May 31, 2012
Embattled City College administrator Dr. David Hotchkiss was placed on paid administrative leave today by interim Chancellor Pamela Fisher pending an investigation into his recent conduct after telling press the school had network security vulnerabilities that put thousands of students’ personal data at risk.
Hotchkiss, the college’s Chief Technology Officer, was informed not to step foot on campus without express permission from Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein, confirmed College Board Trustee and President John Rizzo.
“It looks like David Hotchkiss was suspended, and that’s all I know,” Rizzo said. Rizzo could not discuss specifics of the Board’s closed door session or about personnel matters but confirmed Hotchkiss’ suspension was discussed by the Board, Fisher and senior staff.
Hotchkiss, who is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, refused to comment. Other officials were similarly tight-lipped.
Previous administrators who were placed on paid leaves of absence include Mark Robinson, who was later demoted, and James Blomquist, who was later charged with several felony counts.
The Board held a closed meeting on May 24 and discussed the dismissal of three college employees. No Board members have yet confirmed if one of the three employees discussed was Hotchkiss.
Doug Re, a senior manager in the technology department that Hotchkiss heads, also confirmed Hotchkiss’ suspension.
“There was a meeting with [Information Technology] managers around ten o’clock, and Peter Goldstein told us that [Hotchkiss] was suspended, pending an investigation,” Re said. Re also said the managers weren’t given a time-frame and exactly what the college is investigating isn’t yet clear.
The Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, and other administrative officials did not return calls before press time. The reasons for the investigation into Hotchkiss may not be stated, but the college has a more than its share of issues to pick from.
After speaking with the Chronicle, Hotchkiss sent a thick, hundred-plus page document (and cover letter) of what he claims was evidence of misconduct to the Board. The packet accuses Vice Chancellor Goldstein of destruction of evidence during an FBI investigation, and former Chancellor Don Griffin of misleading the public.
“If those are the allegations, they are completely wrong, and very reckless,” Goldstein said shortly after the allegations were leveled. He said he had not seen the full text of the accusations at the time of the interview.
Hotchkiss’ packet also contained a reprimand of Network Manager Tim Ryan, who said in an interview that Hotchkiss hadn’t followed the usual disciplinary procedures.
“I think the document has some problems, inaccuracies, outright falsehoods. It’s like half facts, half innuendo,” Rizzo said, referring to the packet Hotchkiss copied to Board members. “It’s kind of wild.”
Athena Steff, president of SEIU Local 1021, the union that represents City College staff and all of Hotchkiss’ IT department employees, presented a petition of “no confidence” to the Board during its February 23 meeting. The petition states SEIU believes Hotchkiss is not fit for his job as the head of the ITS department.
The petition, signed by over 500 City College community members, was delivered amidst roaring cheers with more than 50 SEIU members in attendance.
The petition drive was first reported by the college newspaper, The Guardsman.
When asked about the petition, then-Chancellor Griffin said he had never in his entire career at the college seen a petition of “no confidence” outside of normal evaluation procedures.