President Goldsmith Pledges to Listen to All

Cresencio Rodriguez

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Photo by: Ram Reyes

Carole S. Goldsmith

Heralded as a “strong” and “competent” leader by Richard Caglia, president of the State Center Community College Board of Trustees, Carole S. Goldsmith assumed the presidency of Fresno City College on Aug. 1.

The announcement of a new leader came on July 5, two months after Cynthia Azari, former interim president left to lead Oxnard College.

“[Being president of FCC] was something in my heart I always kind of wanted to do,” Goldsmith said. “I’m just really happy that I had the opportunity to be here now.”

Goldsmith’s entrance gives the largest college in the State Center Community College District a chance at a new beginning and possibly new direction.  

In the meantime, Goldsmith is content to leave things the way they are.

“I’m not wanting to come in and change things,” Goldsmith said. “I want to focus on what’s working [and] do more of that.”

Goldsmith has planned a 60-day period of pure listening so she can get acquainted with the FCC campus, learn the different workings of the institution and understand what may not be working at the college.

“Whatever is not working,” she said, “let’s find out what are the barriers to making that improve.”

The former president of West Hills College in Coalinga has always had a special interest in FCC, she said.

“I’ve been watching [FCC] probably for 20 to 30 years. I’ve just always been impressed by the level of academic opportunities.” ”

— FCC President Carole S. Goldsmith

“I’ve been watching [FCC] probably for 20 to 30 years,” she said. “I’ve just always been impressed by the level of academic opportunities.”  

She has had a home in the Fresno City College neighborhood most of her adult life which gave her a unique view of the college and its future possibilities.

Goldsmith spent three and a half years as president of the Coalinga campus of the West Hills Community College District; previously, she spent four years in a vice chancellor position and as director of strategic planning.

Now at FCC, she says it is the “gateway to opportunity” for the thousands of students in Fresno and surrounding communities, she said.

Even though being part of FCC was something she always wanted to do, Goldsmith said at first, she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue that goal yet. She had a comfortable position in Coalinga and knew things “inside and out.”

But having family in Fresno as well as a willingness to challenge herself, Goldsmith finally was convinced to apply after several colleagues suggested she would be a great fit at FCC.

“I thought, ‘why not…I’m up for the challenge’,” she said.

Goldsmith’s son, Chad Dobbs, formerly in the U.S. Army recently moved back from Georgia; Her daughter, Chelsea Dobbs, lives in San Luis Obispo; her grandson, Nathan, also lives in Fresno. Goldsmith said being close to family compelled her decision to seek the position of the FCC presidency. She said most of her downtime is spent with close family at home or outside the home — she recently attended a concert for her favorite band, Coldplay, she said.

Her parents live nearly an hour away in Visalia, something Goldsmith says also makes her feel confident about the Fresno move. Despite living in other places earlier, Goldsmith’s life in the Valley has shaped her perspectives about the communities and the need to continue improving opportunities and lives.

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot of places,” she said. “I think Fresno is pretty neat.”

She stressed the importance of helping community members work and go to school. That, she said, improves the community, a different view to a region often looked at negatively.

At her former job as president of West Hills, Goldsmith said she always maintained a close, respectful relationship with the students.  This is something she hopes she can continue at FCC.

“The reason I’m here is for students,” Goldsmith said.

To stay connected with students, Goldsmith attends academic and athletic events involving students. She talked about her experience at West Hills where she helped students start clubs  on campus by pairing them up with interested faculty.

Goldsmith said she is motivated by former college president Tony Cantu whom she knew from their time together at Fresno Unified School District. Cantu, she said, always kept students at the forefront and worked very hard to impact their lives. Cantu died on April 5, 2015.

“I’ve always thought him to be well-respected and well-liked among his peers,” she said.  “[He] understood that the heart of FCC is in the student.”

As Cantu’s successor, Goldsmith said she hopes “to continue in that legacy.”

In her 25-year educational career, Goldsmith was at one point the vice-principal at Cesar Chavez Adult School, responsible for career and technical education. Goldsmith wants to be there for students and be a good listener to their concerns. She says that FCC, the largest college in the area, is pivotal and serves as an “economic engine” for the city.

Goldsmith said. “That strength comes from our students.”