Lee Dulgeroff, a representative of District #4, is running for a seat on the Palomar Board of Trustees. He is running against three other candidates in the district.
Dulgeroff talks about his career background, goals, issues he would like to tackle on campus, how to better connect with students, the role of The Telescope and much more.
“Palomar College has made a huge difference in my family and this is my way of giving back to the school that has given so much for us,” Dulgeroff said.
The Telescope: What is your educational and career background?
Dulgeroff: I grew up right here in North County, my family moved here when I was in fifth grade. I have deep roots here and I care deeply about all the North County communities and educating our future generations.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. I’m a Senior Executive at San Diego Unified School District and I manage a department that is committed to school planning, and construction projects that provide students with safe and secure learning environments. Everyday I work with students, teachers, parents, community members to provide high quality innovative learning environments.
I manage a successful $8.4 billion capital facilities program, and the program operates under budget with clean financial and performance audits that are independent. So I think I bring proven management experience and budgetary knowledge to the Palomar College Governing Board.
The Telescope: Why are you running and why should we vote for you?
Dulgeroff: Community colleges play a vital role in society. Especially during these challenging economic times, we need community colleges now more than ever, as people of all ages, young and old, educate themselves for the changing needs of our economy.
I support student-centered educational opportunities and debt-free community college education. I will advocate for students and give you the educational choices so you can quickly enter the workforce or transfer to universities. I want to create opportunities for students to share their ideas and provide input on the direction of Palomar College. I will listen to students and work with students to improve Palomar College to better suit your needs.
The Telescope: What is your ultimate campaign promise and/or goal?
Dulgeroff: Palomar College prepares students for higher education and plays a vital role in expanding middle-class and life-long learning opportunities. My general goals are to improve and expand education opportunities for students of all ages, balance the budget and restore long-term fiscal solvency at Palomar College, but keep education affordable for students and their families. Also, I would like to expand the connections between Palomar College, local industries and businesses in skilled trade apprenticeship programs.
The Telescope: What is your history with Palomar and why is the college important to you?
Dulgeroff: Years ago, I took classes at a community college that I couldn’t get at San Diego State. My sister became a registered nurse at Palomar and my daughter studied to become an elementary school teacher at Palomar College. I anticipate that my son, who is in 11th grade, will likely attend Palomar College. Palomar College has made a huge difference in my family and this is my way of giving back to the school that has done so much for us.
The Telescope: How much time do you spend talking to students and trying to understand their needs and concerns through conversation with them?
Dulgeroff: During these COVID-19 times I’m spending a lot of time with my family. My daughter and her boyfriend are both college students, so I learn a lot from them. When I plan and design new school facilities, we include students in our designed task-force meetings. Often our students have the best ideas and fresh perspectives on the learning space design, because they’re living it everyday.
If I’m elected, I plan to establish regular office hours to connect with students. I really want to understand your needs and your perspective on everything. Likely, in the beginning, those office hours will be on Zoom, but when things settle down and we get a vaccine, I’d love to have coffee with students and connect with them in-person on campus regularly.
The Telescope: How do you plan to maintain a strong connection with the student body after the election?
Dulgeroff: I’d like to develop student advisory committees that would help advise and guide the direction of the college in a number of areas. It would be interesting to get feedback directly from students on curricula and the budget. I think we need to let students participate and provide input in the development of the budget. For example, what are your priorities? How do they fit with the priorities of the administration? How can we align those better? I want to start and maintain office hours and create less formal discussion groups over coffee with students. I’d love to do periodical interviews or editorials on various topics of interest with The Telescope staff. I think that’s a good way to keep the students engaged and involved and connect with them, through The Telescope.
The Telescope: What do you believe is the students’ biggest problem?
Dulgeroff: I see students that are trying to balance challenging demands, a hectic pace of education, work and life. This pandemic has made things even more challenging for students. I worked my way through college, too, but these days are much more difficult for students. I can really empathize with what you’re going through right now.
I think how we can fix that [is for] Palomar to help offer classes at the right times when students need them each semester, so they can get the classes that they need and more efficiently transfer to a four-year university or start their careers. Also, I think finding that first career job in the economy is a challenge, especially these days. I think Palomar can build partnerships with local industries and companies and perhaps help place students in internships, and connect them to jobs.
Lastly, we need to make sure the curriculum is up to date and relevant with changes in the workplace. I think it’s important to make those industry connections and ensure the curriculum stays relevant.
The Telescope: What do you believe the role of The Telescope has on campus and how is it important to the school and community?
Dulgeroff: Newspapers, the news media, free press and Fourth Estate are incredibly important to a free society. By informing students, faculty, staff and the greater community on issues of importance to the college, you’re building transparency and a window into the college environment. By publicizing issues, The Telescope helps inform the public and performs an essential check and balance and oversight of college activity.
It’s a really important role, and I really connect closely with a number of friends from San Diego Unified, and they work in the communications department and many of them work for newspapers and televisions stations. One of my friends was a reporter for a major newspaper that covered the education beat before she worked for the district. When she was a reporter, I always appreciated her fair and balanced stories.
My 2018 interview with The Telescope was probably one of the best parts of that campaign. I still have a copy [of that newspaper] as a memento, I kept it because it’s part of my scrapbook, because The Telescope helped endorse my campaign, and I was really flattered by the work that you do. I think you have a really incredible, important role to play in this election and day-in and day-out. Keep doing what you’re doing in informing the public about what’s going on at Palomar.
The Telescope: How will you help improve Board relations with faculty?
Dulgeroff: I think the input from faculty is also really important, in addition to students, to guide the direction of Palomar. I’d like to expand the role of faculty and advisory committees. If elected I plan to connect regularly in office hours with faculty and staff and listen to their ideas and concerns on how to improve Palomar. We need to open the lines of communication between the [faculty, board and students].
The Telescope: How do you plan to help resolve the school’s current financial problem?
Dulgeroff: Transparency really improves the public trust and support of government agencies of all kinds. I think decisions need to be thoroughly vetted through public meetings. I mentioned that the participation of stake-holders and students [should] be welcomed and encouraged in the budgeting process. The public needs ample time to review the information and provide input to the Board because we represent them and represent you.
The Telescope: Is there anything you would like to add?
Dulgeroff: I really enjoyed meeting all of you, these are great questions. I really appreciate all the work you do in informing the students and the community. I care about Palomar students and the future of Palomar College, which is why I’m running for the Board of Trustees. I’m really passionate about education, I think education is a great equalizer and gateway to the American Dream. I want everyone, regardless of wealth or background, to have an opportunity to fulfill their goals and dreams. I think better times are ahead of us and we will get through this together and Palomar Community College will be stronger than ever.
Visit Dulgeroff’s site for more information.
- Lee Dulgeroff, 2020 election.: Photo courtesy of Lee Dulgeroff | Used With Permission