Dean devotes career to college family

Dr. Lee retires after 27 years of work in LAVA Division


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Library, Allied Health, Vocational Education and Athletics Division Dean Susan Lee smiles as she is introduced during the Retirement Reception at Fireside Hall on Friday.

By Anthony Kinney, News Editor

Library, Allied Health, Vocational Education and Athletics (LAVA) Division Dean Susan Lee is retiring after 27 years of devotion and commitment to the development of young children and college students at Contra Costa College this June.

Senior Dean of Instruction Donna Floyd said that for the 20 years she has known her, Dr. Lee has been fully committed to making Contra Costa College a better college for both students and staff.

As an early childhood professor prior to her time as dean, Dr. Lee used her expertise and impactful teaching techniques to affect the lives of hundreds of kids and their parents on the CCC campus.

As the LAVA dean, Lee became part of a management team that created policies and curricula that ensured that CCC students are receiving all the support they need while working toward completing their degrees in a LAVA field.

Before coming to CCC, Lee spent 16 years working as a preschool teacher and director of three childhood development centers in the Oakland Unified School District.

She said there she created programs and worked diligently to ensure the children and their parents had the education and support to grow up healthy and live thriving lives.

Lee began her career at CCC in the Early Learning Center as a part-time instructor in 1986, only working one night a week as she continued her work as director of three Oakland childhood development centers.

She left OUSD after being hired as a full-time instructor in CCC’s early childhood education department in 1989.

“I loved teaching preschool and working with kids. When I first started, it honestly didn’t even feel like work,” Lee said. “The kids are so precious. They were always a joy to be around.”

After 17 successful years touching the lives of young parents and their children with her teaching and mentoring in CCC’s Early Learning Center, Lee has spent the last 10 years as CCC’s LAVA Division dean.

During her 27 years at CCC, she said she served under six different college presidents.

Early childhood education department Chairperson Sandra Moore worked closely with Lee during the time she was a full-time instructor in the Early Learning Center, but now she values her expertise as the LAVA dean.

Moore said working with Lee for the past 10 years has been a pleasure because of her extensive experience and knowledge in childhood development and her unwavering desire to support the staff and students who rely on her.

“She cares so much about this school, but she has a really soft spot for those kids,” Moore said. “Anything the ELC needed Susan made sure we got it because she knows it’s ultimately for the children.”

Automotive services department chairperson Lucile Beatty said she has enjoyed working directly with Lee since she became full-time automotive services instructor in 2010. As the LAVA dean, Lee also evaluated Beatty throughout her tenure process.

Beatty said Lee played the role of her “go-to person” when she has been in need of support on campus and that her mentoring is what she’s going to miss the most about her.

“I always appreciated her mentoring,” Beatty said. “She (Lee) has always been there for me whenever I had an issue.

“It’s going to be a tough road continuing on without her.”

Moore said Lee has always been known to go above and beyond for the needs of her students and staff members in the departments she leads.

“She has always given me great feedback and been very supportive of the automotive department,” Beatty said.

Lee grew up in San Francisco where she attended local public schools. After graduating from Lowell High School, she went on to City College of San Francisco for two years before transferring to San Francisco State then to San Jose State.

Lee then returned to San Francisco State to obtain her master’s degree in early childhood development.

She loves to cook and bake and said she plans on spending more time cooking for friends and family during her retirement as well as traveling to new and exciting places with her husband.

Lee said CCC is a second home to her, so she plans on stay connected by serving as a member of the Friends of the Library and visiting the campus on occasion, especially the Early Learning Center.