Saddleback College Foundation at loss again

Jason Chung

Three years after the last permanent director left, Saddleback College still could not find a suitable replacement to lead the foundation office.

Ever since the previous director, Michelle Anstadt, left her position at the college in 2009, the Saddleback Foundation has been headhunting for a new director to lead the office.

The college came close to filling the position twice. However, one candidate received a more attractive counter-offer by another company while the other cited the difference between working for a public versus private sector as the reason for his departure after two months of employment.

“I’ll be blunt,” said Saddleback President Tod Burnett, “We don’t pay enough to get the caliber of people we are looking for to take our Foundation to where we want.”

A hiring ad posted on Philanthropy News Digest, a news service under global philanthropy database Foundation Center, on Sept. 13, 2011, showed the proposed annual salary for the position began at $88,398.

“The compensation wasn’t high enough, so we didn’t have a strong enough candidate pool,” Burnett said. “We believe that a college like Saddleback and with our community should have the absolute best Foundation director. So what we are doing now is we are going to change the position [to reflect our needs].”

Despite the millions in endowments the Foundation has received this year, Burnett was not worried that the lack of a permanent director would have any adverse effect on the foundation’s ability to function.

“The Foundation is supported by staff, by all of us, and by our fiscal sides,” said Burnett. “And remember, It’s run by a whole board of governors, which is external people in the community, so it’s doing fine.”

In lieu of a permanent director, in January the college hired an interim director, Donald Rickner, who has worked with the district for more than 30 years, to temporarily fill the position this academic year.

“We are thrilled that we have Don Rickner here,” said Burnett. “He has been with our district for so long and is probably the most well-known and most experienced foundation director in the state of California.”

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