Down To 3: College Hopes To Seat a New Chancellor by Oct. 1

By JohnTaylor Wildfeuer


On Oct. 1, a new Chancellor will be seated. The screening committee has narrowed the finalists to three candidates, each of whom are participating in forums via Zoom.


August 24 3:30-4:30pm

Dr. David Martin


August 25, 3:30-4:30pm

Dr. Kristina Whalen


August 26, 3:30-4:30pm

Dr. Christopher Villa


Candidates will be presented with identical questions and an opportunity for direct feedback will be provided to attendees by way of a survey.

For years, finding a chancellor who will stay and lead has been a focal point for the college. Members of the college community are seeking a chancellor who will provide consistent leadership.

Since 2011, City College has had more than half a dozen leaders. Analysis by the Guardsman found that chancellorship of the college has changed hands nine times in the last decade.

Don Griffin, Pamela Fisher, Thelma Scott Skillman, Art Tyler, Susan Lamb, Mark Rocha, Deputy Chancellor Dianna Gonzalez and Rajen Vurdien all served for a few months to a couple years. Gonzalez, who presently serves as interim chancellor, has served in the role for two stints. 

Once it appoints its next chancellor on Oct. 1, City College will have changed leadership in the role of Chancellor ten times in the last decade, twice under current interim Chancellor Dianna Gonzalez.
Infographic by JohnTaylor Wildfeuer/The Guardsman.

The usual tenure length for a community college chancellor in California is 5.2 years, according to a 2018 study by the Community College League of California.

After Rocha resigned under unclear circumstances in March 2020, Rajen Vurdien, who had followed Rocha as President of Pasadena City College, took over as the college’s chancellor in July 2020 for a year-long contract. The college declined to extend it.


Farewell, Dr. Vurdien


With Dr. Rajen Vurdien’s year as Interim Chancellor concluded, City College and the community it serves prepare to enter new territory as they navigate complex spending plans and explore potential futures.

In his closing remarks, outgoing Interim Chancellor Vurdien said, “[City College] is a very creative institution, people have plenty of ideas, people create new programs, people work with students … these are places where the community demands a lot of the college,” and added, “very often, the college cannot deliver.”

Closing with well wishes and optimism that a “united front with a unified request for funding” might yield more support from city and state officials, Dr. Vurdien re-entered retirement with a promise to show up as a commentator at future meetings of the Board of Trustees.


Looking Ahead


In public comment on the chancellor search in the special Board of Trustees meeting on Jun. 22, music instructor Harry Bernstein said, “The [interim chancellor] should be capable of independent thought. The academic senate had a vote of no confidence in the budget process. Whoever you choose should be wary of the budget process and make sure they get adequate information.”

Many have expressed a desire for consistent leadership of City College, which has changed hands ten times in the last decade, passing twice under the interim leadership of current Chancellor Dianna Gonzalez.

Board President Shanell Williams said of the appointment, “We feel strongly that Interim Chancellor Gonzales can provide the transitional leadership and continuity for City College … as we continue the process of selecting our next permanent Chancellor.” 


The Next Step


Attendees of upcoming Chancellor Candidate Forums will have the opportunity to contribute directly to the selection process by registering their opinions and impressions directly to the Board of Trustees through surveys distributed during the Aug. 24, 25, and 26 Forums, each of which will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to end at 4:30 p.m. each day.

The Guardsman