Chancellor’s Appointment Raises Questions About Conflicts of Interest

By Tyler Breisacher

Staff Writer

The selection of Dianna Gonzales as interim chancellor has raised new questions within the college community about the position of her son, Dean of Student Affairs Noah Lystrup.

Lystrup was first hired in 2015 as a Bridge to Success Coordinator, connecting SFUSD students with CCSF classes. In July 2019, he became the interim Dean of Student Engagement, at which point he was indirectly working for Gonzales, who was Senior Vice Chancellor for Administrative and Student Affairs at the time.

City College spokesperson Rachel Howard said the college has consistently followed the practices outlined in San Francisco’s policy on family relationships. The policy prohibits any city employee from being the direct supervisor of a member of their family, but allows indirect supervision as long as it is reported so that a management plan can be developed.

Two questions about this potential conflict of interest were submitted at the Board of Trustees’ virtual town hall on April 7, including one from student activist Vick Chung. Board President Shannell Williams assured the attendees that “Chancellor Gonzales was not involved in the hiring of Dean Lystrup, and Dean Lystrup will not have any involvement in the appointment or selection of a new long-term Interim or permanent Chancellor.”

She also mentioned City College’s official policy on family and romantic relationships, which is similar to the City of San Francisco’s policy. The college policy has been approved by the Participatory Governance Council and “will come before the Board of Trustees for official approval in May or June,” according to Howard.

Former president of Associated Students Evans Campus Brenna Stroud said the influence on hiring decisions is not the only concern. Lystrup’s involvement with the Associated Student Council gives him influence over that organization, which can create a “muting of the student voice” even apart from the hiring process for the position of Chancellor.

“When the state implements changes at colleges, they look for input from the students. That happens through the Associated Students — they are the state recognized voice of the students,” she said. “By having Noah in his current position (whether he knows it or not) is currently keeping the Associated Students quiet and allows for admin to more easily implement their downsizing policies.”

Associated Students Ocean President Angelica Campos acknowledged the potential conflict of interest, but said Lystrup’s work with Associated Students did not raise any immediate concerns.

“Personally, I haven’t seen anything suspicious in my time working with him,” she said. “I’ve known him to be a great ally to students and more than willing to jump in and help students when they need the support.”

Environmental Horticulture & Floristry Department Chair Steven Brown said this situation had been discussed in a number of meetings. He pointed out that Lystrup’s hiring was unusual, in that it seemed to happen without the usual processes for hiring someone to his position. He added that appointments like this were somewhat common under former chancellor Mark Rocha. Brown said he’d raised this issue with Gonzales, and was hopeful that she would follow official processes more closely, to ensure that faculty, students, staff, and administrators, all get a say in major decisions affecting City College.

Lystrup did not respond to a request for comment, and Gonzales declined to comment, referring to the statements by Howard and Williams.

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