By Brian Villalba
New interim president, Farley Herzek, was selected from a number of candidates to take on East Los Angeles College during a financial crisis.
Herzek was among the candidates considered for the permanent ELAC president position. “Being the interim president gives the board of trustees the ability to see how I perform,” Herzek said.
Herzek begins his term as interim president with 32 years of experience in education. He spent 29 years at Long Beach City College as the dean of academic affairs and three years as vice president of academic affairs at College of the Desert.
Here at ELAC, Herzek inherits a budget deficit, which is going to require institution-wide cuts.
With the cuts, a freshman’s first college experience is to add a class with a crowd of other students. That is not the message Herzek would like ELAC to send.
Enrollment is up from 27,305 last fall to 28,451 students. With the section cuts, there are more students competing for fewer sections. Herzek said, “We want to squeeze as many seats as we can out of a class.”
The Los Angeles Community College District is projecting funding declines of more than 25 percent through 2017, assuming little to no economic growth over that same time period.
Proposition 30, which would raise taxes on residents who make more than $250,000, and one quarter cent for sales and tax use with the purpose of preventing the steep cuts to education, is of great concern to Herzek.
“If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass, the consequences to this community are going to be horrible,” Herzek said. Proposition 38, which is also on the ballot this November, is the alternative to Proposition 30.
According to the state of California Attorney General, personal income tax rates would increase a minimum of .4 percent for people making more than $7,316, up to 2.2 percent for people making more than 2.5 million, for 12 years.
Of the two propositions Herzek said, “I prefer Proposition 30.” If Proposition 30 does pass, according to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, ELAC will face over 60 percent cuts for winter session and sixteen percent cuts for spring session.
The cuts for this fall have been six percent. In spite of the significance of the upcoming election that will determine the future funding of ELAC, Herzek does not have an official position. Herzek said, “I don’t feel comfortable suggesting positions for people.”
“People need to do their own research and make the best informed decision they can make,” he said. Herzek attributes his political neutrality to both personal and professional preference.
Even if Proposition 30 passes there may still be some budget shortfall based on the LACCD projections. Herzek advocates student voter registration and student awareness of political issues.
“Yes, we are having a general presidential election, but it is the local elections that have the most impact. The President of the United States is not going to affect the amount (sic) of sections we offer next semester. Proposition 30 will.”
About the professors at ELAC, Herzek said, “Community college professor positions are highly coveted. I think a community college professor is one of the best occupations there is, hands down.”