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Palomar board debates hiring diversity, presidents’ contract

Palomar’s Governing Board meeting on Dec. 11 featured discussions of future plans for the upcoming Spring semester and concerns regarding diversity amongst faculty.

The Board elected positions, where Mark Evilsizer was selected to be President, John Halcon as the Vice President, and Nancy Ann Hensch as Secretary. Joi Lin Blake was also elected as Secretary to the Board. New Governing Board Member Norma Miyamoto, a former dean at Palomar, was also sworn in during the meeting.

Request for a Campus Climate Survey

During public comment, Professor Lesley Blankenship-Williams addressed the governing board with concerns relating to campus climate. She delivered a lengthy report to the board members with research outlining comparable salaries for superintendents. Williams expressed concern about Superintendent/President Joi Lin Blake’s current salary. Williams also mentioned that the lifetime benefits that Blake receives should be reconsidered as well.

“I don’t know why we aren’t all trying to find out what the truth is,” Williams said of how employees feel about working at Palomar.

Williams stated that the survey will examine leadership styles, specifically the delegation of authority of the superintendent/president.

Faculty Diversity Concerns

Throughout the night, the topic of problems with faculty diversity was a consistent concern between both faculty and governing board members.

Professor Tracy Johnston addressed the board during public comment regarding these concerns by naming multiple “Governing Board violations” on Blake’s behalf. At the Dec. 3 Faculty Senate meeting, Johnson recalled Superintendent Blake’s remarks on how faculty members are hired. Johnson listed her concerns and how Blake’s actions violate Governing Board policy and also Faculty Senate guidelines.

Johnson stated that Blake claimed she examines the diversity of the applicant pool and the interview list when reviewing the finalists for a position. According to Johnson, Blake looks at the finalists to determine if the diversity of the applicant pool is similar to the diversity of the finalists.

“Dr. Blake made it clear that her choice for the candidate to hire will be influenced by her perception of candidates gender, race or ethnicity,” Johnson said.

Johnson continued addressing the board, claiming if this is the process that is utilized to hire faculty members, it violates Palomar board policy and state law.

In response to Johnson’s accusations, John Halcon, Vice President of the Board, said too many educational leaders stray away from being “bold” when it comes to hiring diverse faculty. Halcon called for improvement, saying that Palomar College has not improved in faculty diversity over the past five years.

“There has to be an intentionality in hiring and it has to be a considered effort,” Halcon said, “it has to be a considered effort, not one person can do this alone.”

Facilities Project receives another award

The new Maintenance and Operations building received another award for design. The award was a Citation Award in Technological Innovation at the Design and Philanthropy awards hosted in Los Angeles. This achievement marks the third award received on behalf of the design of the new building.

The Facilities Master Plan reveal new projects including an updated Student Services Building, Student Commons, and new Music and Arts facilities. There are also some new projects currently underway and being prepared to begin construction, including a new Athletics Complex.

 

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