By Joseph Martinez
By Joseph Martinez
Dr. Daniel Castro, former real estate developer, politician and radio disc jockey is the new president of the Riverside Campus.
He was introduced to Riverside Community College by Academic Senate President Virginia Mckee-Leone at a public forum held May 9. He referred to a history of achievements while involved with community colleges. At Los Angeles Trade Tech, he led the college through a successful accreditation process. At Mission College he developed the TEACH program to address the growing demand for qualified teachers in California.
Castro started the forum by addressing some larger problems for community colleges and letting on to his style of administration. Castro pointed out that the California community college system is unprepared to handle the influx of students it will be receiving.
“I know we need to address this issue,” Castro said. “We need to let people know at the state level that community colleges are not second class citizens. We need more help than others to prepare students to go on.”
Castro made it clear to the audience that if elected as president, he will promote change for RCC.
“If you want someone to manage this college, I’m not the candidate for you,” Castro said. “But I can help take this college to the next level.”
As president at Los Angeles Trade Tech College, Castro has developed renown among the student body as a president who enjoys and actively pursues communication with students.
“My philosophy is students are not a means, but an end,” Castro said. “The school is there to serve them.”
Indeed, Castro presented RCC with a strong message on what to expect of his administration if he is selected as president for the Riverside Campus. He chooses to run a community college campus to bring students, faculty and administrators together.
“I keep the campus together like a family; every person is a part of the family,” Castro said.
Castro has an open door policy for resolving questions, doubts and rumors. Students at Los Angeles Trade Tech College agreed with this policy.
“Dr. Castro has an open door policy, you can just walk into his office,” student government president John Hernandez said. “He is always ready to talk and help with your problems. He’s a listener and a mentor.”
Associated Student Organization advisor Sonya Lopez agreed with Hernandez.
“Students go into his office all the time,” Lopez said. “He brought ASO back to keep students involved. He wants participation from all students on campus.”
Though, not everybody has been in agreement with this. A secretary at the college believed Castro may entertain some student clubs more than others.
“I don’t feel like Mr. Castro pays equal effort and encouragement to all clubs on campus,” she said.
Castro also allows faculty freedom in their courses.
“Faculty have the right to teach,” Castro said. “I have always wanted to be a teacher. That has been my dream since getting back into education.”
Castro, while serving as president of Los Angeles Trade Tech College, encourages students to pursue education for their well-being and the well-being of their communities. This message was cultivated on a radio program at KPCC. The program was launched by Castro to encourage Latino youths to finish grade school and aspire to college degrees. For 20 years he was ‘Sancho,’ a disc jockey who managed to raise $1 million for scholarships. Though the radio program was cancelled five years ago, Sancho remains a cultural hero for many in the Latino community for helping to assert its potential.
As president of Los Angeles Trade Tech College, Castro remained active in promoting students’ right to education. Academic programs, though not the focus of the college, remain and are slated for growth and development. Castro has promoted programs to encourage students to transfer to four-year colleges. The college’s Puente program was expanded and an honors program is being instituted to encourage academic achievement. Students at the mainly vocational college are also often offered jobs before they even complete their education, so encouraging them to finish their degree was essential to maintaining an academic environment.
Castro began as a wild-card administrator. He arrived at Los Angeles Trade Tech as an interim president. Much of the administration and faculty expected him to preside over the school in a mute fashion, but he immediately began to affect change. He expounded on-campus child development programs.
“He believes in child development,” Faculty Union President John McDowell said. The administration he appointed, the new deans, shared his vision that the college needed to change its programs to remain relevant. A master plan for campus development was created to manage campus population growth and develop the campus physically. Outgoing and retiring faculty left vacant positions, which were promptly filled. However, the administration of Castro created controversy and anger. The faculty perceived his actions as tampering with the college’s stated mission.
“Many people complained that he wasn’t following the procedures, that he was creating problems,” said McDowell.
The campus has lost some programs, such as printing and graphic arts, which were deleted due to lack of enrollment. But other programs, such as wielding, are booming.
Castro has not let disagreement within the campus, directed at him or not, to interrupt the mission for growth at the college. He believes an important part of his job is to find solutions to conflicts between faculty members and the administration. On May 26, Castro is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 11th president of Los Angeles Trade Tech College.
Castro promised to “utilize all resources for the three campus district” if elected. If he were elected, he would be missed at LATTC. Interviews with faculty, administrators and students at Los Angeles Trade Tech ended with an expression of regret over the prospect of his departure.
“If elected you will have a student oriented leader,” Vice-President of Administration Mary-Anne Breckle said. “Overall Mr. Castro cares for the students, their safety and well being.”