The Merced College Board of Trustees accepted the retirement of the school president during a closed session, but chose to put him on paid leave without explanation for the remainder of the year rather than have him serve out the semester.
During a special meeting Tuesday, the board unanimously accepted the retirement of President Ron Taylor before a 5-2 vote in closed session placed him on leave immediately. Trustees Cindy Lashbrook and Joe Gutierrez cast the dissenting votes, according to records.
The members of the board who spoke with the Sun-Star would not discuss the motive for suspending Taylor, citing personnel issues. It was also unclear whether there was a connection between the leave and his retirement. Taylor makes $265,206 in annual pay and benefits, according to Transparent California, a watchdog website.
Board President Dennis Jordan said Chris Vitelli, vice president of student services, will serve as the acting president until the board appoints an interim leader.
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It is our goal to keep the business of the district moving forward and to continue serving our students to assist with access and success.
Dennis Jordan, the board president, in an email
“It is our goal to keep the business of the district moving forward and to continue serving our students to assist with access and success,” Jordan said in an email.
Taylor has worked for the college since 2012. Reached by phone on Wednesday, he said “it would not be appropriate” to comment on the board’s decision.
He confirmed he had previously applied for positions at more than one college, but stopped short of saying exactly how many colleges or whether that had anything to do with the board’s vote.
Jordan confirmed on Wednesday that the board was aware that Taylor had applied for other positions. He declined to say whether that was related to the suspension.
$265,206President Ron Taylor’s annual pay and benefits
Lashbrook, who voted against the suspension, said she would have preferred that the board kept Taylor on through June, when his retirement would take effect. “I just felt for continuity and to be able to start up with the hiring process that it would have been a good idea,” she said.
Lashbrook said the college will have to begin searching for its next president.
When Taylor joined the college it was facing accreditation issues from which it has since emerged. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges reaffirmed the college’s full accreditation status without sanction in 2014. Until then, the college had been on warning status from the commission since the summer of 2011.