Fresno City College Presidency, Who Will Be The New Face

The four final candidates competing for the position of FCC presidency.

Photo by: Ashlan Molina

The four final candidates competing for the position of FCC presidency.

Story By: Krystle Nozartash and Ashlan Molina

Four final candidates competed for the position of Fresno City College president on April 19, during an over four-hour long in-person and live stream forum, where each candidate stated their claims and priorities for the campus. The position is currently held by Interim President Marlon Hall.

The finalists selected by State Center Community College District Chancellor Carole Goldsmith   are FCC’s Vice President of Student Services Lataria Hall, FCC Vice President of Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness Robert Pimentel, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Vice President for Student Success Cory Clasemann, and Vice President of Student Services at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa CA. Madjid Niroumand. 

Meeting The Four Candidates

Lataria Hall, a Fresno resident of over 30 years, describes herself as a first generation graduate with 16 years experience in higher education who has been the FCC vice president of Student Services for over four year. 

Aside from her position at FCC she is president of the California Community colleges, chief Student Services Association, and advocates for additional resources to insure the services needed for the 116 colleges that serve 1.9 million students.

“…If you look at the lineup of the individuals that will be speaking today, you will see that I am the only female, and I am the only African American,” Hall said. “Our community is a community of minorities. This role is a role that has been dominated heavily by males. It is time for that narrative to change.”

She addressed the overall decline in enrollment, saying there is an 18% decline in FCC overall enrollment with the greatest decline being men and men of color.

“I definitely don’t see online courses shrinking. One thing that we learned through the pandemic was that our students were getting it done, and they liked online learning, it provided that flexibility,” Hall said.” They were successful, if they weren’t we would not have had record-breaking graduation rates.”

Robert Pimentel, the current FCC Vice President of Educational Services and Institutional Effectiveness, for about four years and with over 18 years of experience in education from West Hills Community College District. 

He described his background as having combined experience in instruction and student services, institutional research and planning, career technical education, contract education, grants, adult education, and special programs.

“I really, truly believe that we need to have access to our students, and we need to continue to offer online classes as much as possible,” Pimentel said. “I also feel that we need to be on campus. I also feel that we need to come back as much as possible, because students that interact with other students and students that are engaged in activities on campus.

He’s a bilingual Fresno County native and first generation California Community College graduate who transferred to California University, Fresno State. He shared his lived experiences of poverty growing up.

Pimentel’s priorities for FCC as its president would be to focus on racial equity and enrollment declines, and reaching men of color. ”I am determined to make sure that our LGBTQ students, our African American students, our Hispanic, our Hmong students and our students with disabilities which are a part of our disproportionately impacted populations, feel supported and completing their education, so they can be the next generation of leaders in our community,” he said.

“I think, because of my passion for race equity and just equity work as a whole, I think I could be a partner to many of the universities, and work with industry partners to make sure that we start to close that gap.” Pimentel said.

Madjid Niroumand, vice president of Student Services at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa is a graduate of a California Community College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in operations and management, and master’s and doctorate degrees in business administration, and has over 20 years of experience in higher education.

He arrived as a refugee from Iran, and began schooling at Clovis Adult School when he lived in Fresno with a brother before leaving for Southern California to continue his college studies.

Niroumand would like to put some focus on fiscal management and “enrollment management through an equity lens.”

Cory Clasemann, vice president for Student Success at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana has 23 years of higher education experience in two-year and four-year colleges. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication, a master’s in organizational management, and a Ph.D. in higher education. 

Clasemann would like to focus on recruiting older adults who already have a degree, never went to college, or didn’t complete college. 

“My passion is really about  helping to reduce barriers, promote equity, and create economic upward mobility opportunities so that students can create a better life for themselves,” Clasemann said.

“Could I be the face? Yes. Could I represent the college in every aspect? No,” Clasemann said. “And I don’t think that’s necessarily the president’s job.” 

Clasemann then discussed how he would use his race to promote equity. “I also believe that as a white man it is imperative and critical upon me to use my privilege to help move us forward,” he said.” Because it is only at that point, when we all work together and I use my privilege as a white man to be able to move these causes in the right direction.”

All candidates shared similar responses to finding value in maintaining online classes. However, Clasemann, the last speaking candidate believes, “Students learn better in-person.”

Lucy Ruiz, the State Center Community College District public information officer said that Chancellor Goldsmith’s recommendation for the position will go to the Board of Trustees for a vote. Depending on contract negotiations, the appointment could be on the May or June board agenda.