Former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard is stepping down from the Clark College Board of Trustees.
The announcement comes after several contentious months between the college and its faculty union, the Clark College Association of Higher Education. The college and union are in the midst of collective bargaining over salaries, and Pollard has gained a reputation for colorful outbursts at trustee meetings targeting union members.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Pollard. “Their demands are outrageous.”
Still, Pollard said his decision to step down has nothing to with the ongoing bargaining.
“I’ve been on the board for nine years, and I’m tired,” said Pollard. “Hell, I just turned 80 years old. I need to pay attention to my family.”
Pollard, who most recently served as board chair, was appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2010. His term was slated to end in 2021. Vice Chair Jane Jacobsen will serve as chair in the meantime. He issued his resignation on May 20 to be effective at the end of May.
Pollard said he needs to take care of his wife, who is in poor health, and spend more time with his children and grandchildren.
College spokeswoman Kelly Love reiterated that Pollard’s decision has nothing to do with recent board meetings or bargaining. Pollard has butted heads with union members in meetings, most recently calling out union President Kim Sullivan on May 22 for her six-figure salary.
He also told union members in January that if they didn’t travel to the state Legislature to advocate for new money for salary increases, “then shame on you.”
Pollard’s decision also comes within months of President Bob Knight’s retirement from the college. Knight, who is leaving Clark College after 13 years as its president, praised Pollard as a committed community leader. Pollard ended a long U.S. Army career as Commander of the Vancouver Barracks and served as Vancouver’s mayor from 1996 to 2010. He was named Clark County’s First Citizen in 2010.
“Royce has a long record of service to our country, our community and our college,” said Knight in a college news release. “He’s a steadfast and impassioned leader who has been instrumental in the growth of this community and this college. I think we all respect and honor his decision to put his family’s needs first.”
Pollard said he always intended to leave shortly after Knight, and he said it’s crucial that the new board member be there in time to help select his replacement. In his resignation letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Pollard urged the governor to appoint a replacement before June 12, when the five-member board is tentatively slated to appoint an interim president.
“This is critical that we have the right kind of person on that board for the future,” Pollard said.
Finding a replacement on such a short timeline seems unlikely; Love said it can take months to appoint a new trustee. The board is slated to conduct interviews with interim presidential candidates next week.
Still, Clark College’s to-do list in the coming months is long. The college has requested a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Committee to help in union negotiations, and while trustees are not on the college’s bargaining team, they must ultimately approve the collective bargaining agreement. The board must also appoint a permanent president to replace Knight over the next year. Clark College announced in May that it selected Gold Hill Associates at a cost of $45,000 plus travel expenses to recruit a new president.