A new face in a familiar job

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By Stephanie Holland

Riverside City College’s newly elected president, Jan Muto, sits down for an interview with Viewpoints on Feb. 4.

By Stephanie Holland

S.H.: Tell us a little about yourself?

J.M.: I started in Mass Communications and I wanted to be a color commentator for Monday Night Football, but when I took my video classes I decided I liked directing better than being on camera.

Then I took a path through communications and organizations, teaching in that field. The more I did that, the more I became interested in administration.

S.H.: How has the transition been?

J.M.: It’s been very smooth; people have been very gracious and very welcoming.

S.H.: Can you tell us a little about your first day on the job, were you overwhelmed?

J.M.: Oh no, not overwhelmed at all. People have been so kind in helping learn the organization and learn the college.

My first day I spent a lot of time with the people I work most closely with, the vice presidents, getting to know the college from their areas of responsibility and goals we were aiming for and what accomplishments we had made.

It became clear to me very quickly that this was indeed the great college that I thought it was. I’m just so thrilled to be moving forward with the college.

S.H.: What do you think are one or two of the biggest challenges facing Riverside City College students today?

J.M.: The entire economy is affecting everyone and it’s very difficult in these times because community colleges tend to be the gathering point in difficult economic times.

We are seen as part of the solution to help people develop professional skills to enter new workforce areas that they had been displaced from.

The great challenge for students is to balance the economic demands they face with their home life and school, and being able to make sure that their finances are being used appropriately and that they’re heading to a point in the future that will help them be employed and be successful.

S.H.: As budget cuts become commonplace and more and more people attend community college, does the Riverside campus have enough resources to accommodate an influx of new students?

J.M.: We will of course do the very best we can with what we’re given. We’ll try to make every resource go as far as it can possibly go.

The college is funded by the state and given the status of the state budget, which is very ambiguous right now, our plan is to make every dollar go as far as we can and to help as many students as we can.

S.H.: Linda Lacy set a high standard and was extremely popular with the faculty and staff, was it daunting replacing someone like that?

J.M.: I don’t know if it was daunting so much as a wonderful challenge.

I have great respect for all that she accomplished. It was clear to me at the board of trustees meeting when my appointment was announced, just how well loved Dr. Lacy is.

She added a great deal to this institution and had some great accomplishments here and I am humbled to be following in her footsteps.

I look forward to learning a great deal from her.

S.H.: On a lighter note our research shows that you’ve played “Second Life,” what drew you to the game?

J.M.: Actually, I don’t see it so much as a game. I went to an academic conference on information technology and saw a demonstration by a community college in upstate New York who had been using it as not just a way to teach students, but as a way to connect students to college services.

I believe that in this century technology offers solutions when most of us haven’t even figured out the problems yet.

I’m not even sure of all the implications of using “Second Life,” but I know they’re vast and I want to be a part of that use of technology. And it’s fun.

S.H.: In your biography it says you have expertise in distance learning, new program development and federal grant development.

Which one of these areas are you most anxious to work on?

J.M.: Distance learning is something that I believe is a must for us and must for students in these economic times.

Distance learning can provide access to people whose resources are really constrained and also provides access to information that you can’t do in a face to face environment.

S.H.: As we start the new semester, do you have a message for the RCC community?

J.M.: My message is not original, I’m going to borrow from President Barack Obama and that is, “yes we can,” we should have hope.

My message is, let’s look to the future and plan for the future and head in that direction, boldly with great courage.

Click here to see the video interview with President Muto.

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