The name Thomas Nussbaum may not ring with familiarity with some in the Imperial Valley, but it is an important name in education in California.
Nussbaum is head of the entire state community college system. It's a critical position in that he has a lot to do with the success of the huge system of which Imperial Valley College is a part.
Nussbaum's name is also important to the Valley because he is home-grown. Born in Brawley, he was raised in El Centro and graduated from Central Union High School. He still thinks of himself as a Spartan.
After high school he left the Valley to pursue his education. He ended up going to law school, passed the bar and then joined the state community college system as an attorney. Nussbaum worked the ranks until 1996, when he was named chancellor of the system. There are few other administrative positions in education in the state that are as powerful. But more important, Nussbaum's success serves to send a message to the youths of the Imperial Valley: With hard work and persistence, success, great success, is reachable for folks from the Valley. He is a role model for that.