Raul Rodriguez

Hartnell President/Superintendent Raúl Rodríguez

The revolving door to the Hartnell College superintendent’s office has barely stopped spinning since the college’s former seven-year leader, William Lewallen, retired two years ago. The Board of Trustees then hired Patricia Hsieh in 2019 from Miramar College in San Diego County, despite community controversy over a lack of Latino candidates. Hsieh abruptly resigned in June 2020, after only nine months.

Three weeks later, the board hired Raúl Rodríguez as interim superintendent/president. He was first hired for a one-year contract with a salary of $265,000. Two months later, Rodríguez was in line for a higher-paying position in Contra Costa County. To keep him, the board boosted his annual salary to $310,000 and extended his contract to three years, with an end date of June 2023. (Interim community college superintendent/presidents are only allowed to serve two years, but the state waived the rule during the pandemic. The waiver ended in June.)

Rodríguez is now in line for a possible position as president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, headquartered in Novato. In a memo obtained by the Weekly that Rodríguez sent to the board on Nov. 17, he apologizes “for surprising you last night with my news” about the ACCJC job.

“Please understand that I am not unhappy at Hartnell and I am deeply grateful for the faith and support that the [board] has invested in my tenure,” he wrote.

A Hartnell spokesperson says Rodríguez is not seeking to end his employment with Hartnell. But Rodríguez says by phone that he would consider an offer from the ACCJC: “I didn’t call them, they called me.” If a position is offered, “I’d have to listen.” He adds that he has “a good relationship with the board,” and has been up-front about a possible job elsewhere, saying, “Hey this is a possibility. Who knows?”

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