Forum held for Vice President Of Academic Affairs candidate


Perla Lara

From left to right Juan Avila, English literature major, Javier Reyes, undecided major and Brian Ellison who was speaking at the first of three open forums for the Cerritos College Vice President of Academic Affairs position held on Monday, April 17. Ellison is the current Vice President of Instruction at Merced College; both students found the forum to be interesting. Photo credit: Perla Lara

Karina Quiran-Juarez

An open forum was conducted for Dr. Brian Ellison, one of three candidates running for the spot of Vice President of Academic Affairs for Cerritos College.

Forum feedback forms were available prior to the start for faculty, staff, and students who attended.

Held Monday, April 17  in LC-155 Ellison, assistant superintendent and Vice President of Instruction at Merced College, answered three questions asked by Vice President of Student Services and moderator of the forum, Stephen Johnson.

Afterwards, attendees were able to ask questions of their own.

Ellison thought the forum was a great opportunity to interact and gave him a good opportunity to talk about things he is doing or has done elsewhere.

He said, “Hopefully people could see that’s what I bring into the college.”

He also said the forum was a great experience and the questions were really good.

The three questions asked by Johnson were:

  • How would you prepare to move from your current role to the role as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Cerritos College?
  • Have you had a team outside of work that helped you learn more about managing?
  • How would you balance your attention to the big picture goals and your everyday team implementations of them?

Ellison’s opening statements consisted of background on his experience at Merced College, being a professor of sociology and psychology before entering in administrative work, and being a community college graduate himself.

After serving on the academic senate, becoming faculty leader and becoming involved with the Faculty Association of Merced, he wanted to get involved with administrative work. He pursued a Masters of Business Administration and a doctoral degree in education.

Then he became a Dean of Instruction in City College of San Francisco. Ellison considered it his “foothold into administrative work.”

After spending time as Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at San Diego Continuing Education, he returned to Merced and served as Superintendent and Vice President Of Instruction.

With an understanding of the community college setting, he said that he knows its importance and its role in providing the opportunity for higher education.

One student at the forum was Juan Avila, English Literature Major.

He said, “I was referenced by a teacher to check it out. It was very interesting.”

Ellison said he would prepare for the role of Vice President of Academic Affairs and that he would essentially be moving into a similar position, due to his previous work.

However he stated that it’s important to “gain a good understanding prior to arrival,”of Cerritos College and understand what’s going on.

Ellison mentioned it is important to get “a sense where the college intends to go, future goals and plans.”

Moving onto the second question, in regards to a team outside of work and how it’s helped him with managing, Ellison compared it to family.

He responded that he would want people to “embrace decisions that are made and move forward as a singular group.”

He also emphasized the important experiences he learned through noticing the overlap that family and work have.

Attendee and research analyst in Institutional Effectiveness Research and Planning, Kahlil Ford liked that the forum gave people a chance to ask questions and stated that Ellison ,“Got really specific and had very practical and good examples to share.”

As for the third question, balancing big goals and team implications of them, Ellison said that it’s important to communicate, set goals and expectations for the team and discuss how they relate to “sustaining a student-centered learning environment.”

Javier Reyes, undecided major, mentioned he was at the forum because, “I decided I needed to be more informed of what’s going on on campus.”

Ellison also discussed the environment of a community college.

He emphasized the importance of the small student-to-teacher ratio and how it can benefit students in a number of ways whether it’s through studies or transferring to 4-year institution.

He went on to mention that when tasks or goals can become overwhelming for an educational manager, it’s important to prioritize and look at the one’s we need to do now.”

Once the questions were answered in length by Ellison, the remainder of the forum was open for attendees to participate by submitting questions of their own to be answered.

One question that was asked was in regards to completion rate.

Ellison mentioned that it’s important for students to find a connection to the campus whether it’s a person or some part of the institution.

Additionally he emphasized the importance of student services, such as counseling, and its impact toward completion rate.

He was then asked about the Full-time Equivalent Students and how it can increase from 17, 000 while the campus has roughly 22, 500 students in total. His ideas centered around encouraging students to enroll in more units, even bringing courses to students.

An example he brought up was bringing ESL courses to communities or organizations that could benefit.

Ellison was also asked about online education and where it is headed.

He explained it’s important to reach the students who would benefit. Above all, he mentioned online courses would “accelerate overtime.”

If students have other obligations, are busy and don’t have the time to get to campus, he said those online courses are much more convenient and become a “much better alternative” to reach those students.

Ellison said, Cerritos College, “Is similar to the student populations I’ve worked with elsewhere. It seems like a fantastic place to work.”