This election season some Fullerton residents will be voting to fill the seat on the North Orange County Community College District (NOCCCD) Board of Trustees (District 4) that was vacated by long-time trustee Molly McClanahan last year. The district includes Fullerton and Cypress Colleges.
NOCCCD is governed by seven elected trustees who establish all policies that guide the general operation of the District. The Chancellor has responsibility for carrying out the decisions and directions of the Board. The college Presidents and Provost of the School of Continuing Education oversee the operations of their respective areas and work closely with the Chancellor in the management of the District.
Here is a map of the NOCCCD trustee areas:
In order to better inform voters, we reached out to the two candidates running to fill the District 4 seat with a series of questions meant to hi-light their priorities and vision of the local community college district which includes tens of thousands of students. We asked them to limit their answers to 100 words. Here’s what they had to say.
1.) Briefly introduce yourself and explain your qualifications for serving on the NOCCCD Board of Trustees.
Rosales: My name is Evangelina Rosales. As a community college professor, a graduate of Cypress College, and a longtime homeowner in Fullerton, I know from experience the needs of instructors, students, parents, and the community. My life and my work embody all of these roles. In addition, as a small business owner, I also have firsthand fiscal management experience.
Alvarez: I am a 20-year resident of Fullerton and a product of our schools. I graduated from Fullerton College and UCLA earning my degree in political science and policy. I have focused my career in higher education, holding positions in the UC system, California Community Colleges, and in EdTech. I created partnerships between K-12, Community Colleges, UC’s/CSU’s to build academic programs and pathways for students. I served on statewide/national committees for community college student success, UC admissions, and student equity. I’ve built industry pathways for students at technology companies like Google. I will bring this experience to our Board.
2.) Why do you want to serve on the NOCCCD Board of Trustees? What do you see as your primary role on the Board?
Rosales: I want to move forward policies that increase access to higher education, support programs that help student completion, and protect job-training programs.
Alvarez: Being the first in my family to attain a college education allows me to bring a firsthand experience of the challenges our students face. I have experience in managing large public budgets and have worked on higher educational policy in California. I want to be an asset to our Board and bring innovative solutions that will prepare our students for the global workforce. My primary role as Trustee is to assure fiscal health and stability of our district, evaluate/monitor institutional performance, evaluate educational quality, and ensure accreditation standards compliance. I will build partnerships with our cities, businesses, nonprofits, and universities.
3.) How do you view the relationship between the NOCCCD and the local High School Districts?
Rosales: Collaborative efforts between NOCCCD and the local high schools districts has been in place. Efforts must be made to close the gaps with programs that support student transitioning from high school to community college–to assure that students who transfer into university have the support of programs to assure quality education for our student completion.
Alvarez: The district’s role is to ensure our high school students and families have access to academic and community programs. We must have partnerships with our high school districts to provide students with the opportunity of dual/concurrent enrollment (taking college courses as a high school student). We must collaborate with the faculty/teachers of the high schools and community colleges to share student outcomes and best practices on the performance of students entering our colleges from the high school district. With the North Orange County Promise Program and Anaheim Pledge, I see our partnerships deepening and strengthening on student success.
4.) Who are you endorsed by?
•Gil Cisneros, U.S. Representative
•State Assemblywoman, Sharon Quirk-Silva
•Tammy Kim, Irvine City Councilmember
•United Faculty of North Orange County Community College District
•California School Employees Association Chapter 167
•MJ Noor, The Parents’ Voice USA
•Sal Tinajero, former Santa Ana City Councilmember, Candidate for Trustee RSCCD
•Aaruni Thakur, Fullerton School District Trustee
•Fullerton City councilmember Jesus Silva
•Dr. Chester Jeng, Trustee for Fullerton Joint Union High School District
•Steven Blount, Trustee NOCCCD Area 3
•Dr. Mosqueda-Ponce Cypress College Professor Puente Program Coordinator
•Democratic Party of Orange County
•NOCCCD Adjunct Faculty United
•California Federation of Teachers
•Orange County Labor Federation
•Molly McClanahan Fmr. Area 4 NOCCCD Trustee,
•Barbara Dunsheath, NOCCCD Trustee Area 1
•Jackie Rodarte, NOCCCD Trustee Area 5
•Ed Lopez NOCCCD Trustee Area 2
•Fullerton City Council Member Ahmad Zahra
•Fullerton School District Trustees Hilda Sugarman and Janny Meyer
Fullerton Joint Union High School District Trustees Joanne Fawley and Andy Montoya (Board President)
•Fullerton Community Members: Dr. Vicki Calhoun, Pam Keller, Monika Broome, Jose Trinidad Castaneda, Josh Newman
•La Habra City Council: Rose Espinoza Mayor Pro Tem, Jose Medrano Council Member La Habra City School Board: Adam Rogers
•Neighbors United for Fullerton (NUFF)
5.) What are some of the biggest challenges facing the district?
