Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 31, 2006 > Ohlone College Board (John Weed)

Ohlone College Board (John Weed)

TCV: As an incumbent, what will you bring to the board if elected for another term?

Today, with "concurrent enrollment," we are getting more and more cooperative programs with the high schools and the adult schools in basic skills. We have that articulation in English as a second language (ESL) and need to do this in the basic educational formats. I have been a part of that and plan to keep pushing to address these issues.

Ohlone College is a wonderful institution. We are a single campus district able to focus on issues within our school.  Ohlone has a remarkable degree of diversity with a high degree of education, but also with large numbers of students that need additional assistance. Our faculty is able to work with us and has assisted in some innovative approaches such as contract education which uses an entrepreneurial approach with private industry.  This is the "Ohlone Way" in which we all support the institution and relate well with each other to help the students of our community.

TCV: How will you help the board coalesce into a well functioning group?

Weed: The board has challenges. It has seven personalities, each elected and each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Given my level of experience and the length of time I have served, I can relate and put things into perspective, showing the bigger picture. I can make sure the board does not drift into inappropriate areas to make a statement or policy decision. I'm pretty much the corporate memory both for the board and the administration. Dr. Treadway is the fourth president I have worked with at Ohlone College.

TCV: What are the challenges and growth potential for Ohlone in the next four years?

Weed: We are doing some extraordinary things in international education. Newark Center will allow technical programs and health sciences to work on merging somewhat counter philosophies of broad, general education, and focused, time-sensitive education. I felt it was important to create these different cultures in separate centers that would allow these programs to reach optimum strength.

Community colleges have a true voucher system since students can go to any community college in the state. Tuition is a little over $20 per unit, a small fraction of what it would be in the state university system or in a private school. We have direct competition from other community colleges and proprietary schools.

My idea of changing the name from the Fremont-Newark Community College District to Ohlone Community College District shows we are not restricted by our geographical boundaries. With distance learning and technical abilities we can literally go worldwide. We have established an identity. I give great credit to Dr. Treadway who has helped us make the transition from a local community college to a school that can take on an international identity of its own.

TCV: What is the role of Ohlone College and its Board of Trustees?

Weed: The role of a community college is very broad. It covers cultural aspects, all levels of education and, in the area of technology, can be post-doctoral with industry based course work.

The Board of Trustees is the governing board of the district. Unlike the University of California and the state university system, we are responsible for all hiring and firing, plus contracts and other legal responsibilities. The board also provides guidance to allow administration and faculty to do their job without being bogged down in other diversionary issues. We establish a mission statement, an important document even if it may only be a sentence long.

TCV: You serve on the Alameda County Water District board. Do you see any problem serving on two different boards?

Weed: The ability to provide input to the public sector should be the measure. It is clear to me that there is no legal or ethical conflict. I have a strong background in water and a passion for education. In a recent case of potential conflict-of-interest, someone served on both a school board and water board and it was found that these positions were not incompatible.

TCV: What makes Ohlone special?

Weed: There is a spirit within the institution which some call the "Ohlone Way." I believe Ohlone College has, by far, the highest reputation for service of any public institution in the community. The college has a much broader impact in its connections with many people.

Did you know that every president of Ohlone College has retired from that position? This is very rare in the state of California. The longevity of the board is a testament to the wonderful reputation of the college. I believe I had something to do with this over the years.

TCV: How involved were you with development of the Newark Center project?

Weed: In the early days we had a little center in Newark. We kept promising something more over the years. Staff found space in the Raley's Shopping Center where we could carve out four classrooms. I asked for something larger. George Silliman was excited about space we found at MacGregor and thought this could be a permanent facility. I thought we still were not thinking big enough. I spoke with Dave Smith, Al Huezo, and Jim Reese promoting the idea of 40 acres of land - 20 acres parking, 10 acres for buildings and 10 acres for athletic fields. That morphed into something that is of similar size at the Newark Center.

 
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