Editorial: Agrella’s song remains the same, luckily it’s a good one

The Oak Leaf

The SRJC Board of Trustees’ choice to halt the selection process for a replacement for longtime president Dr. Robert Agrella, and his generous decision to continue helming the college through the rough seas of the California budget crisis was the correct decision for SRJC. The last thing we needed was an inexperienced, untested and questionably qualified new president.

The board was faced with the option of choosing between candidates who collectively had the skills that were needed to do the job, but individually the candidates each lacked particular experiences. For some it was familiarity with the California community college system; for others it was teaching experience or a depth of leadership experience in a large district spread across multiple sites.

One thing that’s clear is that the board listened to staff and faculty responses. Initially it was unclear what role average members of the college would have in choosing our new president, or whether we would have any input at all. Few members of the college community were flat-out wowed by the finalist candidates during the open forums held a few weeks ago. It’s promising to see that the voices of the college carried into the boardroom, especially since the search is unfinished.

While this decision is the right one for the school and the right one for these tough economic times, we can’t help but think that the air of possibility that arose around the promise of new leadership has been squashed. For better or worse, the status quo will continue for the foreseeable future.

Since Agrella announced his retirement there had been an undercurrent of excited trepidation on campus. As a district, we knew we were about to cross into new territory, but we were not sure what lay on the other side. In the parlance of our times, we could have found a fully fueled helicopter with directions to safety, or we could have found a mob of flesh-eating zombies. We have reached the exit to the corridor and now found that through the door is just another corridor.

While the relief brought by stability is better than brain-starved zombies prepared to chew off our faces, it leaves the school holding its breath. The board has shown the willingness to make hard decisions and keep the best interests of the school in mind. We can trust that they will not make a choice just to make a choice. However, while we wait for them to choose, all we can do is coast.

No matter whom the board chooses, change will come to campus. However, we have to maintain a balance. We cannot afford to choose rashly, or wait for the perfect candidate to arrive. SRJC needs vision not for the next semester, but for the next decade.

This vision must focus on one thing: maintaining the quality of educational opportunities available to students. We need and deserve the whole package. An administrator who can handle the budget but cannot handle growth will do us no good. Neither will one who can manage growth, but can not get us to a place where we are capable of growing.

We are where we need to be for the moment, but only for the moment.