Several faculty from Santa Fe Community College have expressed concerns regarding presidential candidate Dr. Raúl Rodríguez, stating that aspects of Rodriguez’s work history were not shared with the community college’s presidential search advisory committee that included approximately 20 community members, students, teachers and staff by the outside consulting firm asked to help narrow the list of candidates.
“The biggest concern I have is the search firm we hired to facilitate the search process didn’t seem to catch the whole story and share it with the search committee,” said Faculty Senate president Xubi Wilson. “The search firm did raise issues about each candidate. For some reason, all of these issues with [Rodríguez] did not come up and were not communicated.”
Rodríguez currently serves as the chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District that consists of four community colleges in Orange County, California. Prior to Rancho Santiago, Rodríguez, was president of San Joaquin Delta College for eight years.
Rodríguez, 67, is one of four finalists for the Santa Fe Community College presidency and took part in a public forum that occurred in early March.
Critics of the candidate are particularly raising concerns about a grand jury report that details the increase in costs of buildings paid for with bond money at San Joaquin, and an audit by the state controller made in 2008 that noted bond money was not spent properly on improvements to athletics facilities and electronic marquee signs, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
The audit and grand jury report focused on San Joaquin’s Board of Trustees and did not mention Rodríguez’s involvement.
Rodríguez began his role as Rancho Santiago Community College district chancellor in June 2010. Five years later, the Orange County Register reported that he proposed a new partnership between the district and several technical schools in Saudi Arabia.
Rodríguez promised that the deal would be worth as much as $120 million for the school. It profited less than $2.2 million.
“These stories are what happens in a collective bargaining state when you have unions that try to sow chaos so they get what they want in their contract,” Rodríguez said about the incidents. “They don’t reflect who I am as a leader. They’re not true. If you talk to the majority of faculty and managers that I have worked with, they will tell you that I’m a strong and ethical leader.”
Santa Fe faculty members said they first learned about the incidents after contacting faculty members from schools where Rodríguez previously worked.
At a recent closed-door board meeting, members received a final report on the five finalists for the position. The reports will include extensive reference checking beyond what the candidate submitted in his or her original application, said governing board member Martha Romero.
“I looked at the grand jury reports and those were about board members and not about him. … I know from having been in California that sometimes there is a disgruntled faculty member and that seems to be part of this process,” said Romero. “The board will have a pretty rigorous decision about where to go next.”