Fresh faces breathe life into campus


Cindy Pantoja / The Advocate

Liberal Arts Division Dean Jason Berner (background) and acting President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh address faculty and staff at the All-College Day event held in GE-225 on Aug. 23.

By Cindy Pantoja, Editor-in-Chief

While Contra Costa College struggles to get some sense of stability, the fall semester is well underway and features an array of new non-student faces around campus.

Even though the top positions of president and vice president remain vacant, there are about 24 new faculty and staff hires who have been either promoted from within the college or are joining CCC as first time or full-time hires.

“Over the summer, we hired three interim deans and we still have other dean positions vacant,” acting President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said. “Vacant are the dean of workforce and economic development, vice president and the president positions.”

New hires and position changes include professors, classified staff and administrative positions.

New classified staffers include Student Senior Program Coordinator Linsay Arentz,; International, Campus Facilities Assistant Antoine Askew, Admissions and Records Assistant Pam Brooks,

Presidential Office Senior Executive Assistant Joy Brucelas and Account Clerk Emma Espinosa.

The hires also include custodian Brandon Favorite, Senior Administrative Assistant Seretha Gallard, Retention Program Assistant Jenna Hornbuckle, Program Assistant Riley Johnson,

Instruction Athletics Counselor Jessica Lopez, Athletics Trainer Lisa Martinez, Retention Senior Program Coordinator Carla Matute and Campus Custodial Manager William Tandongor.

Some professors are new to campus and others have been working as a part-time professor for a few years. Professorial positions that have been filled include math professor Perry Joseph Aliado, early childhood education professor Brianne Ayala, chemistry professor Jason Lau, ESL professor Danitza Lopez, nursing professor Susan Priano, speech professor Steve Robertson and media arts professor Rece Romus.

English professor Brandon Marshall also has been hired as a full-time, tenure-track professor after working as a part-time teacher at CCC and San Francisco State University for almost 10 years.

“I don’t miss the commute,” Marshall said. “In reality, it is all about stability. As a full-time professor now, I feel like I belong here. Before I was torn over serving two different institutions, two different populations. I just have to focus on building one foundation now.”

Administrative positions that have been filled include Library, Allied Health, Vocational Education and Athletics (LAVA) Division Interim Dean Sandra Moore, Enrollment Services Interim Dean

Rod Santos, Natural Social and Applied Science (NSAS) Division Interim Dean Ameer Thompson and Academic Senate Council President Katherine Krolikowski.

Some of the administrative positions were vacant for months, such has been the case for dean of enrollment services.

Santos said the world of public higher education has changed drastically in the past two decades.

He also said as a first-generation college graduate working at a community college, he wants to help students to achieve their higher education.

“I have worked in a multitude of different areas in student services and I’ve always looked at equity, diversity and social justice. I like serving our community college,” Santos said.

NSAS Division Interim Dean Ameer Thompson is new to CCC, but he is a Richmond native.

He visited the campus frequently and previously participated as a guest speaker in a STEM Café.

Thompson said his experience as a Diablo Valley College student and his work at other college institutions helps him understand that students want the best opportunities possible to learn.

He wants to help students achieve their academic goals whether it’s transferring or getting an associate degree.

“I think if I’m going to serve people, I need to know the people first. You can’t serve anyone without knowing what they need,” Thompson said.

Academic Senate President Katherine Krolikowski has been working at CCC as a faculty member for 12 years. She became its president July 1.

“I’m really glad to help CCC move forward. In reality, the Academic Senate is very much about ensuring quality teaching and being involved in the decisions that directly affect the way that we teach,” Krolikowski said.

CCC is currently going through a difficult phase where changes happen often, but these transitions will only help campus become a better place to learn, she said.