Smiling senior businesswoman wearing glasses portrait with busin

"I hope the impactful strategies we have begun realizing through the transformation will continue. Our community expects and deserves nothing less.”

After serving the Maricopa County Community College District for nearly 28 years, Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick has announced she will step down in May 2020. 

“I have decided it is time for a new direction in my professional life,” Harper-Marinick told the governing board in a letter sent via email September 1.

“The journey has been exhilarating, challenging, and at all times rewarding thanks to thousands of colleagues committed to ensuring access to quality education and student success, and to our students who inspire us daily.”

Harper-Marinick’s announcement comes just months after the Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association issued a vote of no confidence in her leadership. In April, nine of the 10 community colleges supported the no-confidence vote, including Glendale, Estrella Mountain, Phoenix and Rio Salado. 

Matthew Hasson, the district’s director of communication and publications, said no one else was available to comment further. 

Board President Linda Thor told the West Valley View the board will take the next steps for finding a viable candidate to replace the chancellor. It is collecting internal and external input from the community and appointing a committee for the search that she said takes about six months to complete. 

A meeting is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, September 24, at the district office to discuss the search and set a timeline. 

Among the issues leading up to the vote were the chancellor’s failure to publicly defend the classified staff against the governing board’s move to eliminate the classified staff council and the collaborative policy development process; implementation of a 30-day, no-fault, no-severance-pay termination clause in the employment contracts of college presidents and vice chancellors; and minimal progress correcting chronic impediments in student enrollment processes.

According to an April letter on the faculty association’s website, Harper-Marinick’s “conspicuous silence regarding the external investigation” by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also contributed to the no-confident vote.

That investigation revealed the termination of the district’s “meet-and-confer” process, which was used to establish institutional policies regarding faculty matters and to make salary and budget recommendations to the board, was a result of partisan ideology and political ambition. 

Shortly after the AAUP shared its findings, the board passed a proposal that rescinded the changes, according to the March 2019 investigation report. 

“To believe that the chancellor was an unwilling participant in the actions taken last year, that she was not complicit in them, and that her silence did not harm the faculty, is simply a denial of the evidence,” states the letter on the faculty association’s site.

Harper-Marinick closed her September 1 letter by telling board members, “We have made significant progress and have implemented changes that will yield positive long-term outcomes. The work we do is critical to our state and to those we serve. I hope the impactful strategies we have begun realizing through the transformation will continue. Our community expects and deserves nothing less.”