By Michael J. ARVIZU
Dr. David Viar, Glendale Community College’s newest superintendent/president, formally met and shook hands with about 50 of his faculty and staff during a welcome reception held at the college on Monday afternoon.
Viar officially took over the college’s top job on Monday, replacing Supt./President Dr. Jim Riggs. Riggs was hired on a temporary basis in July 2012, replacing Dawn Lindsey who left GCC in April of that year to take on the position of president at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.
At the reception, faculty and staff were eager to meet Viar who served as president of American River College in Sacramento for eight years. Viar also served as CEO of the Community College League of California for 15 years and chaired the Californians for Community Colleges coalition group.
As he begins his new position, Viar said his goals are to provide leadership for the college so that faculty and staff will work well with each other while advancing student success efforts. The college, he said, is also prepared to admit students who are looking to advance their education after leaving the workforce due to layoffs caused by the recent downturn in the economy.
“The college is really going to do all it can to offer as many courses and to welcome as many folks, either in noncredit or credit programs,” said Viar.
Deborah Kinley, associate dean of noncredit continuing and community education at the college’s Garfield campus, agrees with Viar. She hopes the new president will recognize the importance of noncredit education to the community and the GCC campus as a whole.
“We are there to help students who find themselves out of a job, to help them get back into a job, brush up on their skills to help them get back into the workforce,” Kinley said. “Overall, we’d like support for the Garfield campus – not because we haven’t had support, we just want continued support for our goals.”
The college, Viar said, will be able to provide additional class sections “so that students can get to those courses.” The ability for the college to add classes comes courtesy of money provided by Proposition 30, which passed in November. The proposition earmarks $210 million in additional funding for California community colleges and comes on the heels of a budget crisis at GCC that reduced classes, forced staff to take a pay cut, and caused thousands of students to be placed on wait lists for classes. The new class sections that the influx of cash makes possible, Viar said, are a positive turnaround for the college and build on the its strong vocational programs.
“I definitely want [Viar] to see the programs we do have and the things we could improve and the other things we could be doing,” said Jan Swinton, GCC’s dean of workforce development.
But while GCC’s budget woes may soon be history, faculty and staff are yearning for a sense of stability in Viar. Viar is the college’s fourth president in seven years.
“To be brutally honest, [four] presidents in seven years is too much of a turnover,” said former GCC physical science, physics, mathematics and astronomy professor Poghos Kazarian.
Kazarian hopes Viar will listen to the concerns of faculty and staff and base decisions on those concerns. This ability to listen, Kazarian said, is something he feels Viar’s predecessors have lacked.
“After John Davitt left, we kind of discombobulated, perhaps you can say,” said Kinley. “I think it is his intent to stick around. He has family in the area, so I think he’s looking for a place to land, to have a long-term relationship. That’s what I think we’re all looking for.”