The Advocate

Lack of campus liaisons foster divide in community relations

Alondra Gallardo / The Advocate

Alondra Gallardo / The Advocate

By Editorial Board

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Over the past year, the Contra Costa Community College District has continued what some see as a disturbing trend of decreasing the number of people of color in leadership positions at Contra Costa College.

On Thursday, CCC President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh announced she would be returning to her old post at the District Office, effective March 15, as executive vice chancellor of education and technology, a position she held for a decade before coming to CCC.

The change comes on the heels of both former vice president of academic and student affairs Tammeil Gilkerson and dean of student services Vicki Ferguson leaving CCC to assume leadership roles in the nearby Peralta Community College District.

CCC also was forced to replace former senior dean of instruction Donna Floyd after her retirement last year.

Change is inevitable, but when the changes leave the CCC administration more out of touch with the students and the community it serves, it can’t be seen in any other way than problematic.

Most of the selections hired to fill these voids have minimal connections to the campus or the community — and it shows.

One is a chancellor’s appointment, one a Plan B hire and two were handed their positions in less than transparent conditions.

This isn’t shared governance.

Although race is not the sole determining factor in selecting the ideal candidate, only one of the replacement administrators is a person of color.

As administrators change, some feel the shift will further widen the gap between the college and the diverse community it serves.

Mehdizadeh’s interim replacement, retired Santa Monica College president/superintendent Dr. Chui L. Tsang, appointed to the position by (district) Chancellor Fred E. Wood, has only a minimal connection to the students he will be charged to serve.

Floyd’s successor, former Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill) dean of biological and health sciences, physical sciences and engineering Tish Young, and Gilkerson’s successor Ken Sherwood, who served as vice president of academic affairs and student learning at Oxnard College in Southern California, had no ties to the West Contra Costa County community prior to their hiring last summer.

Ferguson’s stand-in, Interim Dean of Student Services Dennis Franco, who has served as dean of enrollment services for two years, was appointed in January and can’t be expected to continue on as enrollment dean while serving as dean of students.

So, who in the upper administration is left for students to trust?

The shift away from community engagement comes as no surprise judging by the direction district officials continue to steer campus leadership.

The empathetic ear Mehdizadeh used to address problems on campus might be a thing of the past.

In 2012, during a budgetary crisis, Tsang supported the proposal of a two-tiered course system where students taking core classes would be charged more per course during winter and summer intersessions.

Currently, CCC is experiencing its own budgetary crisis and while Mehdizadeh may have a soft spot for the community, Tsang may be the cold-hearted cost-cutter the district wants.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Lack of campus liaisons foster divide in community relations”

  1. Don Gosney on February 21st, 2018 6:24 pm

    Just curious–do you have any suggestions for how to fix this “problem”? Would you institute some sort of quota system? A residency requirement? Maybe require staff to have come from this community or to have recently attended CCC?

    You write: “So, who in the upper administration is left for students to trust?” This suggests that whomever is hired to serve in these positions that doesn’t meet your standards is unworthy of trust. Is this what you meant?

    Didn’t Dr. Chui L. Tsang attend CCC from 1971-1973? Yes, that was a long time back and things have changed but will you now require that applicants have ties to this community dating back no earlier than XXXX?

    How about an age requirement? Because Dr. Tsang is older, how can he possible relate to young people and what they need?

    Can only “a person of color” serve the needs of this community? What would you say if this was reversed and this community had very few minorities but they tried to hire “a person of color” to serve in administration? Would you bar that applicant because they weren’t white enough because only a white person can serve the needs of white people? Do you have any idea how this sounds?

    Just how many ways would you suggest that we discriminate when applicants are screened? What is there about EQUAL rights that is so difficult to understand? As the Supreme Court proclaimed in the Bakke Decision forty years back: “Discrimination for one group is discrimination against another group.”

  2. Don Gosney on February 21st, 2018 6:27 pm

    It’s strange, I had a detailed response to this editorial that disagreed with virtually every point made but your site won’t allow me to post it because it claims that “I’ve already said that”–when I have not.

    It’s almost as if The Advocate has a filter that won’t allow dissenting comments to be posted. But that’s stupid, isn’t it?

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.
Lack of campus liaisons foster divide in community relations