Faculty and staff know little about president’s possible departure

Several high-ranking Pierce College staff members were caught off-guard after an announcement last week that President Kathleen Burke is on the short list to take over El Camino Community College President Tom Fallo’s position after his retirement.

Among those who had not been apprised of Burke’s decision to seek the position was Dean of Academic Affairs Development Mary Anne Gavarra-Oh.

“[Burke] has her reasons for applying, but I don’t know them,” said Gavarra-Oh, who added that neither she nor her department were updated.

Donna-Mae Villanueva, Dean of Mathematics, Science, Business and Nursing, said she too was unaware of the situation until she read a brief published last week. She said none of her colleagues had mentioned anything about it.

Dean of Humanities and Social Science Barbara Anderson had a little bit more to say about this matter.

“To be honest, I was completely unaware of her applying for the El Camino presidency,” Anderson said. “It isn’t uncommon for top-level administrators to serve a campus for a time and then to move on to another campus.”

Anderson added that though Burke’s relatively long length of time in the position has served the college well, the appointment of a new campus president might bring its own advantages.

“The stability of a president who stays for a while, like President Burke has done, has been very beneficial,” Anderson said. “On the other hand, it can also benefit a campus to have fresh eyes to view campus issues and exposure to other excellent leaders in education. I greatly appreciate the good work that President Burke has done, but she is entitled to pursue professional opportunities.”

[Correction 9/29/15 11:42 p.m. This article incorrectly states that Barbara Anderson is the dean of Humanities and Social Science, a position she previously held. Anderson’s current title is Professor of Communication Studies.]