Ramirez to leave
Kevin Ramirez will retire as president of Sierra Community College July 1, under a pending settlement reached with the board of trustees early Friday morning.
Trustees voted 6-1 to approve the agreement, the details of which were not released to the public. Meadow Vista-area Trustee David Creek cast the lone dissenting vote.
The agreement ends an arduous process for the trustees and Ramirez, who have met four times in closed session to hammer out the seperation.
The meetings were prompted in part by a request from new Nevada County-area Trustee Aaron Klein, who on Dec. 20 asked the college president to resign for a variety of reasons.
“Dr. Ramirez has served the district with dedication and distinction, leading the college through enormous growth and academic success,” the board wrote in a joint statement with Ramirez.
Ramirez thanked the college community for its support during his nearly 12-year tenure as president.
“It’s been an honor for me to serve the Sierra College community,” he said. “I am proud of the accomplishments made over the years by our dedicated faculty and staff. I’m confident that the district will continue to prosper because of these talented individuals.”
Because of a clause in the federal age discrimination and employment act, school officials said, details of the agreement can’t be released until Jan. 29. The law applies to anyone over the age of 40 who signs such a contract, said attorney Ann Murray, who represents Sierra College.
In asking for the president’s resignation, Klein, 26, alleged that Ramirez had shifted $100,000 from the nonprofit Sierra College Foundation to pay for a failed $384 million bond campaign in March. He also alleged that Ramirez took money earmarked for critical repairs to the college and gave them to the athletic department and spent critical money on administrative raises, all of which the college denies.
Klein released a brief statement Thursday and subsequently declined further comment.
“I am united with my board colleagues and after careful thought and consideration, decided to vote with them for this retirement agreement. I believe that this outcome is in the best interests of Sierra College, its students and the taxpayers,” Klein said.
Ramirez, the college, and the foundation’s former president have denied any wrongdoing.
With the president’s situation now settled, Trustee Nancy Palmer said, she hopes the college can move productively toward the start of the spring semester that begins Monday.
“Everybody concerned wanted to finish this up, to move on and get down to business,” she said. “It’s the end of an era, but we will move on and be better than ever.”
Palmer endorsed the candidacy of Klein, who outpolled 20-year board member David Parker; and Scott Leslie, who bested incumbent Robert Tomasini of Roseville in the November election.
Palmer joined the board in 1993, the year Ramirez was hired to replace the retiring Gerald Angove.
Ramirez is the college’s fourth president in the district’s 47-year history.
“Change is hard for everybody,” Palmer said.
Accepting the shift will be hard but not impossible, said counselor Bart Ruud, who has worked at the Rocklin campus with all four of the college’s presidents in his 30-plus years as an instructor.
“I want the school to be able to move forward, but we also need due diligence in what (the board) will be doing and what their actions will be,” said Ruud, who has been a steady presence among faculty during the closed-session meetings outside the offices of the Learning Resource Center. He plans to increase his presence at the board’s meetings.
“I didn’t go to board meetings because I had no doubts about what they were doing. Now I do feel like I have to be a watchdog. … I think there needs to be a heightened level of vigilance.”
Instructor Barry Abrams of the college’s faculty senate released a statement Friday during the group’s twice-annual meeting held before each semester.
“The Sierra College faculty deeply regrets the loss of Dr. Kevin Ramirez, president and superintendent, and abhors the process which forced his resignation. We take strong exceptions to the allegations used to force this resignation. We have grave concerns about negative effects on the college and community.”
While not directly involved in the situation, Angove supported Ramirez, hoping the college could bounce back fast.
“Kevin’s had a good career, and I hope this doesn’t set the college back,” said Angove, who served as college president from 1975-93 and helped Ramirez transition from a vice president to head of the 25,000-student system. “I’m saddened, because any time these kinds of things occur, nobody wins.”
Angove was the chief backer of Measure G, a $44.4 million bond that passed in November to expand the Nevada County Campus, which opened in 1996.
Ramirez, 57, earns $168,000 annually. His contract originally expired in 2007.
Nevada County Campus Provost Tina Ludutsky-Taylor said she hoped for a smooth transition to classes Monday, despite the brief upheaval caused by the college president’s retirement.
“I don’t think it’s going to have an impact on day-to-day operations,” she said, noting that the four-campus system has a well-defined council of executive managers to oversee policy during the transition.
“The greatest legacy for Dr. Ramirez would be for us to carry on in doing the great job for the community that we’ve been doing,” Ludutsky-Taylor said.
The details of the exit settlement between Sierra College President Kevin Ramirez and the Board of Trustees will not be made public until Jan. 29, after a weeklong review period. The contract can be canceled at any time until then.
On July 1, Ramirez will be given the title of president emeritus of the college district. At this point, there is no timetable for a replacement, according to college officials.
Ramirez, 57, has served as college president since 1993. He is paid $168,000 annually under his current contract, which is due to expire in 2007.
– David Mirhadi
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