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Third generation Californian; moved from Sanger, CA to Fullerton in June 1955 because of my youngest brother’s health issues.
As a 1961 Fullerton High School graduate, my dream was to attend Fullerton College. In August 1961, I elected to postpone my dream because of the “Berlin Crisis” and joined the United State Air Force, serving 5 ½ years of active duty. I was discharged in Dec. 7, 1966 and started my dream in January 1967. As an active student organization leader, I was approached by Dr. Borst, then Asst. Dean of Instruction, and asked to lead a special outreach/tutoring student services program. I was hired in July of 1969, and as I earned my respective degrees was offered the opportunity to be a classified staff member, counselor/instructor and administrator, retiring in June 2007, as the Dean of Student Services and serving one year as interim Vice-President of Student Services. It was never an question of choice, but more of one of destiny, given the social conditions in our society and what was happening locally.
In general, my area was student services. I worked as a coordinator, director, counselor, instructor and administrator. I wrote multiple grants, which were funded.
The 1960’s were challenging for a number of reasons. The premise of the challenges was the need for social change in our society and infrastructure with the expectation of access and equity. Fullerton College was viewed as extremely conservative and the reality was that it was, given the education policies and practices. My interests and commitment was, is and will continue to be the same; access and equity.
As a student, there were several faculty members who were very influential in my learning experience. As a professional, I learned that academia was more than just an institution of higher learning. It was a vehicle of great influence and culture development and practices; both in the classroom and in the campus political arena. Dr. Wheeler, was my unofficial mentor, and I learned from him how to “survive” in academia. I must admit that I developed close relationships with many of my staff members and a few of my colleagues. However, because my definition what constitutes a “friend” I can state that I only had a few friends whom I could confide and share successes and frustrations. I did have many, many associates and developed great working relationships, both with on campus and off campus folks, especially in what was identified as Region VIII.
The biggest change has been the student demographics. When I enrolled at Fullerton College, the majority of students were White males, well over 60%. The ethnic minority student population was less than 6%. Aside from the changes in student population, the most significant change, which can be interpreted in multiple of ways , was the advent of faculty and staff unions. The unions evolved into a very real and effective political force, which has influenced the direction of the College and to a great degree, its shortcomings when student success and institutional effectiveness are addressed.
Quite candidly, because of the campus climate and the anti-diversity practices by many in the infrastructure, I experienced many challenges which provided great opportunities for me to influence change and create a more embracing atmosphere. The fundamental challenge in any institution, especially in academia is addressing tradition and the preservation efforts toward that end. As the Dean of Student Services, one of my responsibilities was student discipline. I recall one case that involved mass student cheating in a classroom. The instructor forwarded a report and recommended that 15 of his 17 students be expelled; a very serious consequence. I advised the instructor that I would apply due process and conduct my informal hearing with each student. I will not get into all the details, but in my investigation I found that the instructor had contributed to a long-term problem; student cheating. The instructor had the practice of leaving the classroom whenever he gave a test and did not return until the allowed time had elapsed. I formally informed that because of his practice, which was in violation of the Education Code, I was not going to expel l the students. As expected the instructor was furious and made serious threats, which I expected. He claimed that he had been doing this practice for over 25 years and that no one told that he was in violation of the Ed. Code. I quietly informed him that for 25 years he had violated the Ed. Code and that a practice does not validate a policy. He made some serious allegations and that he would get back to me. After two months, the instructor returned to my office, knocked on my door, I invited him in and he refused. He extended his hand and stated that he came to apologize because he had checked the Ed. Code and found that he was in violation and that he would correct his practice. Oddly enough, our professional relationship was enhanced and whenever he wished to make a change in his classroom practices he would contact me and ask me to review the proposed change. My ultimate point is that in academia the concept of tradition is validated via a practice and it is viewed a policy, which is more common than what folks wish to admit.
My advice to students is realize your educational dream, but understand that it is not an easy process. One will experience many challenges, educationally and personally, but that is part of the process. Accept the fact that failure is part of the process and not the ultimate outcome. Failure or shortcomings should be viewed as “stepping stone” toward one’s ultimate goal. Additionally, the higher learning experience and success is the formal “stepping stone” to attain the career of one’s choice and one needs to learn how to have a successful interview, which paramount in the final transition of one’s higher education experience.
Life isbrief and one must apply and share applicable knowledge with those who are willing to learn and apply the same philosophy with those them come in contact with in their respective careers.
MA/Sociology; Ed. D/ Community College Administration
1969-2007, Classified, Faculty, Administrator