New VP hired amid controversy

Linh Nguyen

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This fall semester SJCC welcomes Tammeil Gilkerson as the new interim vice president of Academic Affair, whose base salary starts at $135,164, while some staff and students dispute the purported benefits of the position.

In 2004 two vice president positions opened, after receiving a request from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College that San Jose City College needed an administrative structure.

Some staff and students believe, however, the situation has changed.

“In good times (plenty of money) three VPs may not have been a problem.  Now that we are chopping everything in sight, including journalism, we need to scale back executive positions. I am not at all certain we need a President, perhaps one VP reporting to chancellor,” wrote Philip Crawford, Emeritus Adjunct of Administration of Justice in an email.

In this period of budget cuts, canceled classes, staff reductions and fewer full-time faculty, administrators are a costly expenditure.

“It is too bad that we seem to respond to the pressure from accreditation, not from what is good for our campus,” said Ronald Levesque, ESL instructor. “Why are we adding more while we are reducing classified faculties and cutting classes?”

“This is a red herring. ACCJC standards also say we must fully staff faculty and serve students. This is an excuse to expand admin while cutting everything else,” Crawford wrote. “We hired two VPs in September, also a VP of Student Affairs. Each VP with staff costs about $250,000. We do not need any of them, and they are so far removed from direct student services that we should not have hired these folks while faculty are not replaced and classes for students are cut.”

Many staff members and students are confused about the role of administrators.

“I believe one VP can do the same job of both of them and get the jobs done just as well,” said drug and alcohol studies major Robert Thomas, 41, student ambassador. “If they actually do their job, then it’s good to have them; but the problem is we have no idea what they do in their office,” a staff assistant said, who wished to remain anonymous.

“I’m convinced that we have too many layers in the administration,” said Charles Heimler, SJCC Academic Senate president. “The reason why we have vice presidents is because in 2004, the Accreditation Commission said that we have to have an ‘administrative structure’ to administrate the school. That was interpreted to mean that we have to have administrative vice presidents.”

Heimler said there are other structures based on a “faculty chair” person, who reports to one dean of instruction, who then reports directly to the president instead of VP positions.

“Yet it is also clear that community colleges have become administration-heavy,” wrote Hasan Rahim, contributor to and Professor of math and science at SJCC, wrote in an article titled ‘Community College faces uncertain future.’ “Too many VPs (each consuming almost a quarter-million dollars) clog the system. There is a glaring lack of accountability at the top. Nepotism and cronyism have become serious issues. Through all this, it is the students who suffer, although it is the students who are supposed to be at the center of what defines a community college.”