City College chancellor to leave

City College of San Francisco has launched a search for a new chief, as the current chancellor, Philip Day, has announced plans to leave the community college by August 2008.

Day told The Examiner that he is leaving San Francisco to be closer to his children and grandchildren on the East Coast. The Maine native has already begun interviewing for other jobs and was one of three final candidates for the position of president of the North Carolina Community College System, although the college system’s board did not choose Day when it announced a decision Thursday night.

“There are a number of opportunities I’m right in the middle of exploring,” said Day, who is 62. “I’m not ready to retire.”

Natalie Berg, who has been on City College’s board of trustees since 1997, but has been associated with the community college since 1967, said she’s seen many chancellors come and go.

“He is the best chancellor we’ve ever had, and we’ve had some good chancellors,” Berg said.

One of the hallmarks of Day’s ten-year tenure at City College has been a building boom, financed mainly through the passage of three facilities improvement bonds — totaling $491 million — passed in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

The Mission campus has been renovated, and a new health center will open Jan. 15. In October, the City College board of trustees approved plans for a new Chinatown campus, and future projects include a new joint-use building with some classrooms and a performing arts center.

“His main legacy will be a physical one,” said Julio Ramos, a member of the board of trustees.

Recently, the ambitious building effort has also cast some shadows on City College, due to triple-digit cost overruns, protests over the scope of the Chinatown project and the discovery of several inappropriate fundraising moves during the campaign for the 2005 bond measure.

In May, the trustees approved a $75,000 contract to hire an independent investigator to look into allegations of misuse of funds during that bond campaign. The college also hired an independent audit firm that began work last month on a separate review of the bond spending.

Day said he’s not worried about either investigation, adding that he sees them as necessary steps to shoring up public confidence since he expects that City College will need to ask for more bond money.

“We all admitted that there was indeed a mistake,” said Day about a $10,000 lease payment that was diverted into the bond campaign. “We wanted to make sure that there were no other issues or problems … so we could take whatever steps necessary to correct any dificencies.”

Trustee Rodel Rodis, a member of the board since 1992, said Day’s achievements are many. He said that labor strife that had plagued previous chancellors has disappated through Day’s efforts and student protests over unmet educational needs are a thing of the past.

“I fear that regardless of how qualified the next chancellor may be, he or she will almost certainly pale in comparison to Dr. Day,” Rodis said.

beslinger@examiner.com  

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