Dr. Lisa Sugimoto Is Still The Best Person For PCC’s Top Job

According to the May 27 issue of the Pasadena City College Courier, the Associated Students organization has made an official request to the Board of Trustees to find “more” candidates for the position of PCC President, open since Dr. Paulette Perfumo left over a controversy surrounding college re-accreditation issues and her lavish job perks.  Read here: http://media.www.pcccourier.com/media/storage/paper1346/news/2010/05/27/News/As.Seeks.Additional.Candidates.For.Top.Post-3920969.shtml

Quoting the Courier:
In a 7-0 vote, the AS Executive Board recommended that the trustees “supplement the current candidates for president/superintendent with additional candidates for consideration.”

This must come as a vote of no confidence to the two candidates vetted by the PCC Board of Trustees for final consideration: Dr. Desdemona Cardoza, Provost at Cal State LA and Dr. Mark Rocha, President of West Los Angeles Community College.  Rocha originally taught English and Cardoza is an academic psychologist whose specialty is Latino ethnic studies.

 “They’re both not PCC material,” said Jason Herbert, vice president of academic affairs, as quoted in the Courier.

Dr. Desdemona Cardoza’s study “Mexican American Ethnic Labeling: An Intrafamilial and Intergenerational Analysis” can be found online with a Google search (too long to post url).  The study concludes that first generation immigrants from Mexico call themselves “Mexican” while second and third generation call themselves “Mexican American.”  I guess we needed a study to find this?  No aspersions on Dr. Cardoza, but this sounds like the joke about the definition of a sociologist: “a sociologist is someone who needs a $100,000 research grant to find the local house of ill repute.”

While at Cal State L.A., Dr. Cardoza was accused by a Student Senator of trying to “extort” the school by her angling to take a position with Cal State Long Beach. http://www.beta.coolstatela.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4852:provost-concerns&catid=36:news&Itemid=66

The second candidate for President, Dr. Mark Rocha, a proponent of what he calls “servant leadership,” stated that PCC needed an “educational master plan” when he addressed PCC students and faculty.

Student Rick Johnson, posting a comment online, responded:
“How about a ten year plan for his current school, WLAC? What a hypocrite! Pasadena, you’re welcome to him.”

To be fair, Dr. Rocha apparently was part of implementing a 10-year plan at West LA Community College.  But that says nothing about the situation at PCC and where PCC currently is in its educational and facility planning.  Anyone wanting to be a candidate for PCC President should not just try and import what they did at some other junior college to PCC.  How’s that saying go? “If all I have is a hammer, everything becomes a nail.”

What PCC needs is someone who can understand the current situation and faculty and staff at PCC that has been demoralized by poor leadership and a poor grade on re-accreditation. A 10-year plan won’t address that. And how do you devise a 10-year plan when the state budget crisis is expected to last at least another decade?

While West LA Community College apparently has had a balanced budget, Dr. Rocha writes online that the number one priority to maintaining a balanced budget is “enrollment growth.”  Read here: http://www.wlac.edu/EMT/EM%20Ltrto%20Divisional%20Chairs%20Dec2-08.pdf

In other words, more enrollments mean more money from the state. But what if the state allocation to community colleges is declining?  Is there a Plan B? Dr. Rocha’s “servant leadership” is thick on clichés and thin on specifics.  And it doesn’t sound like he has done his homework on PCC.  Would you give a good grade to a student who was full of glib cliches but didn’t do their homework and didn’t know the course material?

Do you remember who the recent-past Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade was? It was pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, who prepared his whole life for a few minutes of crisis. And he passed the test with flying colors.  Neither of the two candidates for PCC President exude that kind of preparation or confidence to PCC students who are facing an economic and budget crisis and a demoralized faculty and staff who need to know that the pilot doesn’t parachute when the going gets tough.

Talk about learning failure! PCC appears to suffering a case of what is called “learned helplessness” by repeating the mistakes it made with hiring Dr. Paulette Perfumo.  The PCC Board of Trustees has apparently not learned anything from that failure. Learned helplessness is where people learn to act helplessly usually after avoiding some adverse situation even when it has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance.

Perhaps Adam Kratt, posting a comment online at the PCC Courier, summed it up best:

[begin quote] It is a shame that Dr. Lisa Sugimoto was not offered a longer contract. It was a shame when the Board of Trustees disregarded the selection committees recommendation of Dr. Sugimoto and instead hired Paulette Perfumo who had earlier been rejected by Students, Staff and Faculty and who ultimately was a complete failure at PCC and was even fired from her previous college. Dr. Sugimoto is, was, and will always be a perfect match for PCC. Dr. Sugimoto started out as a student at PCC and later returned as faculty and worked herself into management. When Perfumo crashed and burned and ended up Doing a “Sarah Palin” by giving up and quitting her job Lisa Sugimoto stepped in and worked hard to repair the damage did by Perfumo. Lisa Sugimoto should be encouraged to stay at PCC and should be given a large benefits package as a way to ask her to stay. Dr. Sugimoto is a Lancer through and through and we need someone who knows PCC not an outsider who
bounces from college to college.

Also an interesting note: Since OMD was founded at PCC every President at PCC had been invited and tapped into OMD as an honor to being President of PCC with the exception of two, Paulette Perfumo who was rejected by OMD and Lisa Sugimoto who was already a member when she became President.


This is no disparagement of Drs. Cardoza and Rocha who are likely both fine people.  But it is critical to know the local definition of the situation at PCC before you propose to put into place a 10-year plan during uncertain economic times; or if you want to be president of one of the highest regarded junior colleges in the nation mainly based on your background in ethnic studies.

What the vetting process for PCC President indicates is that there still are problems with the PCC Board of Trustees. Dr. Jeanette Mann, President of the PCC Board of Trustees, is ultimately responsible for this continued failure.

Express your views by posting comments online, writing a letter to the PCC Board of Trustees ([email protected]) and/or the local newspapers.