Shortly before 4 a.m. this morning, after a nearly 12-hour hearing, the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees announced that President Andreea Serban will be leaving the school on a paid leave of absence effective immediately. Described by the school’s recently hired attorney Craig Price as “a positive and agreed-upon conclusion,” the deal, which was brokered behind closed doors and with several lawyers present, brings to a close more than seven months of public speculation and controversy over Serban’s future at City College.
The specifics of the deal, read into the record by Price during the predawn hours, include Serban’s paid leave of absence from now through June 30, 2012. At that time, the early termination provision of Serban’s existing contract (which was meant to expire June 30, 2014) will be implemented and the outgoing president will be given 18 months of her current salary (roughly $215,000 a year) plus full benefits as she is shown the door. Additionally, Price explained that Serban will retain her title of SBCC’s Superintendent President during her paid leave while also being “available to assist the college during the transition and in other ways” yet to be determined. A formally drafted document detailing the specific terms of the severance package will be presented and voted upon at a future Board of Trustees meeting.
The meeting—which featured two hours of often intense public comment, including an impassioned speech by former City College president Peter MacDougall in defense of Serban, and some 10 hours of closed session negotiations between trustees, lawyers, and Serban—concluded with a 5-0 vote in favor of the conditioned termination. Trustee Morris Jurkowitz was absent for the vote (he bailed on the grueling marathon of a meeting right around 2 a.m.) while Trustee Joan Livingston abstained.
Check back at independent.com for a full report on Thursday’s meeting.