Q: What is your educational & career background?
A: I earned my undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in aerospace engineering. I did take some community college classes while I was going to San Diego State, in fact one of my favorite professors was a community college professor who taught philosophy 101. So I studied undergraduate at San Diego State, and then I went on and got a Master’s degree in computer information systems.
I worked as a engineering and defense worker for about a decade, and then one of my former bosses reached out to me and he was working on a program to rebuild schools in San Diego, K-12 schools. He said I really need some help turning around this program, because it’s gotten behind schedule. Initially it was kind of outside my normal area of expertise but I decided to check it out and I kind of fell in love with the mission of renovating schools, designing new schools.
My family background is I have a number of teachers in my family and my wife’s family as well, so we’ve always really valued education, and I always think of education as something that really transforms the lives of people … I’ve worked [at San Diego Unified School District] designing and building new schools for the last 18 years, and really kind of transforming the teaching and learning environments there.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I’m running because I really believe in public education, I think the community college level is a place where we can transform our society and make it better. I think there is just amazing potential here at Palomar.
My daughter attended Palomar College, my sister got her nursing degree here at Palomar College, so I saw the differences it made in my own immediate family, but also my daughter’s boyfriend goes to school here now, and is looking to transfer.
I just see how important community colleges are to our society in really providing that framework and support for students who are looking to better themselves, provide themselves with a broader perspective of the whole framework of knowledge, and also getting the classes out of the way that are needed for transfer and getting it done at a reasonable cost.
Q: What is your ultimate campaign promise & goal?
A: I would like to see the school grow to better support the community and achieve its full potential. If we were to put some quantifiable metric to that, I guess it would be expanding the number of students and classes that Palomar serves.
My goal would be to help grow the college in terms of its services to the community.
Q: What separates you from other candidates?
A: I know one of the other candidates pretty well, Norma Miyamoto, I know her. I know Mark Evilsizer a little bit, I met him a few times. The other candidates I would say I don’t know very well. But in terms of my strengths, I think I’m a good listener. In terms of the achieving the goals I mentioned earlier, [I intend to] go out and actually spend time with students and th faculty and listen to what they think about how to make Palomar College a better place and how to expand the opportunities here.
So I think my strength is I will work collaboratively with all the stakeholders. In my current career, when we design a new school facilities, we don’t just go off in some corner somewhere and design something, we actually reach out. We do a process called design taskforce where all the parents and even the high school students get involved in designing the new facility or the renovated facility. We do it through the process of multiple meetings with lots of listening, and lots of interaction to make sure the facility we build ultimately exactly meets the needs of the students.
Q: What is your history with Palomar, and why is the college important to you?
A: I mentioned earlier I have some close family connections, my daughter, my daughter’s boyfriend and my sister all attended Palomar College. I have friends that either work here, or I’ve had friends that have attended school here.
So with my sister graduating from school here and becoming a nurse, and my daughter and her boyfriend, and friends and family connections, those are some of my deep connections with palomar. I just think that it’s a great transformative place to be, and I want to make it better.
Q: What is the biggest problem facing Palomar, and how would you help fix it?
A: It feels like there is disconnect. ‘Cause the last couple of Board meetings I’ve gone to, people come to the microphone and have expressed concerns about a disconnect about some of the decisions [they’re] making.
So I think the biggest challenge right now is getting everyone together, and getting the collective vision. Developing a collective vision of the college, with the input of students and faculty, and then translating that into Board actions that will propel the college forward.
Q: How will you help improve Board relations with faculty?
A: First of all, I am a big advocate of transparency and open government. I think that the public’s business should be conducted in the open. There are only a few things in specific areas that shouldn’t be conducted in the public. But for the most part, all aspects of the public’s business should be discussed and debated openly, there shouldn’t be any fear of having an open dialogue about ideas.
If I’m elected, I’m committed to openness, transparency, and as I mentioned, collaboration.
Q: How much time do you spend talking to students, and trying to understand their needs through your conversations with them?
A: Well, I’d say not enough. I do have a college student for a daughter … But I would like to spend more time on campus. I was thinking about setting up some time and a space where people can come in and share ideas about what they think will make the school better and move the school forward.
My goal, in order to talk more with students would be to have some kind of an office hour so I can learn more from you.
Q: What do you believe students’ biggest problem is, and how would you help fix it?
A: Some of the biggest challenges that I see relate to time and money. You know college is not as affordable as it was when I was in college, and I am sorry to say that we as a society need to do a better job of supporting our students by making it more affordable.
Q: Do you plan on maintaining a strong relationship with the student body after the election, if so, how?
A: I would like to have some kind of an office hour, where I’m open to meeting with the students and faculty on campus … I’m accessible to
anybody who wants to come in and have conversation.
Q: What do you believe the role of The Telescope is on campus, how is it important to the community?
A: I think newspapers and the media in general are very important, especially today. Here on Palomar College, the work that you do at The Telescope, informing the students here, and the faculty on what’s going on around campus ..
local news is probably the most important news because it really affects people directly.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: I just want to stress how important it is for community colleges to continue to thrive in our community
I’ve lived a fair amount time, but I don’t have all the answers, and I think the answers are out there amongst all of you. I think that I can hopefully be a conduit to bring everyone together, a catalyst to move us forward together. It’s definitely not about me running for this office, it’s not about me. I’m not interested in fame or fortune here, I just want to give back to the community – it’s more about making the school a better place.
- Lee Dulgeroff: Linus Smith/The Telescope | All Rights Reserved