Experienced Interim Chancellor Guides City College During Pandemic, Budget Crisis

Dr. Rajen Vurdien is serving as interim chancellor of City College of San Francisco. Image courtesy of Pasadena City College

INGLESIDE, San Francisco — The City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees appointed Rajen Vurdien to a one-year chancellorship while the cash-strapped institution conducts a search for a permanent chancellor.

At its June 25 meeting, the trustees officially appointed Vurdien interim chancellor beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2021. His salary is $340,000, according to the contract.

Vurdien stated in a news release that while he has many tasks ahead, his primary goal is “to lead a transparent administration.”

Vurdien leads the college as it grapples with a multimillion dollar deficit and prepares to offer the vast majority of its classes online in fall due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We look forward to Dr. Vurdien bringing his extensive expertise, inclusive values, and positive professionalism to City College at this time of crisis and need,” Board of Trustees President Shanell Williams stated in a news release.

Vurdien’s appointment follows the March resignation of Mark Rocha, who vacated the chancellorship for a $340,000 settlement after the college’s Board of Trustees abruptly placed him on administrative leave.

This is the second time Vurdien helmed a community college after Rocha departed. In 2015, Vurdien took over as superintendent-president at Pasadena City College after Rocha stepped down the previous year amid faculty votes of no confidence.

Dianna Gonzales, who served as the college’s acting chancellor while search for Rocha’s replacement was conducted, returned to her position as vice chancellor of Student and Administrative Affairs.

The search for the interim chancellor was expedited and extensive, Williams stated. 

Input began with a survey that received 556 responses from employees and student leaders to provide initial guidance for the search. It was led by a search committee comprising 13 administrator, faculty, staff and student representatives working with the support of Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources Clara Starr, according to Williams.

Adele Failes-Carpenter, the faculty union AFT 2121’s representative on the hiring committee for Vurdien, stated that Vurdien “stands out as someone with a high regard for transparency and a strong record of having worked meaningfully with campus constituencies to navigate challenging circumstances — skills and experience that will benefit CCSF during this period.”

The interim chancellor has more than 30 years of cumulative experience as a teacher and an administrator. He’s proficient in Mandarin, French, Creole and Tamil, and has working knowledge of Spanish, Latin and Greek, according to the college.

“While we hope this appointment indicates a positive step for our college, we also cannot relax,” AFT 2121 stated in a newsletter release. “We invite Dr. Vurdien to work with us in good faith. We look forward to forging a transparent and collaborative relationship that can begin to repair years of damage by rogue administrations, face current difficulties, and restore the keep the community in community college values of our mission.”

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