Mesalands president fired

By Thomas Garcia

QCS Senior Writer

Mesalands Community College’s board of trustees fired its president

Oct. 31 without cause through a certified letter.

“We did terminate Mildred Lovato’s contract on Oct. 31,” college trustee Chairman J Bronson Moore said on Tuesday.

Moore told the QCS on Nov. 6 that Lovato had not been fired, but had been placed on administrative leave.

However, documents obtained by the QCS show Lovato had in fact been terminated effective Oct. 31 by the board through a certified letter.

“I did not want Lovato to learn she had been fired through a second source such as the media,” Moore said, explaining the discrepancy.

Moore said he was not trying to cover the truth; he was simply trying to give Lovato a chance to be made aware of her termination before the public was informed.

Moore said Lovato was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 22 following an executive session during a special board meeting.

And that was not the first time Lovato has been on administrative leave from an institution of higher education, according to a 2010 student news report. Before she was hired by Mesalands, Lovato, vice president of instruction at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield Calif., was on administrative leave “due to personal and confidential reasons,” BC President Greg Chamberlain told the student newspaper.

“The Renegade Rip,” outlined the few details of Lovato’s leave. In that article Amber Chiang, director of media relations at Bakersfield, said the administration would not comment on her absence.

Moore said the Mesalands board was not aware that Lovato was on leave at Bakersfield.

Minutes from a Mesalands board meeting show Vice President of Academic Affairs Natalie Gillard informed the trustees upon their leaving an Oct. 22 executive session that Lovato had left the college. Gillard was named acting president of Mesalands at that time.

Moore said following an executive session during an Oct. 31 special meeting, the board voted to terminate Lovato’s contract.

He said the certified letter was drafted and mailed on Nov. 1 to Lovato.

Mesalands hired Lovato in April 2011.

Moore would not comment on the reason for Lovato’s termination, nor would Public Relations Director Kimberly Hanna comment on a cause.

Board meeting minutes show Gillard informed the board that Lovato had entered into a verbal agreement without the board’s consent to make the college the fiscal agent for Children’s Youth and Families Department’s new home visit group program.

Moore declined to comment if that decision was connected to Lovato’s termination.

Regarding Lovato’s time at Bakersfield, Hanna said the selection process for the new president to replace then retiring president Phillip O. Barry was done through a committee consulting with the Association of Community College Trustees.

The committee reviewed applications and resumes, which were submitted to the ACCT headquarters in Washington D.C., said Wayne Newton, ACCT consultant. Newton said he was the ACCT consultant who helped the committee in the application screening process.

Hanna said the college did not have a copy of Lovato’s resume, which should have outlined her time at Bakersfield College.

Newton said he did not have a copy of the resume either.

“We would like to know how something like that could be left off the resume or slip by our hiring committee,” Moore said.

The student who wrote the article about Lovato being placed on leave, Anthony Ellrodt, is no longer at Bakersfield College, said Danny Edwards, journalism professor at BC.

Edwards said sometime after the publication of the article in the student newspaper, Lovato contacted him and requested he take the article off of their online publication. He said Lovato told him it was interfering with her attempts to obtain employment at other institutions.

“I asked the administration if I should remove the story, they told me no,” Edwards said.

Attempts to contact Lovato have been unsuccessful.

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