Chancellor Mark Rocha Resigns After Three Tumultuous Years

Dr. Russell Leong (far left), Karen Katsanes (front right) and Jack da Silva (back right) hold signs up outside of Conlan Hall on Ocean Campus where protesters gathered in the lobby on Nov. 26, 2019 to denounce City College's recent class cuts. Photo by Lisa Martin / The Guardsman
Dr. Russell Leong (far left), Karen Katsanes (front right) and Jack da Silva (back right) hold signs up outside of Conlan Hall on Ocean Campus where protesters gathered in the lobby on Nov. 26, 2019 to denounce City College’s recent class cuts. Archived photo by Lisa Martin / The Guardsman

By Meyer Gorelick

msggorelick@gmail.com

Chancellor Mark Rocha resigned on March 26 after almost three years as head of City College’s Administration.

After nearly three hours of closed session during the Board of Trustees meeting that night, Board President Shanell Williams reconvened to open session and shared the momentous news. Rocha will receive a $340,481 settlement, equivalent to one year’s salary, six months less than the 18 month cash payout stipulated in his contract with the district.

Part of the agreement is that he will also receive 12 months of health and welfare benefits, $24,476 in unused vacation pay as required by California law, and $11,000 in compensation for certain expenses not specified by Williams resulting from the separation. “Both parties release each other from any potential claims,” Williams said.

All seven trustees except Trustee Thea Selby voted to approve the agreement. Selby did not respond to a request for comment on why she voted no.

Senior Vice Chancellors Diana Gonzales, Tom Boegel and James Sohn will manage day-to-day operations until the Board names an interim chancellor. On March 27, the Board announced in a press release that they would immediately appoint a short-term interim chancellor to serve from April to June, while they launch a search for a long-term interim chancellor for the 2020-21 school year. 

The board will contract HSV Consulting, Inc. for help with the search, and will utilize surveys to obtain community input on their future decision. 

Rocha’s tenure has been controversial since his hiring in 2017, which was opposed by the faculty union AFT 2121 from the start. Several rounds of class cuts, including the removal of nearly 300 classes in November 2019, and a last-minute proposal for administrative raises  amidst these cuts, increased tensions between Rocha and the larger City College community.

“We want to thank Dr. Rocha for his leadership and contribution to the College over the past three years,” Williams said in a press release.