The future of the RCC District

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By Amy Warshauer and John Waterman

By Amy Warshauer and John Waterman

A permanent administration seat that has been vacant since 2006 has finally been filled for the Riverside Community College District.

The new, undisputed chancellor of the Riverside Community College District is now Gregory W. Gray, with a 5-0 vote by the Board of Trustees March 17.

He is not expected to officially begin working until July 1, when Interim Chancellor Irving G. Hendrick’s transitional period of service of two years comes to an end.

Gray, who is currently the president of Miami Dade College, will accept the challenge of overseeing the district and coordinate with campus presidents as the chancellor in the Inland Empire’s largest community college district.

Once Gray takes his position, he will manage the district’s three growing campuses, though the transition should be seemingly smooth with consideration to Gray’s presidential experience for Miami Dade College which holds 37,000 students and is the largest community college in the country.

“It is no secret that the district has gone through an extended search process looking for a new chancellor,” said Virginia Blumenthal, who chaired the Chancellor Search Committee, in a press release on the RCC Web site. “But from the start, this board stated very plainly that we would search until we found the person we believed could lead this district to the next level of excellence. We found that person in Dr. Gray.”

Despite the importance attributed to the position, Gray recognizes that his role as chancellor will be one part of a group effort.

“It is one very simple duty, to ensure the best learning environment that can possibly be had for students at Riverside Community College,” Gray said. “We have an outstanding learning environment, which doesn’t happen because of me, it happens because of outstanding faculty and staff. My job is just to give them the resources they need, then I think I can be successful.”

The chancellor says that the college’s future resources will be in the form of new buildings and programs for all three campuses.

Through Measure C, which aids in community financial funding for colleges, Gray plans on placing funds into workforce programs such as nursing, health fields and green technology, all of which he says will be important careers for the future of California.

New buildings are under construction on all campuses. A new nursing building is expected to reach completion within the next 12 months for Riverside and 20 new teachers are being hired for September, summing up Gray’s point that “even when things are bad, we are able to move forward.”

As he starts to situate himself in his off-campus office on Spruce Street, he expresses the unfamiliarity of not working from an on-campus location.

In his previous position, Gray claimed to have interacted with students on a frequent basis. Because of this, he worries that his new off-campus location may interfere with his role at RCCD.

“This is the first job I have had in thirty years where I will not be at a college, my office is here,” he said. “But yes, I will be a regular visitor to all of the campuses for a couple reasons: One, I am the type of guy who likes to see what’s going on in places that I am in charge of. And two, I enjoy it. I enjoy chatting with students and seeing what they want to do and how college is helping them to do that.”

Though he still has a couple months before beginning his official role as chancellor, Gray is keeping busy in daily meetings and is making plans for the district’s future, one that he says, we all need to contribute to.

Gray looks forward to taking over as the chancellor for the seventh-oldest community college district.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” Gray said. “I feel I am coming into a very good place and one of the things I would like to instill on the student body is that you too have the responsibility to help make the college better. So that when you get your degree from this place in a year or two, you can step back and say, ‘You know, Riverside, it was a good place when I started, it’s a better place when I graduated, and I had something to do with it.'”

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