’s new interim Chancellor.
The new interim Chancellor has come on board for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, after the Board of Trustees recruited and approved his contract on June 23. Dr. Vurdien’s start date was July 1.
Dr. Vurdien retired in February 2019 as the Superintendent-President and Chief Executive Officer of Pasadena City College but came out of retirement to take on City College’s position.
In a public statement issued before Dr. Vurdien was approved, Board of Trustees President Shanell Williams said, “We selected Dr. Vurdien because he will bring his extensive experience, inclusive values, and positive professionalism to City College at a time of crisis and need.”
Dr. Vurdien has served over 30 years in the California Community College System, having held positions at Pasadena City College, Fullerton College, North Orange County Community College District, Saddleback College, South Orange County Community College District, Mission Viejo, and Long Beach City College.
Dr. Vurdien started as an English and French teacher in Mauritius, where he was born. From there, he held positions as a special advisor to the Minister of Education of Seychelles. In China, he served as a United Nations (UN) volunteer and a Program Coordinator for the UN Development Programs.
In the United States, Dr. Vurdien has taught from kindergarten to multi-level colleges, as well as directed graduate programs in education at Gwynedd Mercy University, PA, and coordinated the reading program at Long Island University, and Southampton College. At Southampton College, he was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor by his peers at Gwynedd Mercy College and was also an adjunct instructor at Montgomery County Community College during the same period.
Aside from being active in the teaching arena, Dr. Vurdien has also been active in local, state, and national educational levels. He was on the Executive Board of the Pasadena Bio-Science Foundation, trustee of the Buena Park City Library District, a mentor in the Association of California Community Colleges mentor program, and a member of the Professional Development Commission and the International Education Commission of the American Association of Community Colleges.
He is also a father of two, avid jogger, addicted crossword puzzle solver, and senior chess player.
Upon being approved at the June 24 Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Vurdien said, “It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege to be given this opportunity to lead one of the premier institutions of higher learning in California. I am looking forward to working with the students, faculty, staff, management, and the Board to create a positive learning environment so that we can better serve the community.”
In a Special Board of Trustees’ meeting held July 1, Dr. Vurdien added, “I am an immigrant as are many who go to and work at CCSF. My story is an inspiration to City College. I want them to hear and understand that education can transform you.”
Dr. Vurdien continued, saying that community colleges are mainly an American product, where students are allowed to succeed, and more than 70% of college graduates have gone through city colleges.
President Williams added, “We are fortunate to have him as our leader.”
However, with only a one-year appointment, there are varied opinions as to whether Dr. Vurdien will be able to fix the college’s fiscal crisis that has led to severe class cuts and job losses by the college’s part-time faculty.
Dr. Vurdien replaces short-term Interim Chancellor Dianna Gonzales, who accepted the position in April, replacing former Chancellor Mark Rocha who reportedly resigned in March for personal reasons.
Meanwhile, the board will continue its nationwide search for a permanent chancellor to start by July 2021.