The Ventura County Community College District has taken a big step forward with the hiring of Greg Gillespie as its permanent chancellor.
Gillespie, president of Ventura College since 2013, knows the area and its politics, he has a proven track record and he’s extremely familiar with workforce needs in critical industries such as agribusiness, technology and transportation.
It’s easy to forget that with 31,000 students and community college campuses in Oxnard, Ventura and Moorpark, VCCCD is the largest institute of higher education in the Tri-Counties. It has been under interim leadership since 2015 with Bernard Luskin, a capable and experienced administrator at the helm while also looking to retire.
Luskin and Gillespie have had plenty of opportunity to get to know each other. Luskin, who lives in Moorpark, initially was recruited to helm both Oxnard and Moorpark colleges on an interim basis before taking over as chancellor.
These have been difficult years for the community college system. Deep budget cuts, falling enrollment and enrollment caps, demands for new skills and rising costs have put them in a squeeze.
But Gillespie is inheriting a system that is on the upswing. Under Superintendent Stan Mantooth, improved science, math and engineering classes in Ventura County high schools are making the transition to community college academically easier.
Ventura College Challenge scholarships and counterparts at other campuses are opening up the community college experience to new populations without the burden of heavy student debt. CSU Channel Islands, still in its second decade of operations, provides a path to bachelor’s degrees that did not exist 20 years ago.
Gillespie takes over on July 1 and he has plenty of time to get up to speed on his new job. He lives in Ventura, so the transition should be an easy one.
Luskin, who has a private practice in psychology and who likes to write for professional journals, will be in Ventura County to offer informal advice.
Seeing the Ventura County Community College District make a smooth transition to permanent leadership bodes well for higher education throughout the region and for the regional economy in the long run.
EXPENSIVE LAPSE IN JUDGMENT
San Luis Obispo put an embarrassing incident behind it on April 10 when it disciplined City Manager Katie Lichtig and Fire Chief Garret Olson over a video shown at the annual SLO Chamber of Commerce gala in January.
The spoof video involved cross-dressing and a bit of banter about the sex appeal of firefighters, which a few firefighters found offensive.
Yes, it was in poor taste and civil servants should know better than to think they are as capable as the cast of Saturday Night Live or Parks and Recreation.
Lichtig and Olson have been disciplined, forfeited some pay and apologized for poor judgment. They are smart people who made a mistake.
But the city of SLO invested $70,000 of taxpayer money to pay lawyers to investigate the matter. That strikes us as outrageous.