While , the school's Board of Trustees president Laura Perry said the decision was crucial in order to keep Kinsella at the school.
"When times are good, it doesn't matter who your president is because you can afford to make mistakes," Perry said. "But when it's critical and every single dollar counts, it becomes vital who's the president."
In two 6-1 votes— and the other June 12—the board approved the raise that will bring Kinsella's base salary to $276,090 by December 31, 2015. He must stay with the school until then and, if he does, will receive a $31,500 payout from a deferred compensation account.
The trustees’ rational for the raise was based on Kinsella's position as one of three finalists for the chancellorship of the West Valley-Mission Community College District (WVMCCD). In fact, Kinsella's new salary matches the starting chancellor salary at the WVMCCD.
Perry said trustees wanted to meet the WVMCCD salary to keep Kinsella from taking the job.
"I knew he would be selected," she said. "There was no doubt. Other colleges have been trying to recruit him for years."
Becoming a chancellor would've been a step up for Kinsella, Perry noted, but one that would have left Gavilan scrambling to find someone with his financial forbearance.
She said that under Kinsella, Gavilan hasn't been forced to lay off staff, enjoys a balanced budget and healthy reserve and has maintained its summer classes—a service many surrounding community colleges have cut—while adding more regular session classes and expanding programs.
"Because of his expertise and what he's done with the budget at Galivan, we have to keep him," she said. "Yes, it costs something when everyone is fighting to have him, but we had to do what is in the best interest of the college."
A "Different Situation"
Perry said she’s at a loss for words when she hears Gavilan shouldn't be upping salaries in a time when other institutions are reducing staff, cutting school days and increasing class sizes, .
"I don't get the argument that if the GUSD is having problems, we shouldn't pay people at our district," she said. "It's impossible to compare the two because they are different budgets and have different funding structures. They are different all together."
Critics, she suggested, should study Gavilan's budget before assuming the college can't afford pay hikes.
"If we were laying off people and cutting classes and then we gave [Kinsella] a raise, then people would have something to be outraged about," she said.
Kinsella, who did not return calls for comment, has been compared to "a Wall Street crook who got a bonus," Perry said. However, she said she's yet to hear a complaint from anyone at the college.
Gavilan has , allowing it to fair better than most in a time when required state education funding is sent out as IOUs.
Kinsella, Perry said, was able to balance the school's budget within one year of taking office 10 years ago and has continued to display vital fiscal foresight. The college needs a captain, she explained, who can keep Gavilan sailing as the state remains an unreliable source of funding.
“We don’t want someone who is mediocre, where we have to constantly worry about fixing our budget,” she said. “We want to focus on keeping classes accessible to our students, growing our programs and getting grant money. We didn’t want to end up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars just to save $40,000.”