CCSF poised to hire gay chancellor

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday May 21, 2024
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Mitchell Bailey is expected to be named interim chancellor at City College of San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy Mitchell Bailey
Mitchell Bailey is expected to be named interim chancellor at City College of San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy Mitchell Bailey

City College of San Francisco may get its first gay male chancellor soon, as its board president has negotiated a new contract with a former official in San Mateo's community college system to serve as its interim leader, the Bay Area Reporter has learned.

Mitchell Bailey is currently the owner and principal consultant at San Francisco consulting firm MBailey Advisors LLC. Alan Wong, president of the San Francisco Community College District Board of Trustees, told the B.A.R. that the board still has to vote on the appointment, which it is expected to do May 30.

It's expected that Mitchell's planned appointment will be announced when City College holds its commencement ceremony May 23.

"Being a college president, chancellor, or CEO is never something I aspired to but when I was approached to put my hat in the ring, I gave it a lot of thought and did research to see if I could be of some value," Bailey told the B.A.R. in an exclusive interview. "I look forward to the opportunity. City College is a snapshot of the city."

While Bailey would be the college's first gay male leader, he's not the first out interim chancellor. That distinction belongs to lesbian Susan Lamb, who was tapped for the position in 2015, as the B.A.R. reported.

Bailey will serve as the community college district — City College is its sole college and has several campuses — looks for a new permanent chancellor.

He has his work cut out for him — the current chancellor, David Martin, announced last September he'd be departing at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year when his contract ends. According to Roseville Today, he has taken a job at Sierra College in Placer County, near Sacramento. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that he'd been chancellor since 2021 and did not give a reason for his resignation, but layoffs and budget cuts in an attempt to achieve fiscal stability made him unpopular with parts of the faculty union, the paper reported.

While the board was able to approve a balanced budget and set aside a 5% reserve, it faced harsh criticism from students and faculty over the cuts it made to do so. And it is already bracing for more fiscal challenges in coming years.

As Wong noted in a recent guest opinion piece in the San Francisco Examiner, "the big elephant in the room is that beginning in the 2025-26 fiscal year, City College will no longer receive cost-of-living adjustments, and revenue will be frozen until City College is eligible for more funding under a revised state funding formula enacted in 2017." If it doesn't see enrollment continue to grow, City College may not see its funding increase until the 2031-32 fiscal year, he warned.

Wong told the B.A.R. that "we need to grow enrollment and flatten our spending through prioritizing essential classes and employee attrition. Everything else is a distraction."

"In addition, for the first time since 1997, City College received a clean audit, with three independent financial audits verifying the health of the college's general fund, parcel tax and general-obligation bond," he stated.

In January, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges gave City College a warning that "the Commission requires the Governing Board consider the College's long-range fiscal implications when making financial decisions in order to assure financial stability."

The college remains accredited, though it must prepare a report to detail how it will fix these issues.

Bailey, 44, told the B.A.R. he doesn't intend to apply to the permanent chancellor position, but he is excited to return to the world of community colleges. Until 2022, he'd been a vice chancellor and chief of staff to the chancellor at the San Mateo Community College District.

Bailey said he is happy to serve, "if I can do something to help the college be the institution I felt it should be, I obviously should do that."

Bailey said he has lived in San Francisco with his partner for seven and a half years. He is originally from eastern Kentucky, and met his partner in Arizona. Before coming to the Golden State, Bailey was chief of staff and assistant to the president at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

They decided to come to the Bay Area because "it was always on our list of places we should be. The city is a place you get to be who you are, or who you want to be, so I started looking for opportunities in higher education and joined the San Mateo Community College District in 2016."

Ron Galatolo, the former chancellor of the district, is facing 23 felony counts on allegations he directed construction contracts toward people who gave him gifts, or with whom he shared financial interests, alongside other allegations of financial malfeasance, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal, which reported May 20 his preliminary hearing was pushed to June 4. Bailey is not implicated in any allegation of wrongdoing, and declined to comment on the matter.

Bailey said he doesn't know the timetable for choosing a new permanent chancellor. A community college grad himself (from the aforementioned Sinclair), he thinks City College will benefit from someone who "understands the value of community college education, and the value of City College to its community."

Wong told the B.A.R. that the board has already hired a search firm that will help it to move forward in doing "a national search for a new chancellor," he said.

"I have great faith in his abilities and that the college will go in the right direction," Wong told the B.A.R. "He has extensive experience leading at all aspects of a community college district. I'm very proud he is the first gay man to step into the chancellorship role at City College. City College is a place of many firsts, and finally it's time we had our first gay man as chancellor."

When reached for comment May 21, Vick Chung, a pansexual and nonbinary member of the board, referred comment to Wong. Shanell Williams, a queer woman and past board president who is still on the board, told the B.A.R. she would comment later May 21.

Updated, 5/22/24: This article has been updated to indicate that Susan Lamb, a lesbian, was the first out interim chancellor of City College.

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