Academic Senate shifts leadership as tenure ends

After four years president position sees transition

By Cody McFarland, Associate Editor

While researching for her dissertation on second language learning Gabriela Segade found herself in need of some technical help.

The English as a second language professor’s inquiry for audio assistance put her in contact with music department Chairperson Wayne Organ that fall of 2008. Without hesitation the tall, eager and affable professor of music came out to Segade’s classroom — having never met her before, not getting paid to do so — and got down to work.

“He spent so much time helping me set up, figuring out what would be the right equipment to use,” she said.

“Years later after getting to know him I brought it up and thanked him. He didn’t even remember.”

Such moments are not typically memorable for those who regularly go out of their way to help others.

Though helping others seems to be second nature to which Academic Senate President Organ pays no mind, it is likely he has helped numerous faculty without them paying it any mind.

At the end of this semester Organ’s second term as Academic Senate president concludes and he must step down. Kinesiology department Chairperson Beth Goehring was elected by faculty to take up the presidency beginning this fall.

As any individual who has worked in proximity of Organ resounds, his assistance and contributions to Contra Costa College, noticed or not, are far-reaching and remarkable.  

“Wayne is all over the court. You can find his thumbprint on everything,” retired fine and media art professor John Diestler said.

Organ said, “I am on practically every committee. It is in the role (Academic Senate president) to be the voice of faculty.”

In his first term Organ worked tirelessly on forming a program discontinuance policy for the college district, as one had yet to be crafted.  He became chairperson of the Faculty Senate Coordinating Council, as well as communicated with hundreds of people districtwide to form a regular process regarding Title V restrictions.

In his second term Organ has dealt with much of CCC’s accreditation process, including writing the Accreditation Report intro, all of Standard I and parts of additional standards and has most recently worked to fine-tune program review, assist strategic planning and survey faculty concerning the compressed calendar decision, among other duties.

“There is nothing he can’t do,” Interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said. “He takes on really big tasks and doesn’t shy away from opportunity. He’s focused on what’s best for the college and our students.”

In her former role as district vice chancellor of education and technology, Mehdizadeh said she worked with Organ on many fronts, handling academic and formal matters.

“He’s an extremely collegial person,” she said. “I have not heard one negative comment from anyone about him.

“People trust Wayne. He’s open and ready to listen to the viewpoints of everyone at the college.”

In any shared governance group there are those who join only to build a resumé in an attempt to further their professional careers. Organ is not one of those individuals. 

“He’s got a lot of integrity,” Dr. Segade said. “He’s principled; he always tries to do the right thing: His intentions are good.”

Segade said she got to know Organ better after becoming vice president of the Academic Senate one-and-one-half years ago — a time when her “amazing mentor” worked beside her diligently to ensure she understood the many topics and processes discussed in meetings.

“He has an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm. He’s a people person,” she said.

Diestler said, “He’s clear and collaborative. He’s also a skilled percussionist.”

Organ was trained as a percussionist at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and completed his graduate work at Cal State-East Bay. He also plays some bass.

“I had too much work as president, so I couldn’t teach music,” Organ said. “I look at my two terms like a four-year sabbatical: I’m feeling refreshed and looking forward to teaching music again.”