Three finalists for the top administrative job at Glendale Community College spoke of transparency, trust and compassion during a public forum Thursday where each put forth their vision for the campus.
Born and raised in Mauritius, a small island off the southern coast of Africa, Rajen Vurdien is president of Fullerton College, a post he has held since 2010. Previously, he was a vice president at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo for six years.
"I see the Glendale position as an opportunity for me to grow and serve the students in a different capacity," he said, explaining why he wants to be the school's next supt./president.
"The college is moving in the right direction," he added.
Years of budget cuts by the state have created long waitlists for Glendale classes. Vurdien, as well as the other two finalists, said that reality means the school needs to seek additional outside funding.
Farley Herzek, interim president of East Los Angeles College, said he recently stepped onto the GCC campus for two "stealth visits" without a suit and tie to get a better feel of the campus.
"I already feel very comfortable here," he said.
A large portion of Herzek's career — 29 years — was spent in Long Beach, serving in various roles with the Long Beach Community College District and Long Beach Unified.
Herzek was born and raised in New York City, the son of a Holocaust survivor.
If chosen, Herzek said, he would like his colleagues to have a "strong sense of trust and confidence in what I'm doing here."
"If you can't get large groups of people sharing a common goal without trust and confidence, how successful can you be?" he asked.
David Viar is president of American River College in the Sacramento area, a post he has held for eight years.
Viar was born and raised in Illinois, was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam.
He said his leadership style is sometimes "too patient" and "too caring" as he tries to involve as many people as he can in any significant decision-making process.
Asked how he would tackle the reduced summer and winter offerings at GCC, Viar said he couldn't offer a direct answer, yet.
"It's not because I want to duck that answer, but I have not been through that situation," he said. "I need to be about listening as a new president … and work with everyone in trying to analyze how we can best serve students with limited funds we have."
College officials hope to have the position filled by July 1.
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