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News-Press Editorial: Solving the turmoil at GCC

May 24, 2013

Glendale Community College trustees had a short-lived moment of relief this week, having approved a three-year contract with David Viar, who will serve as the school's new superintendent/president beginning this summer.

Despite progress made on that front, however, all is not well on Verdugo Boulevard. No sooner was the ink dry on the deal with Viar than the head of the faculty union, Isabelle Saber, resigned from her union post, signaling more turmoil for the campus.

Under Saber's leadership, the Faculty Guild has seemingly done what it can to maintain a decent relationship with the trustees during very difficult budgetary times, years that required concessions from faculty as well as pay cuts for management and even the board itself.

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Late last July, shortly after former GCC President Dawn Lindsay left for greener pastures and Jim Riggs was appointed interim superintendent, Saber applauded him for ameliorating the long-standing tension between the faculty, administration and the board of trustees. "We have been able to address and solve more problems in the last two weeks than in the entire year in the recent past," she said at the time.

But this week Saber was clearly frustrated anew. She cited as one of her reasons for leaving the post a "level of discourse" with board trustees during a recent board retreat that is below the level she is willing to accept.

To be sure, the board, school management and union have all had to endure a great deal due to incredibly difficult budget pressures. It looks like their willingness to work together in the spirit of shared sacrifices has been strained to the breaking point. Hopefully Saber's decision to quit as union president isn't a harbinger of more difficult times ahead. Clearly Viar has his work cut out for him: He'll need to mend fences with the faculty while still toeing the line on a tight budget, no enviable task.

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