By Joe Fitzgerald
Dr. Pamila Fisher, a retired educator and college chancellor, was appointed interim chancellor of City College in the wake of Dr. Don Q. Griffin’s early retirement.
City College’s Board of Trustees met in a special closed session on Sunday, April 29, and voted to approve hiring Fisher. She was one of seven applicants, of which the board interviewed only two. Her first day on the job is May 2.
The administration sent out a campus-wide email the day after the vote, quoting the new interim chancellor.
“I look forward to joining the excellent students, faculty, classified staff, and administrators at City College of San Francisco,” Fisher said. She could not be reached for further comment.
Trustee Steve Ngo described her as “strikingly energetic,” saying her confidence was tangible and infectious. It’s exactly what they need in the current fiscal crisis, Ngo said, because the school has already cut the budget to the bone, and hard choices face the college.
“We’re facing a loss of $16 million from the state next year, possibly $26 million…we need to find some solutions,” Ngo said. He expressed total confidence that Fisher was up to the task.
“She likes to get things done,” he said.
A recording of the special meeting revealed the details of her contract with the school. Fisher agreed to take a six percent cut from her offered salary. She will be paid a pro-rated monthly salary based on a total yearly salary of $276,000.
College Counsel Scott Dickey said at the meeting that Fisher pointed out that she took the pay cut in the hopes that the rest of the college would follow her lead.
Chancellor Griffin’s salary was $299,285, according to a publicly released City College document.
Fisher will also receive allowances for housing and a rental car while she is in San Francisco.
One part of her contract raised the eyebrows of one of the few members of the public in attendance of the nearly ten minute long open meeting, held directly after the board deliberated in the closed session.
Fisher’s negotiated contract allows for one flight home a month, at the college’s expense. Classified staff member Steve Kegg said, “I was just wondering, how far [away does she live]?”
“She lives in Bozeman, Montana,” Board President John Rizzo said.
It was also revealed at the meeting that she will be paid no benefits, such as health or dental.
Fisher has a long and varied career in education, according to the email sent out by the college to the college community. She served as Chancellor of the Yosemite Community College District from 1992 to 2004, and started as an instructor there in 1974.
Shortly after Fisher was voted in, a link to a news article at www.capolicycenter.org began circulating among the college community, detailing how faculty at both colleges in the Yosemite district she led, Modesto Junior College and Columbia College, voted “no confidence” in Fisher as chancellor.
According to the article, they were fired up that she received a 13 percent raise when the faculty got a raise of only three percent.
In response to the vote, Fisher said at the time, “the board is supporting me and i’m not leaving.”
The Guardsman was unable to reach any of the Board of Trustees before going to print a day after the vote, but City College Academic Senate President Karen Saginor said that the incident was not worth paying attention to.
“It was back in 1997, and that’s old news. People can change… she’s got good experience and comes well recommended,” Saginor said.
The recommendations come from many places. According to the email sent by the college, Fisher has more awards than the space of this article on the page allows the printing of. Most of them detail her advocacy in education, as well as her work on behalf of women leaders.
Fisher recently spoke at Hartnell Community College in Salinas as a consultant, advising the Hartnell Board of Trustees on the importance of the appearance of unity and working in the best interest of the public.
It’s an issue the our own board has struggled with.
City College and its Board of Trustees have weathered negative press coverage over the past several years, from embezzlement charges against former administrators to questions about the attendance records of trustees, as well as a network security breach that received national attention.
Fisher told the Hartnell board that they do not need to agree with each other all of the time… urging them to focus on the future, not the past.