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As a student I majored in Industrial Arts and was awarded an AA Degree. As faculty I taught in the Machine Technology Department, was the department coordinator for the Manufacturing Technology Department, and now as a Dean I oversee the Technology & Engineering Division. During January 2010 to July 2011 I served as the interim Vice President of Instruction.
I was born in Orange and raised in Whittier. Fullerton College was a natural choice for me as a student and a dream come true as a place I would spend the majority of my years of professional service. I currently reside in Orange with my wife Lisa.
In 1973 a student was supposed to enroll in a community college based on one’s city of residence. I used a friend’s address in La Habra so I could qualify to attend FJC. I was drawn to FJC by the courses available, its reputation, and by the campus setting. I originally began teaching at a nearby community college and was recruited to apply at Fullerton in 1985. I jumped at the chance to transform a “sleepy” program that was out-of-date into one that has become a leader in the region.
I was a commuter student like most and held a part time job as a cabinetmaker so I didn’t have much time outside of class for campus events and activities. The activities I did participate in were often gatherings in the quad that were defined by the events of the era — Vietnam War, Richard Nixon, Watergate, and so on.
The college had a very relaxed atmosphere in the early seventies punctuated by the goings on mention above. Even though relaxed, there was a tremendous energy and awareness of politics and recognition of the relevance of environmental issues to our quality of life. It truly was an exciting place with learning taking place. That is the key theme I still see today as an administrator. The class titles have evolved, the methods of delivering instruction have evolved, we are a more diverse population, and we communicate in new ways but the learning process is still vibrant.
As a student many faculty inspired me. Richard Powell demonstrated what it meant to be a modern “Renaissance Man,” teaching me about mathematics one day and how to construct a proper wood joint the next. Lois Powers directed and motivated me to study hard and think critically in her Folklore and Mythology class and Nixson Borah challenged me in a Design and Color class by establishing high expectations and providing expert guidance on how to meet those expectations for success. President Kathie Hodge and Vice President of Instruction Elizabeth Leyson also provided inspiration when they hired me as a Dean. Their expectation and support was a significant influence on my own style and success as an administrator. Students like Sorin Darabut, Sergio Picasso, and Eduardo Perez have inspired me to do my best with students because seeing each of their individual successes has been the reminder that their own stories can be repeated.
Certainly how we communicate and the impact of computing/internet as a part of instruction represents a significant change when comparing campus life between 1973 and 2012. A significant amount of new construction in recent years has changed the face of the campus; however the campus still has much of the same “feel” as it did in the seventies. The greatest change I have observed is the broadened diversity of the campus population and the maturation of understanding we have fostered in our efforts to better understand and accept each other.
In fall 1995 a young man in his early twenties wheeled into my laboratory on the first day of class. Bob Aikens had lost most of his ability to walk as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. He wanted to learn machining and computer numerical control (CNC) programming. Providing access to industrial standard machines for someone in a wheelchair was going to present a challenge I had never faced. Bob was patient and along with others on campus we gradually found ways to accommodate him. It wasn’t easy yet Bob’s determination inspired me, a few key administrators, and his fellow students to make the necessary adjustments. Bob and I spoke frankly about how most employers were going to react to a job applicant in a wheelchair. Finally, after much frustration Bob was hired by a local company in Anaheim where he remains employed to this day. He continues to serve on our machining vocational advisory committee and is interested in possibly teaching here some day. After two major surgeries Bob has regained some of his mobility. I gained a lifetime friend, strengthened my appreciation of the Fullerton College community, and was reminded, once again, that limitations are meant to be challenged.
I recall one event in particular that unified the campus community in a profound way. Based on the early morning radio news report many of us realized something grave had occurred on the morning of September 11, 2001. I remember arriving on campus to find groups congregating to listen and watch the events unfolding. Our campus was acting like a subset of our nation and the world in how we reacted to the news. It was a very sobering experience yet there was something powerful about being with students and college staff on that morning.
I hope this advice is still appropriate 50 years from now if someone is reading this. Trust that it is of value to take the general education class in a subject that may not be your “first choice” right now. You will never be able to anticipate its potential value to you in the future. If you are a student taking courses in a career technical area trust that the classes selected for the certificate were chosen with care. Again, you may never be able to anticipate all classes’ potential value to you in the future.
The fact that I ended up teaching at Fullerton College after having been a student here just about says it all. FJC was the very best educational experience for me all the way from Kindergarten up to acquiring my Masters Degree. No other school I attended rivals the experience. Classes I took at Fullerton prepared me for success in jobs as a cabinetmaker, machinist, teacher, and so much more. The experiences here as a classroom teacher prepared me to assume a role as an administrator. All of these experiences coupled together have allowed me to enjoy a life where I look forward to coming to work each day and have provided an opportunity to associate with quality individuals found among the college staff and students.