Thursday, October 18 , 2018, 9:28 am | Fair 62º

 
 
 
 

Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees Censures New Member

Resolution citing disapproval of Dan Hilker's actions also affirms support for Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers and administration

Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to censure board member Dan Hilker, far right. Also pictured are board member Hilda Zacarias and board president Gregoary Pensa. Not pictured are board members Jeffery Hall and Larry Lahr. Click to view larger
Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to censure board member Dan Hilker, far right. Also pictured are board member Hilda Zacarias and board president Gregoary Pensa. Not pictured are board members Jeffery Hall and Larry Lahr. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees took the unusual step of censuring one of their own Tuesday night just months after he joined the panel.

The action against Dan Hilker stemmed from complaints against him, leading to an investigation and the resolution unanimously adopted Tuesday night. The resolution is believed to be a first in the college's history.

Even Hilker voted for the resolution — after apologizing for his missteps.

“Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Trustees of Allan Hancock College formally states its disapproval of actions taken by Trustee Hilker in regard to treatment of college staff members and offers a statement of support for the Superintendent/President and the entire administrative team in recognition of the work done over the past four years that has led to the college’s growing reputation as one of the best colleges in the nation,” Board President Greg Pensa said.

“The Board further resolves to support the Superintendent/President and the entire campus community by operating as a unit to further our service to our students and community.”

Upon learning of the complaints against Hilker during the evaluation of Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, the board appointed an ad hoc committee of two members to investigate.

Though nothing specific was cited during the open session of Tuesday's meeting, the committee found Hilker violated the Standards of Practice — the hallmark of a community college trustee, the resolution noted — that he swore to uphold, including that a member should not act in place of the board, shall represent the entire community, must understand that day-to-day operations are handled by the superintendent/president, and should protect the dignity of individuals.

Dan Hilker, a new member on the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees, was censured by his colleagues Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Dan Hilker, a new member on the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees, was censured by his colleagues Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Standards of Practice also call upon board members to “respect the office and in no way misuse the power inherent in the office.”

The censured board member represents the southeast area of Santa Maria and was elected to a four-year term in November 2016 after unseating long-time incumbent Tim Bennett.

Hilker, who attended and taught at Hancock’s Law Enforcement Training Academy, is a retired UCSB police officer. He also has opened and operated Santa Maria Brewing Company.

“I absolutely agree with my compatriots here on the board for disapproving of my action,” Hilker said during the meeting. “I have to say that the passion and vehemence I came to this job with overrode some of the things I should have thought more about.

“I’ve always been very passionate about this school,” Hilker said. “I ran a very passionate campaign also. I apologize for the missteps I took and pledge to not have that be the way I conduct myself in the future.”

Board members said they appreciated Hilker’s apology and were eager to put the discord in the past.

“In the short time I’ve been on the board, I’ve met a few people around the state and they look up to us at Allan Hancock. We’re envied in the state so we want to keep this going,” said Trustee Jeffery Hall.

The Allan Hancock College board affirmed its support for Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers during Tuesday’s meeting and approved a one-year contract extension to 2021. Click to view larger
The Allan Hancock College board affirmed its support for Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers during Tuesday’s meeting and approved a one-year contract extension to 2021.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

During the discussion about censuring Hilker, board members affirmed their support for Walthers and the college’s administration.

“I often tell people the most brilliant thing I’ve done as a trustee is to vote yes when we hired him,” said Trustee Larry Lahr, who has served on the board for more than two decades.

Student Trustee Carson Link, who wasn’t involved in closed door discussions, likened Walthers’ to Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

“He’s almost a mythical figure to students,” Link said. “Everyone knows who he is even if they’re not involved with leadership or anything.”

In an earlier closed session, the board voted to approve a one-year extension for Walthers’ contract which now will expire in 2021.

Additionally, the board agreed Walthers would receive 18 months severance pay, instead of 12 months, if the contract is terminated without cause.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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