Mean, self-centered and unorganized. That’s how President Kevin Walthers was described by those who work with him.
It’s been just over a year since Walthers assumed his post as president of Las Positas College. But his 14-month tenure has been marred by clashes with the rest of the school’s administration.
The outcome is President Walters eventual departure from the college. He’s technically leaving on his own terms, as he recently announced his search for another job. But his departure is much more rooted in his colleagues’ strong opposition to his leadership style.
“No one has approached me,” Walthers said in his defense. “I’m always more than willing to talk to people about their concerns. I think people are venting frustrations.”
Academic senate president Sarah Thompson painted a different picture.
During senate meeting last month, Thompson disclosed a number of complaints about Walthers had been brought to her attention by faculty members, classified staff and administrative personnel.
“They’re sensing a pattern of him being very impulsive, rude, and unprofessional,” Thompson said at the meeting held on Sept. 26. “Also interference of the job. There’s inability to get something done, because it’s being held up him.”
In an interview with the Express, the president confessed — after previously denying — he has begun the process to look for a job at another school.
He is working with search consultants who already found several possible positions for him.
The president’s decision to initiate his departure impeded a vote of disapproval from the Academic Senate.
The administrative body decided to send the president a letter of censure during the aforementioned meeting. The letter, which serves to notify Walthers of the failure of his leadership, was retracted because the president is quitting.
“The letter no longer serves purpose,” Thompson said during another senate meeting on Oct. 10. “We will postpone any further action unless necessary.”
Walthers did not give a final word on when exactly he will be leaving. However, he could officially be at LPC until the end of the fall 2013 semester. His contract expires at the end of this semester, but a clause allows him to have another year to look for another job.
Safe to say many at LPC is hoping he doesn’t stick around that long.
Ron Johansen, LPC Fire Department program coordinator, said Walthers had his priorities wrong when he let go of several key personnel to trim the budget. Back in June, Walthers laid off five employees.
“I felt that we should have had a stronger voice and a stronger representation in these recent budget cuts,” Johansen said at the meeting.
“I can tell you what I’ve done,” Walthers said in response to hearing Johansen’s statement. “Since summer I’ve raised $60,000 towards the budget and suspended two dean positions, which saved five staff jobs.”
Walthers is also accused of picking on small issues rather
than “doing his job” as college leader. One example giving was Walthers’ insistence on changing the school mascot’s colors.
Another issue with Walthers, some said, is his repeated interference.
“He has made my job extremely difficult,” Prather said. “I’m willing to put my reputation on the line to say that I feel he is unsafe, and he lacks sound judgment being our president.”
Melissa Korber, head of the Mass Communications Department and adviser of The Express, experienced that interference. The campus newspaper ordered kiosks to post around the school. But the president’s uninvited involvement delayed the newsstands, which provides revenue for the underfunded campus newspaper.
“I think he might do better in a different environment,” Korber said. “He doesn’t fit in the culture and doesn’t understand the culture.”
Walthers said he wasn’t aware of the disapproval. He said he thought people were really just frustrated with the budget. In his interview with The Express, the president was asked if there was a disconnect between himself and the academic senate.
“I guess so,” he said. “You’re asking me about things which I have no idea about. You might as well be asking me what’s going on with the Obama campaign.”
At that point, Walthers stood up, said “there’s no point in answering anymore questions” and abruptly walked out.