LBCC gets new superintendent-president; declares emergency over COVID-19

Lou Anne Bynum was officially named the interim superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District Saturday evening after the school’s board of trustees held an emergency closed door meeting on Saturday evening to finalize her contract.

Bynum, who is currently a member of the Long Beach Harbor Commission, will replace Reagan Romali who was fired by the board on March 4.

Romali and members of the board had been accusing each other of wrongdoing for months. The former president was placed on administrative leave after the board’s decision last week, and her contract will be officially terminated next month.

“Welcome back,” Board President Vivian Malauulu told Bynum, who spent more than 20 years at LBCC before retiring, including serving as executive vice president of college advancement and economic development.

Roughly 20 people assembled inside the board’s meeting room applauded at the news.

Bynum spoke briefly after the board’s announcement, saying that she literally dropped “four hot potatoes” in the middle of making dinner to make it to the meeting after the board requested her to be present.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” Bynum said. “This has always been my educational home and I’ve never wanted to work at any other college. I’m just joyful about it.”

The hiring of Bynum, who had previously served as executive vice president of college advancement and economic development, could be a temporary fix while the board pursues a long-term hire for the school’s top job. However, the agreement could be extended if both parties agree. An announcement on a possible extension could come in August. She had retired from the college in 2017.

Bynum’s contract with the board will pay her $20,000 per month, not including benefits like healthcare, a life insurance policy, district-issued electronic devices and reimbursement for mileage and other travel expenses.

After the board formally announced Bynum as the interim head of the district, it moved to declare an emergency regarding the the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to five cases being diagnosed in Long Beach.

Earlier this week the college joined other school districts in the region in announcing it would transition most of its courses to online instruction or some other form of remote learning and published a list of those courses Friday. Some courses, like nursing, science courses with labs, trades and culinary classes will remain on campus with in-person instruction.

The emergency measure would give the college the ability to ban students from campus if they have traveled to parts of the world known to have been impacted by COVID-19 and also the ability to send students home who are exhibiting fever or respiratory infection symptoms.

The campus is expected to remain closed, with the exception of the courses still being taught in person, until mid-April.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.