Who needs a chancellor? Not us
April 4, 2003
The last thing the Kern Community College District needs is a new chancellor.
As many faculty and staff have pointed out in the weeks since Dr. Walter Packard announced that he will step down as chancellor in May to accept a job at a community college in Illinois, his departure leaves us with the perfect opportunity to sit down and seriously re-evaluate how this district works.
A March 25 story in The Bakersfield Californian told of how the Board of Trustees is seeking to appoint an interim chancellor for up to a year. But given the gravity of the current budget crisis, wouldn’t it make more sense to leave the position vacant for now?
According to Pam Whitley, an educational services assistant at the district office, the chancellor earns an annual salary of $162,233, with a monthly car allowance of $700. If the position were left unfilled during the search for a permanent replacement, the district could funnel that money into programs such as counseling and EOP&S that run the risk of being cut, easing the pain felt by students.
But the Board of Trustees also should give serious consideration to other options, like eliminating the chancellor’s position altogether. In doing so, the board could take the first step toward streamlining the district’s operations and, as faculty union President Steve Eso put it in a March 12 Californian story, “the dismantlement of the inefficient district bureaucracy and closing of the district office.”
We don’t need a chancellor. What we need is to keep our options open and examine them to determine which ones will benefit students the most. The Kern Community College District is an institution that exists to provide accessible, affordable education to students. If we suffer undue hardship because of the trustees’ failure to do what is in our best interests, then the district will have failed in its mission.