After the Shouting

After the shouting and chanting and protests from students and others at last night’s CCSF Board of Trustees meeting, let me make a few things clear:

  • The CCSF Board of Trustees voted to bring a special trustee to the college.
  • Lots of faculty, classified staff, administrators, and students at the college support bringing a special trustee to the college.
  • SEIU 1021, our classified staff union, supports a special trustee.
  • AFT 2121, our faculty union, also officially supports it – even though AFT President Alisa Messer failed to say so during her comments last night.

I don’t pretend to speak for them all, but I think it’s safe to say that the supporters of bringing a special trustee to the college that I have talked to are anxious and hopeful. We are a little nervous to ask an outside person, with broad authority from the state, to come in and start helping make change at the college. A lot rests on who that person is and what kind of values he or she brings.

But we are hopeful because we recognize that the accrediting team identified several real weaknesses in the college’s decision-making processes and fiscal responsibility. Changes that make the college more efficient, more innovative, more responsive to our students, and more accountable to our community have been a long time coming. We’re talking about dramatic changes in the college’s culture. Internally, the college does not have the vision and will necessary to make all the changes we have to make by the March 15 deadline.

So, bringing the special trustee was the responsible thing to do, because otherwise the college wouldn’t remain accredited. A special trustee will provide an outside perspective, much like Interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher has done – fresh eyes that can point out where we are doing well and where we can improve. More importantly, the special trustee will have the authority to help push the college toward making the changes we must make.

I don’t know exactly what happens next, but I do know that the special trustee gives the college a better chance of remaining the great resource to our community that we’ve been for 75 years and to doing even more to serve our students in the future.

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