Open Forum: State Center Community College District Chancellor Search Finalists


Image / Oct. 25 State Center Community College District chancellor finalists open forum

Finalists of the State Center Community College District chancellor search had the chance to introduce themselves and answer questions from the public during an open forum on Oct. 25, 2021.  

The three finalists are current Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith, San Joaquin Delta College President Omid Pourzanjani and former Coastal Bend College President Beatriz Espinoza. 

Carole Goldsmith 

Goldsmith has served as FCC’s president since 2016. Prior to this, she was president of West Hills College Coalinga.

During her forum, she emphasized the importance of inclusivity throughout the district and said it will be her hallmark of her chancellorship. 

As chancellor, Goldsmith said she will continue to listen to faculty, staff and students and take action starting day one. 

“This would be an incredible challenge but yet an opportunity that we must seize because I believe the future of our valley and state is at risk if we do not select the right chancellor,” she said. 

To do so, Goldsmith said she devised something she plans to call a “blueprint for growth,” which focuses on changing the trajectory of the district and its campuses. 

The “blueprint for growth” will focus on the following areas:

  1. Campus recovery efforts by working with their respective presidents 
  2. Addressing systemic inequalities that exist at both the district and colleges
  3. Advocating for all SCCCD campuses in order to get more resources
  4. Accelerating programs available and diversifying staff to reflect the demographics of each campus
  5. Taking advantage of technology and using it as an educational tool 

Goldsmith said she has already worked on some of these things while at FCC. Some examples include creating nursing and police task forces focused on eliminating racism in both programs and a LGBT pride flag raising ceremony in 2020. 

Omid Pourzanjani

As SJDC President, who is on a leave of absence for reasons he did not elaborate on, Pourzanjani believes he could be the chancellor that pushes the SCCCD into state and national spotlight.

During his presidency at SJDC, he was able to overcome issues such as the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system and others caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When COVID-19 hit, SJDC faculty and staff migrated all services and courses online in 10 days and have since improved this significantly, according to Pourzanjani.

As SCCCD chancellor, Pourzanjani said he would continue focusing on student success in online education and helping employees perform their best in any environment during the pandemic. 

For him, this means collaborating with employees on all levels to think ahead and act immediately.

“We have a lot of indicators of what is coming so we can look ahead and ask, ‘Where are we going? What do we want our new world to look like? What is the best way for us to empower students to continue their education in this new norm and what is the best way for us to serve them?’” he said. 

 In addition to helping the district transition out of the pandemic, Pourzanjani said he wants to focus on overcoming equity barriers. 

Some examples of his work in the past include supporting minority task forces and condemning anti-LGBT sentiments. 

At the end of his forum, Pourzanjani said he hopes the Fresno community can overlook his last name, skin color, gender, country of origin and focus on what he can bring to the district. 

Beatriz Espinoza 

Former CBC President, Espinoza said she could help the SCCCD serve its population and close the gaps of student success.

While at CBC, Espinoza faced issues such as financial insolvency and a situation in the nursing department involving administration, faculty and students’ grades. 

Despite this, Espinoza said she is still committed to helping students of all backgrounds. 

As chancellor, she plans to focus on the following areas: 

  1. Unifying all SCCCD campuses 
  2. Transparency on the progress of SCCCD construction projects 
  3. Inclusivity throughout the district 
  4. Evaluation of SCCCD’s institutional effectiveness 
  5. Integrity and collaboration 

Like Goldsmith, Espinoza stressed the importance of cooperation as she believes employees have the same goal of success for students. 

If this is not the goal, she said faculty and staff must take a step back and find out how to get back on track to fill the equity gaps and maximize the resources available. 

When applying for the chancellor position, Espinoza said many of her colleagues had no idea where the SCCCD is located nor did she hear back from SCCCD officials when requesting information on partnerships and more. 

These are two more issues she believes can be resolved. 

“There is no reason for us not to be at the state, regional, national level and international level,” she said. “We have the resources. We don’t need to be our best kept secret. We need to get it out and we need everybody engaged in it.” 

Espinoza said she would go as far as knocking on doors and championing all the SCCCD’s work in order to attract more people.

More information on candidates and recordings of the open forums can be found here