By Rebecca Canales, Founder and CEO, Whittier 360 News Network
Just a day after Whittier 360 News Network published an investigative piece scrutinizing the Board of Trustees of Whittier College for allegations of conflicts of interest, hostile work environment, among other issues, a massive reshuffling of the board was announced on the college's official website.
The incoming Chair of the Board, Ron Gastelum, a distinguished alumnus from the Class of 1968, and previously the CEO and General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, announced the changes in a heartfelt letter addressed to the Whittier College community. Gastelum has been closely involved with the college over the years and has agreed to step into the role of Chair amid these turbulent times.
In a move that appears to be a demotion in the wake of our investigative report, Kenya Williams (JD ‘10), former Interim Chair, will now continue to serve as a regular board member, a role she has occupied since 2016. Despite Gastelum’s appreciation of her leadership during her interim term, Williams's demotion is a clear signal of significant changes ahead for the board.
The announcement also unveiled several additions to the board. Richard I. Gilchrist '68, P’06 ’07, formerly holding the status of Trustee Emeritus, will return as a full-time member. Newcomers to the board include Dr. Raquel Torres-Retana ’91, Tiffany Dean ‘97, and Lila Wiggs Laviano ‘03. Further, discussions are underway to bring back Kristine Dillon ‘73, a seasoned veteran in board management.
Beyond changes within the Board, Dr. sal johnston is set to assume the position of Interim President, a decision that Gastelum enthusiastically supports, fostering a sense of optimism for the college's future.
In Gastelum's letter, he expressed a commitment to transparency, ensuring regular communication with the community as new developments transpire. He will soon initiate a series of meetings with various stakeholders to understand their aspirations for the college's next president, marking the start of a comprehensive presidential search process.
Following the intense scrutiny faced by the Board of Trustees, these changes indicate a strong desire for a fresh start and a commitment to repair the College's reputation. As we continue to hold the Board accountable, we look forward to witnessing the positive effects these changes will bring about, including fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment within the institution.
Unless there were resignations from the board this brings the number of Trustees to 23 from 17.
Stay tuned to Whittier 360 News Network as we continue to follow this story.