Chapter 10: The Post-Pandemic Student Success Imperative

April 12, 2022

Like many college presidents, commencement is my favorite day on campus. This May, after more than a year of primarily virtual events, the opportunity to present diplomas to students in person reinvigorated my passion for supporting their success. As a first-generation college graduate coming from meager means, my life has been transformed by the power of education. Therefore, when each graduate walks across the stage to receive their diploma, whether on their way to a new career, graduate school, or planned service opportunity, I view their educational experience as a successful outcome.

Chapter 9: Toward a Post-Pandemic Preferred Future

March 23, 2022

How is higher education emerging from the pandemic better, stronger, and more equitable? What have we learned during this historic moment? As we emerge from the global pandemic and the intersecting public health crises that it helped to expose, our nation needs its community colleges to shape the near and distant future of our country.

Chapter 8: Post-Pandemic: It’s Not All About Technology

February 23, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic presented difficult new questions for so many sectors of our society.   

Chapter 7: The Cost of Higher Education’s Pursuit of Status

February 06, 2022

I suffer from panic attacks. They typically happen in the middle of the night and are triggered by a lost sense of control. This past year has been a challenge for worriers like me. The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and an extraordinary political season that culminated in the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill caused even the most confident, experienced, and successful among us to wonder if they could effectively lead through the chaos. Everything felt out of control. 

Chapter 6: Successfully Navigating the Mask Paradox: The Power of Institutional Authenticity

January 10, 2022

As higher education emerges from the pandemic, there is much discussion about what must be done to successfully move forward. Given the challenging and continuously changing landscape in which we find ourselves, hypotheses abound about what should be done. But they are just that—hypotheses—and we can all point to hypotheses that end up not being supported by the evidence. So, how does a higher education leadership team sort through the myriad of unsolicited email “opportunities” from consultants, professional organizations, and advocacy groups; daily advice, trends, and “best practices” articles in higher education publications; and perspectives from faculty, staff, students, alumni, legislators, community members, and a plethora of other constituency groups to determine the most effective path forward for their particular institution?

Chapter 5: The Role of the President: Leading by Wearing Bifocals Through the Pandemic and Beyond

December 10, 2021

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Los Angeles County Public Health announced that COVID-19 was an official pandemic and educational institutions must take immediate actions to protect their students. Conferring with the Board of Trustees and the President’s Cabinet on “immediate action,” I sent communications to faculty, staff, and students that the campus would immediately convert to remote education and virtual business operations and would temporarily suspend campus housing. Fortunately, the following week was spring break, and we had seven days to move from a traditional face-to-face campus to completely virtual.

Chapter 4: Race in Higher Education

November 17, 2021

We are in Washington, D.C., in the year 2028. It's the 20th anniversary of the election of Barack Obama. Equality in America has finally been realized some 409 years since enslaved individuals first reached America’s shores. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans are nominated and elected to public office at percentages similar to their respective populations.

Chapter 3: Holistic Approach to Higher Education

October 20, 2021

It’s no secret that the landscape of higher education is changing rapidly. Every day, tuition-dependent private institutions are grappling with issues related to affordability, enrollment, competition, shrinking state and federal funding, student success and retention, and the looming drop in the number of high school graduates. As if this wasn’t enough, a global pandemic swept in, exacerbating existing challenges and creating unforeseen new ones.

Chapter 2: Higher Education’s Responsibility to Generate Social Mobility

September 29, 2021

The magic of social mobility is that it creates a future that students cannot fathom. That was true in my case growing up in a rural suburb of Manila, Philippines, under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. I never imagined I could become the president of not one, but two major American universities. Lived experience—both as an immigrant student and an academic administrator—inspires my recommendations on the most meaningful actions we, as university presidents, can take to set our students on an upward class trajectory. This is undeniably higher education’s most transformative outcome. 

Chapter 1: TOWN and GOWN Partnerships to TOWN and GOWN Membership

September 07, 2021

I will write about how a concerted community formed across political, racial, and other differences to advance community health and the insight we might draw from that experience to understand prior successes and failures and project better outcomes in the future.

2021-2022 Series Foreword

August 25, 2021

Crises are also crucibles—exacerbating change, releasing energy, and testing bedrock principles and assumptions. At this moment, as we roll up our sleeves to be vaccinated and cautiously remove our masks, many of us are wondering what 15 months of crisis has wrought for higher education. How have we fared when exposed to the high heat and pressure of the multiple and intertwined crises of COVID-19, racial reckoning, political polarization, and economic uncertainty? What assumptions have been upended and what needs to be reclaimed?