Cuesta College removes ‘underperforming’ vice president

Vice president who once led accreditation at troubled school will be replaced by a dean

acornejo@thetribunenews.comJune 27, 2012 

Four months after being relieved of her duties overseeing Cuesta College’s accreditation, the college’s vice president of academic affairs has been removed from her position because of performance issues.

Cathleen Greiner, who has been with the college since 2008, is on paid administrative leave through September. She could not be reached for comment.

Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to terminate Greiner’s contract.

In February, President Gil Stork appointed Deborah Wulff, dean of academic affairs, to take over accreditation duties. Wulff will now fill Greiner’s post as vice president on an interim basis for six months starting July 1.

The shift in the troubled college’s administration comes after much speculation that its top leaders were not performing strongly enough.

“The bottom line is we can’t tolerate or sustain our progress and movement if we have people underperforming in critical jobs, so we have to make a change,” Stork said.

The college’s struggles to retain its accreditation stem from years of volatile leadership and a lack of high-level attention to the required standards just as they had started to change.

The college is now in the final stage of sanction: either it fixes the identified problems this year or it loses its accreditation and faces closure.

Stork said the decision to remove Greiner from her vice presidency was based on underperformance.

Greiner, who makes $156,921 annually, is one year into a three-year contract that guarantees she must be given 90 days notice if her contract is going to be terminated and 18 months of pay and benefits if she is fired. However, Stork retains the right to reassign her to another job if one becomes available. If she refuses that post, she will not receive the severance package.

Stork said he intends to find a position for her where she can be “effective.”

Wulff, who has been with the college since 2008, will continue to oversee accreditation in her role as interim vice president.

She said her main focus will remain on accreditation, but she will also work to fix identified gaps in academic affairs.

“What I’m looking forward to is bringing back processes that are really necessary and a connection between academic affairs, student services and administrative services,” Wulff said. “We lost some communication and the processes that used to be in place years ago.”

Wulff makes $111,516 as a dean. Her salary as vice president is not finalized, but the range for that post is $129,100 to $156,921. The trustees are scheduled to approve her new contract July 11.

Also, Linda Fontanilla, vice president of student services, is leaving the college to take the same job at Irvine Valley College. Her replacement has not been named.

Fontanilla had been pursuing jobs in Southern California for several years to reunite with her husband who moved there five years ago for work. Her decision to leave Cuesta College had nothing to do with the turmoil the college faces, she said.

“I’ve made it very clear that I am not running away,” Fontanilla said. “The timing is coincidental and unfortunate.”

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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