Chancellor candidate Vela speaks to RCC community

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By Kevin Hudec & Alethia Meloncon

Noelia Vela, one of three candidates for the position of RCC chancellor. (Christopher Ullyott)

By Kevin Hudec & Alethia Meloncon

Noelia Vela received intense questioning from those present at the two public forums held on March 12 in the Digital Library Auditorium. Vela is one of three candidates who have been recommended by the Board of Trustees for the position of chancellor at Riverside Community College District. She is currently president/superintendent of Cerritos College.

Vela started the forums with a basic background of her academic career, telling the audience that 14 of her 33 years in education have been spent at districts with either multiple campuses or multiple colleges.

Shortly thereafter there was a flood of questions from many of the faculty present that were concerned in regards to her position on how much support and role play she would have in addressing their issues if chosen as chancellor.

Vela spent much of her time in front of audiences on RCC’s campus stressing the importance of honesty and communication.

“Active academic and faculty senates are the best way (to keep communication open),” Vela said. “Shared governance is very important.”

One question focused on what type of relationship she found worked best at colleges.

“Open communication works best for faculty as long as it is clear that all parties could respectfully disagree, but keep in mind that the ultimate goal is student success,” she said.

When asked why she chose administration career over teaching, Vela stated that she chose administration over teaching because her experiences in colleges is that in the position of administration she observed that she could “have more effect in making changes that would benefit students directly.”

Vela started her academic career as a counselor, but ended up in administration. She said she believes strongly in shared governance, where students and faculty are allowed to share concerns and address any issues that are affecting their academic progress.

Vela continued her emphasis on honesty when asked about her alleged vote of no confidence while at Evergreen Valley College.

Vela explained that while she was at Evergreen, two board members asked her to do something that was against school policy. After politely declining due to the fact that she was being asked to go against rules set forth by those board members, the board members “spread lies” that made her receive her vote of no confidence.

These allegations from the board members ranged from lying to faculty to not supporting technology. However, Vela denies such accusations.

“I am a huge proponent of technology,” Vela said.

Vela brought the focus back onto RCC by talking about why it was she was interested in the RCCD chancellor position.

“Honestly, when I first got the call about this position I turned it down,” Vela said. “(Continuous) calls finally convinced me… This is where the action is in the Inland Empire.”

If chosen for chancellor of RCCD, Vela believes it would be a great opportunity to start the early stages of implementing and funding changes that would help shape the college into a great district.

Vela who has worked in education most of her life stated that she “brings to the table the experience in both teaching and as an administrator that gives her the experience to understand the needs of both.” She would like to be able to remove barriers so that students are allowed to excel.

“Faculty and administration should work to make students consumers of higher education,” she said.

Vela also supported vocational programs, stressing under-populated professions, and ensuring that student athletes are students first and athletes second. She also addressed her understanding of various needs and focus on the students.

“RCC has a great track record with grants and I would like to continue that trend,” Vela said.

Another criticism of Vela dealt with her history of moving every few years. In her defense, Vela explained that it was simply business.

“Most of the moves I’ve made were career opportunities,” Vela said. “If I were picked for the chancellor position here at RCC, I would intend to retire in the area.”

When Vela was asked what would be her top priority if chosen for the chancellor position here at RCCD, she said it was “getting to know the districts and taking into context the community… and checking the progress for accreditation.”

The Board of Trustees will decide who the next chancellor will be on March 20.

For Viewpoints original story on Vela:

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