Community college leader earns high marks

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Steve Kinsella became president of Gavilan Community College at
a difficult time. Although the school faced many challenges such as
the state budget crisis threatening services, programs and jobs
surely topped Kinsella’s problem list.
Steve Kinsella became president of Gavilan Community College at a difficult time. Although the school faced many challenges such as the state budget crisis threatening services, programs and jobs surely topped Kinsella’s problem list.

Kinsella quickly showed his common sense, proactive, collaborative leadership style when facing the budget crisis. One of his early moves was to combine two vice-president positions, saving the school significant funds while showing a willingness to tighten the school’s belt at all levels.

Then he convened a budget work group to make recommendations on where to make budget cuts. His deft handling of the budget crunch boosted employee morale and avoided drastic cuts in services and jobs.

Kinsella has continued to be proactive in dealing with the school’s chronic Title IX issues with women’s sports and the upcoming development in Coyote Valley. Kinsella and Gavilan have taken giant steps toward bringing four-year degree programs closer to South Valley residents with programs with San Jose State University and California State University Monterey Bay.

Those close-working arrangements will become even more valuable as CSU and University of California spots become increasingly harder to land for high school graduates due to the state budget mess.

In short, Kinsella has raised the bar for public agency heads in South Valley. Municipal and education institutions alike would do well to study and model his leadership style.

Gavilan College has the potential to become an even bigger part of the region’s economic engine. It already supports small businesses with the Small Business Development Center. Current plans – admittedly in the very early stages – for a biotech center at the college could entice companies to locate businesses in South Valley, bringing jobs and tax revenue with them. The development in Coyote Valley, which falls within Gavilan’s borders, has potential to do great harm or great good to South Valley. Kinsella’s patient, but persistent work to gain a voice for the college should help to make sure we see more benefits than problems when the valley has 80,000 residents.

Here’s a way to give back to this key South Valley institution: Gavilan is seeking seven citizens from the Gavilan Community College district to serve on an oversight committee for the school’s recently approved $108 million bond. The committee members will observe and report back to the community on the progress of facilities projects and their conformity to the bond’s goals. Committee members should live in the district, and may not be district employees, contractors or vendors.

They should have an ability to read and understand complex financial reports. For more information, call (408) 848-4711 or visit www.gavilan.edu/pio/bond.html.

It’s easy to take the community college for granted, but with Kinsella’s sure-footed leadership, that should become harder to do.

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