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IVC taps Fujimoto as interim president

June 13, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH

Staff Writer

With the retirement of Imperial Valley College President Gilbert Dominguez less than two weeks away, the college announced at its meeting Wednesday it has hired a new interim president.

Jack Fujimoto will move into the president's office July 1.

"I've been in the community college system for about 35 years," Fujimoto said shortly before the board meeting.

Fujimoto has been president at West Los Angeles, Sacramento City and Los Angeles Pierce and Mission colleges.

His most recent teaching assignments include involvement with a doctoral program in UCLA's graduate school of education and information studies.

Earlier this year Fujimoto returned to Mission College, where he had previously been president for five years, to work with the college's GED program.

"I went back to Mission College because of my interest in finding out what are the learning barriers people have in trying to learn mathematics for the GED exam," Fujimoto explained.

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Asked to explain how the role of an interim president differs from that of a permanent appointee, Fujimoto offered this view of his role at IVC in the coming months.

"When Dr. Dominguez leaves I'm here as a sort of a provost, a caretaker you might say," he said.

Fujimoto said with a national search under way for a new president, his level of action will depend on the incoming president's schedule.

"I can either make or not make changes during my time here but my feelings are that I think it's best that I don't make any changes unless we have some feeling of the person who is coming in."

Fujimoto added, "The board sets policy and the board sets direction and the board indicates areas they want to focus on. There is a strategic plan in place and there has been an accreditation site visit with recommendations having been made. It is my understanding there are two recommendations to address before the end of the year but I believe it's basically a matter of tying a ribbon around it and saying to the accrediting commission that IVC has complied."

Fujimoto's interim role is for an initial five months, ending Nov. 30, although he describes "flexibility" on his part as being part of the assignment.

"If they appoint someone earlier, then I leave earlier. If it's later then I'll leave later," he said.

"I'm flexible," he added with a grin.

The campus search committee along with an academic recruitment company, the Serrano Group, is set to get the search for a new president into high gear. A prototype of a recruitment brochure was submitted for the board's approval at Wednesday night's meeting.

When asked what he is looking forward to in his role as "caretaker," Fujimoto's reply is quick in coming.

"What I'm very much interested in is the learning environment that can be created so that students can make progress; to me it's that learning environment that is so critical. If the students do not feel they are making progress or they feel that the campus climate is such that they can not make any progress, then we've failed."

When asked to detail the biggest challenge for community college leaders, he answers with passion.

"The challenge is really being able to create a climate so that faculty, students and staff feel they are part of a team at an institution that really is providing an education for others."

Addressing the contentious issue of contract negotiations, Fujimoto said, "When you get into contract negotiations and they become very difficult because of stubbornness or whatever … it's not a team as much as ‘Well, I want my share and to hell with everybody else.' If I can create or rather continue the work of fostering a team environment, then I'm looking forward to it."

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or dingo87@earthlink.net

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