SALINAS — Hartnell Community College Superintendent/President Patricia Hsieh has resigned from her position effective June 30 after less than a year.
Hsieh joined Hartnell last September after working for nearly 14 years as president of Miramar College in the San Diego Community College District. On June 16, Hartnell’s District Governing Board accepted her resignation.
In a statement shared with Hartnell employees on June 15, Governing Board President Aurelio Salazar Jr. stressed the importance of maintaining confidentiality on personnel matters for all employees. He also noted that Hsieh had been unable to attend the board’s previous meeting on June 2 because of a family medical emergency.
“Our thoughts are with her and her family, and we wish them the very best,” Salazar said in the statement.
Romero Jalomo, vice president of student affairs, will serve as acting superintendent/president of the college for up to 30 days, as authorized under board policy. The board will then appoint an interim superintendent/president who will provide college leadership until a permanent replacement is chosen.
“We are grateful to Dr. Hsieh for her service to Hartnell and its students,” Salazar said. “We will now set our sights on finding a new leader to join with the entire Hartnell College community as we maintain our intense focus on student success and meeting workforce needs in the greater Salinas Valley.”
He pledged that the work of selecting a permanent successor to Hsieh will need “all hands on deck” to ensure broad campus and community engagement in the selection.
Emphasizing the word “community” in the district’s name, Salazar said, “I know that this board will want to make sure that all industries, all sectors have a voice in selecting the next superintendent.”
Board Vice President Pat Donohue commented that she will remember Hsieh for her “tireless energy.”
“She served tirelessly during this particularly challenging time — the pandemic, the move to online classes exclusively, advising the Board on looming budget issues — always mindful of keeping our students’ success first,” Donohue said.
During Hsieh’s tenure, Hartnell broke ground on four major construction projects that are being funded with Measure T bonds, which district voters approved in 2016.
On the Main Campus, work is nearing completion on a new central plaza and modernization of classrooms in Building D, and work continues on the new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, which will be named for the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. The other two current projects are the expansion of the King City Education Center and construction of a new Soledad Education Center, with construction also set to start this fall on a new Hartnell center in Castroville.
In addition to a switch to online learning because of Covid-19, the past nine months have also been focused on preparation for Hartnell’s College Redesign plan, including establishment of academic program groupings known as meta-majors, intended to guide students into career areas that match their interests.