Cantu Appointed President: Experience and Understanding of FCC key in selection
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In these uncertain times of a daunting budget crisis, the State Center Community College Board of Trustees chose a man with vast knowledge and much needed experience to lead the affairs of Fresno City College.
On April 3, Tony Cantu ascended to the presidency of FCC, a position he had occupied on an interim basis since April 1, 2011. Cantu is the tenth president of the college and the third Hispanic to hold the position.
“The process that was utilized by the chancellor and board of trustees was inclusive and thorough,” said Randy Rowe, associate vice chancellor of Human Resources. “There was a tremendous amount of input from the campus community that the board and chancellor considered. The result of that process is a quality individual, Tony Cantu, being named president of Fresno City College.”
Having been in the position for a year, Cantu thought it was important to continue in his role and move forward to meet the challenges. And with over 23 years of experience in the State Center Community College District, he is confident in his knowledge of the college and the district.
During his tenure at SCCCD, Cantu has held several leadership positions, including serving as the vice president of instruction from 1999 to April 2011, as dean of humanities from 1994 to 1999. He has also held administrative positions at Reedley College and served as the interim president of Reedley College from 2003-2004.
Cantu said he believes that serving as interim president in the previous year has prepared him to be the next president of FCC.
“I have learned a lot in terms of making sure communication is timely and consistent. I have learned there is a huge number of people here who are willing to work and do what we need to do to move the college forward,” said Cantu. “I am very proud of this college and the faculty and students committed to the college. Having seen it from a campus wide perspective, instead of just instruction, solidified what I had always thought.”
Academic Senate president Claudia Habib said she is confident of Cantu’s ability.
“I think it’s a good decision because Tony has been part of the college for many years. He knows the culture. He knows the process,” said Habib. “Right now, we’re making changes for the better. We’re making the transition so we’ll be able to keep the momentum because he has been working with different committees on the strategic planning and on program review. Being able to continue all that will help us.”
Now, Cantu says he is ready to work with the district and build on FCC’s accreditation report as well as the strategic planning process. He is also working to make sure the college is well represented by individuals who work in different constituency groups.
And even amidst a budget crisis and the uncertainties it brings, Cantu remains optimistic. “I think we’ve stayed the course when dealing with doubts regarding the budget. We continue to provide as many services as possible to students. I’m very proud of that,” said Cantu.
As the chief executive of FCC, Cantu is focused on building a strong relationship with students. He hopes to share more information with students and to get them involved in the governance process.
Cantu draws most of his strength and confidence from his upbringing in the small town of Mendota, Calif. He credits the small-town his strong sense of value.
“You get a sense of how everyone is looking out for each other. Everybody knows you, and that was beneficial for me growing up in that environment,” he said. “I went to Tranquility High School and that was a very good experience. I benefited from having very good teachers. I have been fortunate to have very good mentors. I’ve had individuals who have taken an interest in me and have encouraged me.”
After graduating from Tranquility High, Cantu went on to pursue several degrees. At CSU Fresno, he received advanced degrees in Linguistics and ESL. He later received his degree in French from CSU Long Beach and completed graduate courses in French and Spanish Literature at UC Irvine.
Looking forward to his tenure as president, Cantu gives credit to FCC’s past presidents. As vice president of instruction, he worked closely with previous presidents and gained valuable experience.
“It feels good to be part of this history. It’s not where I expected to be at this point in my career, but it’s very exciting,” he said. “I hope people will say that I cared and worked for the best interest of the college, the faculty and students.”