Community Defends Laney College President Elnora Webb

President Elnora Webb

President Elnora Webb

As the news is spreading that Dr. Elnora Webb is in danger of losing her job, many local organizations and leaders are coming forward to defend the respected president of Laney College in Oakland.

 

“It is our position without hesitation or reservation that to continue the continuity and positive growth at Laney College, Dr. Webb should continue as president of Laney College,” said Dr. Herb Kitchen, president of Peralta Association of African American Affairs, who was among Webb’s supporters who spoke at last week’s Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Webb received a March 15 letter from Peralta, an official warning that her contact may not be renewed and that she may be laid off.

Called for a response, Peralta Executive Director for Communications Jeffrey Heyman said that the district cannot comment on personnel issues. Several board members said they had been warned by Peralta’s attorney not to discuss the case with the public.

A petition to Peralta Chancellor Jose Ortiz and the trustees is being circulated by the East Bay Coalition for Action.

Among the members of the coalition are the African American Chamber of Commerce, Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), NAACP Oakland Branch, National Action Network (NAN) of Oakland, Oakland Black Caucus, Faith Advisory Council, Pastors of Oakland and Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay.

“Dr. Elnora Webb’s career is in jeopardy. She is needed to remain in her leadership role as president of Laney College to maintain the continuity of its development and management,” says the petition, which is being circulated online at http://chn.ge/1mYgxSe.

According to people close to the case, there is nothing in Webb’s record to explain why Chancellor Ortiz would remove her. Her backers point to her excellent job performance and her rapport with the community.

Others are concerned that she is the only Black president remaining at Peralta’s four campuses. If she is removed, they say, there will be no African Americans in one of those top positions

“She is an extraordinary individual who is nationally regarded among her colleagues as an innovator, trailblazer and visionary leader,” Pastor Raymond Lankford, speaking at the April 8 board meeting on behalf of Pastors of Oakland and Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay.

“With the absence of transparency, we are left to believe that other factors, such as … differences in personality, may be driving the current process. We strongly urge you Chancellor Ortiz and the board to reconsider this action, ” Said BWOPA Oakland / Berkeley Chapter President Dr. Kimberly Mayfield Lynch.

Webb’s backers have already gathered nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition. On Easter Sunday, they plan to visit at least 10 churches to circulate petitions for parishioners to sign.

Other community members are also speaking out in support of the Laney president.

“I have worked with Dr. Elnora T. Webb at Laney as faculty and in the community around healing from trauma. I appreciated her ability to listen and her willingness to hold a space within the institution for collaboration and growth both students, faculty and community partners,” said Wanda Sabir.

“As a retired educator from the Peralta District and having worked with Dr. Elnora Webb in various capacities over the years, I know her to be a very articulate and astute educator, committed to Laney, the district and the greater good of the Oakland community as a whole,” said Dezie Woods-Jones, BWOPA state president, former vice chancellor at Peralta and former Oakland City Council member.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. Franklin

    Has anyone given any thought to the possibility that Dr. Webb’s continued tenure isn’t in the best interest of Laney College, especially since she’s trying to fight for it? For years the Peralta district and colleges have suffered at the hands of poor administration. As is Peralta – crappy administrators are put back into the classroom or shuffled between campuses to continue their poor management. However, Dr. Webb is a smart, attractive, and highly intelligent woman – I don’t understand why she wants to stay in a position where she is not wanted. She should know that the nature of college administration is that one (without retreat-rights) rarely has job security. And there are plenty of colleges in this state and nationwide who would love to have Dr. Webb leading their campuses. Given her credentials and experience, it is sad that she is allowing others to beg for her to remain in a position where she is not viewed (by district administration) as being effective. Dr. Webb, hold your head up high and move to a campus / district where your skills and talents will be better appreciated.

    • Jason

      Hey Franklin why you do not come over to the Board Meeting on May 13th I bet a lot of people is going to be there to support Dr. Webb would be interesting to hear somebody against her tenure and you will have the opportunity to let the boardknow what is the real feeling about her administration

  2. Hannah Chauvet

    If we wish to establish a “culture of accountability” at the Peralta Community College District, let us start by making the reasons for Dr. Webb’s possible dismissal public. True transparency is essential in matters of academic and administrative governance and we cannot hide behind lip service to privacy and legal issues.

    • Fred Bourgoin

      Reasons for an administrator’s contract not being renewed (this isn’t a dismissal) are never made public, and it is so for a reason. Why should this case be different? Personnel matters are to remain confidential (don’t we all agree on that?), and we all know that legal action almost always automatically follows. How is that hiding? I agree that Peralta needs more transparency (an “interesting” concept to bring up in this context, in my opinion), but not at the cost of violating privacy laws regarding personnel issues. Besides, I’m pretty sure that Dr. Webb knows the reasons behind Dr. Ortiz’s decision; if she had wanted to share that knowledge, don’t you think she would have by now?

  3. Michael

    Ms. Webb is very dynamic and eloquent speaker. She is inspiration to many students, staff and faculty within the Laney family. To see her go, would be a huge loss

  4. Wasuba

    It should be all about the students and student success. I wonder where all these so called community leaders were, when over the last ten years people of color have been given the shaft when it comes Financial Aid distribution at Laney College. How many, maybe thousands were discouraged, sabotaged and ill tricked by this administration. Where were your outrage then. Now we have one well known (attractive black women and well connected) elite member who is losing her job. Now we see threats and unlawful intrusions into a employer personnel issue in an “at will” state. All I see is the black elite coming to the aid of one of their own . Yet they are absent , unseen and silent when a multitude of common folks of color have been overtly impacted here at Laney College. None of them have seen the day to day performance of Dr. Webb at Laney College and the consequences of her decisions. Why have not we heard from The Laney Faculty Senate, the Laney Classified Senate, SEIU 1021and Local 39 leadership supporting Dr. Webb? We have not heard from them because there are issues that they see from the Day to Day perspective that have silenced their support for her. I think she should switch from Education to Politics. Her talent for grand Standing and Networking would serve her well.

  5. Forough Hashemi

    Dr. Webb has done excellent work and has made countless contributions to our community.

    I strongly recommend that she will be given the opportunity to continue her great efforts at Laney College.

  6. Paul Haynes

    Dr. Webb has made significant contributions to the college and community for several years. She should be treated fairly.

    Paul

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