Thursday June 21, 2007 | With a spring in her step and an air of perpetual hurriedness about her, Victoria Munoz Richart was all smiles Tuesday morning as she prepared for the 3 p.m. regular board meeting between administration and faculty at MiraCosta Community College. Since Richart came to MiraCosta in 2004 as president, tensions between faculty and administration have risen steadily, stemming largely from the felony investigation of faculty members in a palm tree scandal and the subsequent creation of a political action committee to get the president removed.
“When I think about the accomplishments this school has made since I came here it helps me to push the rest of this aside,” Richart said in an interview.
Fifteen hours later, after a tense overnight meeting in closed session that ended in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Richart resigned, collected a $650,000 severance package and a guarantee that she can continue to fight a war that has raged for three years.
With an enrollment of more than 10,000 and two campuses in Oceanside and Encinitas, MiraCosta Community College has grown steadily since it opened in 1934. The college follows a collegial governance structure that is comprised of an academic senate made up of teaching faculty, a classified senate that includes all non-teaching staff, and the seven-member board of trustees. The superintendent and president serves as the executive officer for the board of trustees.
The tumultuous last few years have left a bruise on the college’s relatively scandal-free past and have created what Academic Senate President Jonathan Cole calls a “climate of distrust” between faculty and the administration.
“Her departure was a long time coming,” said Susan Herrmann, a professor at MiraCosta and head of a recently created political action committee, Restore MiraCosta.