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Our View: Gillespie impressed in time at helm of VCCCD

By   /   Friday, August 20th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Our View: Gillespie impressed in time at helm of VCCCD

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Greg Gillespie was newly arrived as president of Ventura Community College, eight years ago, when he took the time to attend one of the first Latino Business Awards presented by Pacific Coast Business Times.

He impressed us as deeply engaged in the community and a committed educator, and four years ago he moved to the Chancellor’s post for the Ventura County Community College District. During the past four years, he’s brought stability and continuity to the three-campus district, which represents the largest post-secondary system in the region.

His announcement that he will retire at the end of the 2021-22 school year sets in motion another change in the top of leadership ranks at area campuses. It also sets the stage for more diverse leadership of a system that is far more efficient and effective than it was a decade ago.

With 35,000 students at colleges in Moorpark, Ventura and Oxnard, the district plays a key role in workforce development and career education as well as preparing students for four-year degree transfers.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work in the VCCCD community over the past eight years. We have experienced quite a journey together,” Gillespie said in the news release announcing his retirement.

Although he was perhaps slow to recognize the challenges in developing manufacturing skills training countywide, Gillespie gets high marks for working through the COVID-19 pandemic, for making the colleges better connected to the business community and for also building a culture that promotes equity and social justice.

One project for his successor will be to bring the programs at Oxnard College up to the scale of those in Ventura and Moorpark. Oxnard is the county’s largest city, yet it has the smallest of the three community colleges, and many students who live there must commute to Ventura or Moorpark for the classes they need.

A former researcher in the agribusiness industry, Gillespie brought to Ventura County an instant grasp of the role of agribusiness at the center of workforce development and demand for higher education services.

He also brought a good feel for what the business community needs from community college graduates who are entering the workforce and he’s built important bridges to corporate stakeholders.

We’re glad he’ll be sticking around to help work through the transition.

INSURANCE DISASTER AVERTED

After a few weeks of wrangling, Dignity Health and Anthem Blue Cross have reached a new multi-year contract that gives Anthem’s thousands of Central Coast customers access to Dignity Health providers and facilities.

The agreement is retroactive to July 15 when the prior contract expired, with no gap in coverage. And it will remain in place until April 30, 2025, which takes the possibility of another stalemate off the table for five years.

Dignity Health, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, is the largest hospital network in the tri-county region. It includes French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, Marian Regional Medical Center Arroyo Grande, St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and St. John’s Hospital in Camarillo.

The dispute underscores the fact that these are very large organizations which command large shares of the market in communities they serve. Blue Cross has a history of playing hardball with prices but a better way forward is to work things out well in advance of a contract expiration.

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