By Abraham Davis
The City College board of trustees voted unanimously at their closed session on June 28 to extend Chancellor Mark Rocha’s contract until June 30, 2022. Rocha was originally hired by City College under a three-year contract that ran from 2017 to 2020.
“Thanks to the support of the Board and a great faculty, staff and administrative team, we have created a healthy campus climate for working together collegially to plan the future of City College,” Rocha stated in a press release. “I love the job, my colleagues and the city. I’m deeply grateful to the board for providing me with the opportunity to serve the college for the next four years.”
In the last year under Rocha, City College’s student enrollment has increased, and the college’s facilities department created a Facilities Master Plan draft that would build the long-awaited Performing Arts Education Center and the STEM center on Ocean Campus.
At the same meeting, the board approved a 2018 to 2019 tentative budget, which the press release called a product of a transparent process that included all college constituent groups. Moreover, the college established a 3-year bargaining agreement with the faculty union, the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121.
“Under Chancellor Rocha’s leadership, City College has made great progress toward the Board’s major goals,” board president Brigitte Davila stated in the release. “We want Dr. Rocha to stay to continue the work of creating a sustainable future for City College for the 21st century.”
Rocha’s hiring by City College in 2017 was met with controversy and protested by AFT 2121.
“[Rocha’s] record makes it clear that he stirs up trouble wherever he goes, and is no friend to students, faculty or staff,” a June 22 AFT 2121 release stated last year.
Many were concerned that in 2013, Pasadena City College’s faculty leaders expressed votes in no confidence against Rocha.
During Rocha’s hiring former Trustee Rafael Mandelman cast the lone dissenting vote against Rocha’s appointment. He called Rocha a risky choice in June’s meeting, according to a June 24 Guardsman article last year.
After watching Rocha perform as the college chancellor for a year, Mandelman, now the District 8 Supervisor, said he has been satisfied with his performance.
“I think he has brought peace and a degree of calm to an institution that very much needed those things,” Mandelman said. “I think he was good at working with the board, which was always a challenge for community college presidents and chancellors.”
Music department Chair Madeline Mueller has mixed feelings about Rocha.
“I am happy with the music area,” Mueller said. “They announced they would be back on track for the [Performing Arts Education Center].”
Mueller does believe that Rocha still needs to prove himself. “I am on the [facilities] committee, and we still haven’t met all summer, which is problematic. There is still the issue of the reservoir.”
She also expressed how chaotic this semester has been with class cuts due to the budget.
“I have been here 50 years, and I’ve never seen so many preemptive cuts,” Mueller said. “Faculty got a raise, but it is now so expensive that we must have fewer faculty and bigger classes.”