Azari Reveals Priorities, Discusses College Concerns in Second Tenure


Photo by: Daisy Rodriguez

Cynthia Azari, FCC interim president.

Q: Are there any particular FCC issues you are most concerned about resolving?
A: You know I’m interim, and I came in with a contract through next March. That’s public information and or till a president gets hired. I was really tasked with looking at communication and morale.
This district has gone through some tough times and especially Fresno City College, we’ve lost a very important person, someone who’s been integral to the college community for many years. I knew Tony Cantu, he was a good friend of mine and his loss was significant so the morale had taken a dive and so my job really was to really help build a solid team, improve communication channels and help improve morale, and that’s really what I’m working on.
On opening day, I shared information from a climate survey that was done last year. A climate survey, if you’re not familiar with that, it’s basically asking if the faculty and staff, what are your thoughts about certain issues, not only governance, but about working conditions and those things, and we found that communications was lacking and we found that we needed to do something to boost morale and you can do that in many ways.
One thing we’re trying to do is to try to get more people to have a college spirit so we wear Fresno City College shirts on Fridays; we’re setting up a tailgate for Sept. 12 which is a football game, and we want people to be more involved in college activities. That’s what I’m working on.

Q: What are your priorities for Fresno City College?
A: The priority this year is always to ensure that our students have the best possible education and services; that’s always been my priority, students have to come first, that we’re providing the best possible education and services that we possibly can because it’s not only a growing institution, but it’s retaining students, helping students to meet their goal, and whether that would be to transfer or a career technical education program.
Whatever it is, we want to help students achieve their goals, I’d like to see an increase in transfer because I think that a lot of students want to transfer to other institutions. I want to make sure that we have a pathway to that. I’d like to ensure that our honors program is meeting the needs of the students in the honor program, but it’s basically all about students. That’s why I’m here.

Q: What are some of the most important plans you have to better our college experience?
A: Now that we five more custodians, that’s important. I had lunch with the day custodians and I had dinner with the night custodians, and I said, ‘Your contribution, you’re a part of this institution because an effective learning environment is a clean environment.’ If you walk into a classroom, and there’s garbage everywhere, you’re going to look at that, nobody wants that.
So part of the educational experience is everything that we do, and it’s ensuring that we have facilities that are pleasing, that are clean, that are current, we want to make sure that we have computer labs that have current software, we want to make sure that the tutoring lab, actually I think that it needs to be expanded, I think that it’s too small.
I was so surprised when I walked in there on my first day back, I was like oh my gosh, this hasn’t changed, so I’d like to expand the writing lab and expand the tutoring lab because students are learning that using those services really does help and our studies have shown that students who take advantage of those supplemental instructions activity really do benefit from that.

Q: In what ways does FCC separate itself from other community colleges in the state?
A: First of all, we are the premiere; we were the first community college in California, actually that was contested, and we finally proved that we were the first.
In 2010, we had our centennial and we were the second in the U.S. Joliet, Illinois was the first. So no one can ever beat that; plus we have some outstanding programs, and it’s really up to us to make sure that we showcase those programs. We have probably the most diverse community college in the state, and I think that’s something that we’re all very proud of — the diversity and the fact that we recognize that diversity. We appreciate that diversity and it makes us all strong.