Rosales: The current COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus some of the future challenges NOCCCD faces. We need to ensure that NOCCCD students have access to technology and receive the educational tools they need to be competitive in the changing workplace of tomorrow.
1.) Public health and COVID-19: opening schools safely, student access to technology, protecting staff and faculty with PPE and supplies.
2.) Student housing and food insecurity experienced by our vulnerable populations.
3.) California budget cuts that will impact academic offerings, student services, and programs.
4.) Providing faculty and staff dependent health coverage.
5.) Adjunct faculty (part-time) employment pathways to a full-time position.
6.) What distinguishes you from your opponent?
Rosales: What distinguishes me is that I am a community college professor with years of classroom experience. My children graduated from Fullerton College and I graduated from Cypress College. My family has been settled in Fullerton for 26 years and has a long history as active members of the community. My experience as a professor has allowed me to view firsthand the needs of instructors, students, parents, and the community because I embody and live all of these roles. As a business owner, I also have firsthand fiscal management experience.
Alvarez: The expertise that I bring to the position distinguishes me. I have served in creating educational policy, managing multi-million dollar budgets, administering grant initiatives, and improving academic quality across the UC system and community colleges. I have experience in governance, finance, managing taxpayers investments, and higher education operations and accreditation. The endorsements I hold are bipartisan and our community stands behind me. My opponent has not been endorsed by organizations and community members we both sought. It is critical that we have an experienced Trustee who focuses on the needs of our students and financial prudence for taxpayers.
7.) If elected, what are your top priorities?
Rosales: If elected, my priorities are to support Career Technical Education for jobs. I also feel strongly about technology equity to help move Fullerton forward. Another priority is to recognize and help other board members to recognize the Board role for fiscal oversight of the public funds allocated to the district. Our students deserve to have a Board with their interests at the forefront, not administration’s interest. Finally, I will work to close the achievement gap and prioritize programs that provide college access, support, and help students complete their degree.
•Improve student success and graduation rates through technology and innovation.
•Ensure transparency and accountability over the districts budget and bond projects.
•Prepare students for 21st century jobs through workforce partnerships and career education.
•Reduce student homelessness and hunger.
8.) Do you think adjunct faculty are treated fairly, as compared to full time faculty? If not, what needs to change?
Rosales: The Board of Trustees is charged with representing the best interests of the District as a whole. All employees must feel valued in order to have a positive and inclusive District culture.
Alvarez: Adjunct faculty are treated unfairly due to their employment status. Many achieve graduate degrees with insurmountable debt and little opportunity for a full time position. Part time faculty are working at three to four colleges which lowers the academic quality of instruction for our students. They do not have access to medical benefits and face housing/food insecurity. We need to evaluate budgeting and administrative bloat and ensure we are budgeting for full time faculty positions for our adjuncts. We will need to institute a fellowship program with our part time faculty to accelerate their hiring into a full time position.
9.) Do you feel the district is doing enough to address the needs of low income and underserved students? What ideas do you have to help these students succeed?
Rosales: For first-generation students like myself, the community college allows us to affordably access the American Dream. But, evidence shows us that cost of living in California has gone up exponentially since I attended Cypress College. Students face food and housing insecurity at alarming numbers. I would like to see the creation of a center for disadvantaged students, that would be a place they could get a range of help. As a mother and professor, I understand the challenges parents face in meeting the costs of a college education and have worked extensively with low income and underserved student needs firsthand.
Alvarez: Underserved students face disadvantages that require investment to close the opportunity/resource gap for all. I was one of these students who attended Fullerton College. We must continue to invest and expand services such as:
•Provide academic/career counseling.
•Reduce the cost of a higher education and provide financial resources.
•Increase academic workshops and interventions by leveraging technology.
•Investment in professional development and hiring of staff and faculty.
•Partner with private sector industries to fund student internships and college education.
•Educational partnerships with K-12 and four year universities to share data and best practices and resources for student success.
Like all political candidates, Rosales and Alvarez are required to disclose any campaign contributions they have received. As of their latest filings on October 13, here are the top contributors to their campaigns:
•California Federation of Teachers: ($10,000)
•Rodolfo Alvarez (Mara Solutions): $2,750
•Carlota Pena (Retired): $1,000
•Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties’ Community Action Fund PAC: $1,000
•Miguel Pena (Retired): $1,000
•Adjunct Faculty United COPE Committee ($10,000)
•UA Plumbers & Steamfitters Local Union No 582 PAC ($1,500)
•Local Union 105 Political Education Fund ($1,000)
•Miguel Alvarez (Candidate, Coursera Education Technology): $16,082
•Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Political Action Fund: $1,000
•United Faculty Political Action Committee ($11,500)
•Sharon Quirk-Silva for State Assembly ($500)
•Evangelina Rosales ($2,000)