Longtime college district employee named chancellor

Michael Claire

By the Daily Post staff

A 32-year veteran of the San Mateo County Community College District, Michael Claire, was named chancellor of the three-college district today, replacing Ron Galatolo, who is under investigation by the district attorney.

The college district’s elected Board of Trustees picked Claire following a nationwide search in which he was one of three finalists.

Claire is currently president of the College of San Mateo and has been serving as interim chancellor following the firing of Galotolo.

Last August, the Post first reported that District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office is looking into allegations of harassment and improper handling of construction contracts following bond measures in 2001, 2005 and 2014. The three measures totaled $1.068 billion.

Claire’s new salary was not disclosed. Galatolo was making $467,700 a year at the time of his firing.

Claire’s salary will be disclosed in his contract, which the Board of Trustees will consider at its next meeting on May 13.

In 1988, Claire joined the district as a faculty member and later became a dean and vice president.

Claire oversaw approximately $350 million of new construction and renovation for the College of San Mateo campus.




  1. What an extremely disappointing outcome to an opportunity for change. This SMCCD Board of Trustees lead by Karen Schwartz who appears to continue to support the under investigation former chancellor, over the hundreds of faculty, staff, service workers, and community member tax payers who voiced the need for changes and leadership. Support for other candidates appear to have gone unheard and possibly ignored by Schwartz the current president of the Board who is set to leave at years end, but her legacy seems to be that she left the District to continue on the path of being investigated for potential wrong doing, possible covering up what many tried to bring forwards, concerns of disrespect toward employees and student programs and tax payers as stated at many Board meetings. It appears that unless you were one of the chosen few of Galatolo hand picked employees you are to be ignored. Seems like a lost opportunity and a sad day in San Mateo County Communiy College District employees and community member taxpayers who were hopeful for a new leadership team. This proves there will just be more of the same.

  2. They picked Galatolo’s protege. Nothing is going to change. Nothing will improve. The same people will be ignored. Same problems will persist. The board doesn’t want to reform, it wants to circle the wagons.

  3. I have to agree with Disgruntled Taxpayer. First, there was absolutely no reason to continue the search under shelter-in-place with the college campuses closed. Some districts, like Contra Costa, have elected governance bodies who really understand their job in a democracy, which is to act with transparency and equity (See https://lmcexperience.com/news/2020/04/19/chancellor-search-halted-until-fall/).

    The rationale provided by the Board to continue the search under virus conditions was shallow and suggested they did not really care about Equal Employment Opportunity, as the two other individuals had no chance in competition to a well-known internal candidate under these conditions. As a long term academic, I wrote a two-page Public Statement to the Board to suspend the search. Rather than address my rationale point-by-point, they glossed over the issues.

    Of course, in normal times, had candidates been invited to the District and spent a day conducting a traditional campus visit at all three colleges and the District office, meeting constituents and conducting forums, they would at least have had the opportunity to be competitive against a favorite-son in the search. To decide on a chancellor via video conferencing, without allowing the campus and county community to vet individuals in-person suggests the Board was not interested in a fair fight.

    Compare that to the search done (albeit prior to the pandemic) at Berkeley for its Vice Chancellor of HR. They hired former SMCCCD Vice Chancellor Eugene Whitlock after “nearly 100 people who agreed to meet with the finalists and provide feedback through this search and interview process. There are too many names to list here, but their counsel and guidance were instrumental in achieving this successful search.” (https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/08/15/announcing-berkeleys-new-top-human-resources-administrator/).

    That seems like a thorough vetting; in contrast, SMCCCD hires a chancellor with a process that, as a cognitive psychologist and former SMCCCD administrator, no doubt was subject to both implicit and explicit bias. (I am not aware of the reason for Whitlock’s departure from SMCCCD; I was told by Galatolo that he filed the harassment suit with the DA).

    Finally, as Chancellor of Berkeley, Dr. Carol Crist’s salary is $531,939. SMCCCD paid Galatolo a little less, $467,700 plus benefits and is still paying him that salary as “Chancellor Emeritus” to do nothing until March of 2022. That is 12% less than Berkeley’s chancellor. I am sorry, those jobs have the same title, but the responsibilities are incomparable.

    Ya gotta ask whether the DA should also be investigating the SMCCCD Board of Trustees for failing to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility and poor stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Are there skeletons in their closet?

Comments are closed.