Op-Ed: LBCC Faculty Pen Open Letter to Trustees Ahead of Decision on New Superintendent-President

Dear Long Beach City College Board Members:

The Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College represents an inclusive and diverse population that includes the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, the city of Long Beach, and most importantly, the approximately 27,000 students served by the college. Thus, solid leadership requires that the position be filled by a candidate with an ethical history in both his or her professional and personal arenas. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that Dr. Melinda Nish does not meet these criteria. Members of both Orange Coast College and Southwestern College experienced administrative tumult under Dr. Nish.

We ask that the Board, in good faith, not advance a candidate with a documented history of actions against various groups on campus, including groups identified primarily with people of color. The Board should also note that college accreditation failed under Dr. Nish’s tenure at Southwestern College.

Public documents include the following:

March 3, 2017: Candidate’s Past the Source of Unease as LBCCD Picks New Superintendent-President. Orange Coast College faculty and staff express concerns about Nish’s management style and her encouragement of divisiveness between faculty and staff. Nish resigned from Southwestern College after accreditation problems and racial tensions on campus.

June 17, 2016: Southwestern College President Melinda Nish resigns. A student newspaper story describing the academic year leading up to Nish’s resignation, including 15 sanctions from the Accreditation Commission of Community and Junior Colleges that led to the college being put on warning status.

June 17, 2016: Southwestern College president Dr. Melinda Nish resigns. The ABC 10 San Diego news story discusses racial tension at the administrative level with the school’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee as well as the warning status from the Accreditation Commission of Community and Junior Colleges.

February 10, 2016: Southwestern College placed on warning status.  The San Diego Union Tribune also reports on the warning status given to Southwestern College from the Accreditation Commission of Community and Junior Colleges.

August 1, 2008: 75-page document presented to the OCC Board of Trustees.

A comprehensive documentation of the administration vs. faculty climate at OCC, partly attributed to Nish’s tenure as Vice President of Instruction, signed by over 55 faculty members noting, among many details, that many top-down decisions negatively affected students. Should the Board choose to approve Dr. Nish’s appointment as Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College, it does so with full knowledge of the variety of her leadership failures. Long Beach City College must appoint a leader who will advance, not sacrifice, our educational mission and public reputation.

Thank you,

Janet Hund
Member, Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee
LBCCFA President
Assistant Professor, Social Sciences

Dele Ladejobi
Co-Chair, Faculty and Staff Diversity Committee
Member, Student Equity Committee
Chair, LBCCFA Faculty Equity Committee
Professor, Library

DeWayne Sheaffer
Counselor, Counseling and Student Services

Velvet Pearson
LBCCFA Grievance Chair
Professor, English

Thomas Hamilton
AFT Classified President

Karen Roberts
CHI President

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Stephanie Rivera is the community engagement editor for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.