Thursday, December 28, 2006

SMC Re-arranges Deck Chairs on the Titanic

A simple peek at Santa Monica College's Administration webpage reveals that there has been quite a mass exodus of administrative positions at the college. Starting with the SMC Board of Trustees, we've seen the departure of Carole L. Currey, Dr. Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, and Herb Roney. New to the Board is retired judge David B. Finkel, who has taught political science at SMC, focusing on Constitutional law, an area that SMC is in much need of understanding and compliance. Also new to the Board are Louise Jaffe and Andrew Walzer. Listening to the thoughtful questions and concerns of these three new board members, I am hopeful that SMC is moving forward in the right direction to solve its numerous problems.

SMC's Senior Administrative Staff has also seen some adjustments. David Muller (husband of AET Dean Katharine Muller), Associate Vice-President of Facilities has vanished. For the last decade, the college has provided not a single photo or bio on Mr. Muller, questioning what exactly he did for the college. According to a confidential source, former SMC President Piedad Robertson hired both Mullers as part of a package deal when she first took office. Prior to his position of VP of Facilities, David Muller received $7566 per month as a Facilities Management Consultant. According to the SMC Board of Trustees minutes for July 6, 1998, "Mr. Muller is needed in order to complete projects in the facilities area during the recruitment period for the Associate Vice-President, Facilities created by the management reorganization." Somehow, as a consultant, he succeeded in recruiting himself for the VP position.

Also gone from the SMC administrative roster is Vice-President of Planning and Development, Robert Sammis. On or about November 2006, Marvin Martinez eased into this position. There was complete secrecy governing Sammis' departure from SMC. According to confidential sources, Sammis' was quietly "released from his duties" at SMC. Sammis also served as inside legal counsel as well as chief negotiator in faculty contract disputes. Both the Classified Senate and the SMC Faculty Association constantly criticized Sammis for allegedly unfair labor practices and were pleased with his dismissal from the college. Sammis also had a history of stonewalling compliance with the California Public Records Act.

Robert Sammis living it up Piedad Robertson and Don Girard
From left to right: Robert Sammis Living it Up; Piedad Robertson and Don Girard

Both the Vice-President of Human Resources and Vice-President of Business/Administration positions are vacant. Jeff Shimizu is listed as the Vice-President of Academic Affairs. Two new administrative positions have emerged. Teresita Rodriguez has been appointed Vice President of Enrollment Development in an effort to fix SMC's ongoing enrollment problems. According to the college, it is having difficulty both retaining its students and recruiting new ones.

Don Girard, SMC's marketing director, and a man who has been cited for his well-versed knowledge in the college's politics, has moved into a very questionable administrative position. Previously, he had been listed as Executive Assistant to the President and was a founding member of the SMC Foundation President's Circle. Girard also had a hand in preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the troubled Bundy campus. Now, Girard is listed as Senior Director of Government Relations and Institutional Communication. Precisely what government relations are needed and how institutional communication will be improved is not described, as SMC's webpage simply has no information on Girard's new position. Will SMC provide this information or will Girard's more expensive administrative position remain a mystery as David Muller's had been in the past? Is SMC merely re-arranging deck chairs on its institutional Titanic or will these new positions actual serve to benefit the SMC community? Only time will tell.

-- Des Manttari,
Editor-in-Chief,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


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