The new Las Positas College president is eager to work with local businesses to make sure his college best matches the needs of the community.
"My first goal is to listen and observe," President Barry Russell said. "I need to take a moment to step back and understand what's going on with the college landscape here (in terms of) faculty, classified staff and student issues.
"I also want to take some time to listen to the community. Part of my job is to be that connection between the local community and the college and to help the college respond when it needs to."
Russell was hired as Las Positas' sixth president from his most current job as vice chancellor of academic affairs for California Community Colleges in Sacramento. He oversaw the entire academic program for all 112 state community colleges.
While he enjoyed his job, the lifelong educator was eager to get back on campus where he could interact with students and staff to directly touch so many lives.
"I love being on a college campus where you're working with students and faculty directly to solve local issues and being part of a community," Russell said. "I'm excited about getting more involved in the Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore communities."
Russell is particularly eager to strengthen the bond with local businesses. Employees can benefit from Las Positas by taking classes to advance their careers or expand on their interests.
"Maybe they always wanted to learn French," he said. "This is a good time to come out to a local college where the fees are relatively small and learn the language. It's easily accessible, and we have very qualified faculty."
Local residents also may enjoy Las Positas by attending basketball games, theater productions, concerts and other campus events.
There are two key ways businesses can get involved with Las Positas - by offering internships and serving on advisory committees.
"It could be from a very small job-shadowing experience to a much longer semester-length internship," Russell said of intern opportunities. "Some people have in mind that it's a long-term commitment. That could happen, but what mostly happens is that a student needs just four to 12 hours of participating with a business owner. They can either job shadow or learn a certain niche in the field they're studying."
Las Positas is always looking for enthusiastic business people who are eager to serve as mentors for college students.
"We're looking for those kind of people all the time," Russell noted. "All they have to do is call us. We'll see if we can find a fit with students and a program and whatever it is the companies need."
Another way businesses can get involved is by having bosses or employees serve on advisory committees.
"We have advisory committees on the campus in lots of areas, like business, computer science and engineering," Russell explained. "We need the expertise from the field to give us the current perspective on curriculum needs. We don't want to train bookkeepers to use a 10-key pad if what they need to learn is Excel spreadsheets. We need to make sure we're matching whatever is needed out there in the world."
For more information about Las Positas College in Livermore, visit laspositascollege.edu or call 925-424-1000. Mark your calendars for April 26 for the college's annual Best of the Best gala fundraiser.
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