By Stephen Day
Riverside City College’s search for a permanent president has finally ended with the welcoming of Claire Oliveros.
Oliveros brings long-needed stability to the office and allows the school to begin moving forward once again.
The new president brings 29 years of experience in higher education having worked as an educator and an administrator in places such as California, Oregon and Virginia.
“The bulk of my career and much of my biography is from Portland, Oregon. I grew up there,” Oliveros said. “I worked for 19 years in Oregon’s public university and community college system.”
Oliveros struggled on her educational journey being the first woman in three generations of her family to graduate high school. She later found it difficult adjusting to the culture of a small, rural liberal arts college.
She said she is thankful for the multicultural student counselors and the student support services which she credits for helping her achieve success.
“At the age of 18 I became a participant of a program that I eventually got to direct and lead in my adult career-life,” Oliveros said. “It was those entities that really were the lifeline to be successful in college and graduate.”
With this background, Oliveros is more aware of the struggles that students of color face in their own educational journeys.
“There’s still more work to be done in diversifying our student body, our faculty and administration and classified professional ranks,” Oliveros said. “With a diverse student body comes diverse aspects of responding to the economic and environmental needs that our students are experiencing.”
The president of the college acts as a chief executive officer for the organization, facilitating the function of the college including academic affairs, student services and facilities. They also partake in business planning and resource development, all in the service of the Board of Trustees.
In her open forum presentation last spring, Oliveros stated that her goal was to learn as much about the campus and its community as she could when she came into the role of president. In these last few months, she has been doing just that.
“I’m learning about how engaged our faculty and classified professionals and administrators and students are,” Oliveros said.
Oliveros was on hand for RCC’s Welcome Day which signaled the beginning of the fall semester and brought throngs of first-time students to the campus.
“It took my breath away to see and feel and experience the 3,000 plus students returning to in-person and online education surrounded by their family members who joined them on Welcome Day,” the president said.
Since the beginning of the school year she has been meeting with the various college departments and learning about their needs and the direction that each of them is looking to move toward in the future.
“What people are sharing with me as I’m listening, learning and participating is a desire for some stability and consistency and support for leading in a similar direction,” Oliveros said.
Oliveros hopes to be a compass that helps lead the ship that is RCC in the direction that will best serve the needs of both the student body and the community.
“I want to help. I want to be at the helm to help us go in that direction with the many helping hands that are also part of that compass,” Oliveros said. “I’m leading others to be the best version of themselves to help us get there and advocate, support and create opportunities and help identify resources to help make that happen.”