College of the Canyons’ governing board canceled the special closed session meeting scheduled Wednesday to evaluate Chancellor Dianne Van Hook’s performance.
The virtual meeting of trustees was rescheduled for 3-5 p.m. Thursday for a “public employee performance evaluation” of the chancellor, according to a newly released college agenda report.
The meeting was rescheduled when the trustees realized they hadn’t notified the student trustee about the meeting, according to COC spokesman Eric Harnish.
“We checked with legal counsel, and they indicated that we could move forward with the meeting or reschedule, and so the board president chose to reschedule the meeting to ensure that we fully followed all our processes,” Harnish said.
Since Van Hook’s hiring as the college’s top executive in 1988, the college has established its Canyon Country campus, expanded its budget by $231.1 million, hired more than 270 full-time faculty and staff and erected the University Center, which is home to the SCV Economic Development Corp. and Small Business Development Center.
The chancellor’s performance review comes after COC’s governing board expanded her authority in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic, granting her control over actions necessary to ensure the continuation of public education and the health and safety of students and staff. Van Hook then called for the immediate closure of district sites to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Granting Chancellor Dr. Van Hook emergency authority is imperative to effectively addressing this rapidly changing situation, which requires timely and decisive action in order to reflect the district’s commitment to protect the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff,” board President Michele Jenkins said in a previous statement released by the college.
Van Hook’s evaluation also follows the college’s Trustee Area 2-4 elections, which resulted in two incumbents securing reelection and a newcomer set to join the board, according to certified Los Angeles County election results.
Edel Alonso, the representative for Trustee Area No. 2 and Jenkins, who represents area No. 4, are set to return, while COC alum Sebastian Cazares won Area No. 3 and is set to join the governing board as the youngest elected official in the county and among the youngest college trustees in California over the past recent years, he said. Trustee area maps can be found online at bit.ly/COCTrusteesMap.
The board’s annual organizational meeting, where Cazares would be sworn in, is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16, according to Harnish.
Normally, this performance review is done in June, but due to the pandemic it had been postponed.
Board Vice President Joan MacGregor said she didn’t plan on attending Wednesday’s meeting, stating that she didn’t have adequate time to review the chancellor’s review packet.
“This one was put together very quickly, because I didn’t know until Wednesday (Nov. 25) night late that it was going to be an evaluation meeting, … so that was a surprise,” she said, adding that Van Hook’s 500-page evaluation packet was delivered to her Monday night. “So I made a decision that I could not be at the meeting and be prepared, because I knew I couldn’t read through all of that yesterday.”
While MacGregor believes it important to have an evaluation of the chancellor and that outgoing Trustee Steven Zimmer should get some input, she said she feels the scheduling of the meeting was not handled in the appropriate way.
“Part of that evaluation is setting goals for the chancellor for the following year,” MacGregor added. “When you do it in June, you set the goals for the next college year, so I do think, in that regard, it’s best to have the new trustee that’s going to be coming on… be part of the meeting to give his input from his perspective.”
— Signal Staff Writer Tammy Murga contributed to this report.