G. H. Javaheripour
President of Yuba College
By Bro. Eden Douglas
For almost four decades, G.H. Javaheripour, Ed.D. has dedicated his life to service in public higher education, spanning the academic, student services and administrative services arenas. Dr. Javaheripour began his higher education career at the University of New Mexico in 1978, and his community college career at UNM-Gallup Community College in 2001 when he was named Director of Business Operations. Since then, Dr. Javaheripour has served in executive leadership roles at Santa Fe Community College, Chabot College and Victor Valley College. In 2015, Dr. Javaheripour was appointed President of Yuba College in Marysville, California, a community college providing education and training to students in three counties. In his prior roles, Dr. Javaheripour was instrumental in developing an extended education network across the United States to deliver courses and programs in thirteen states and territories, from Puerto Rico to Arizona. He also developed networks to deliver Bachelor and Masters’ degree programs and K-12 and advanced placement classes to rural communities in New Mexico.
Dr. Javaheripour has held residence in Albuquerque since 1975. He is married to Patsy Maestas-Javaheripour, who taught in both Albuquerque and Bernalillo Public Schools. His daughters, and their families, also reside in Albuquerque.
Higher Education faces a great deal challenges and opportunities, here in New Mexico, and across the country. As you think about CNM’s future specifically, how would you describe its most significant challenges as well as its greatest opportunities?
This is sort of a homecoming for me. I’ve been in New Mexico since 1975. We lived in the North Valley where I still maintain a residence where my wife, my daughters and grandchildren still live and although I work in California, I commute back and forth. As for the challenges of higher education, it all goes back to budgets, enrolment and funding, because without those, nothing else happens. Our enrolment goes contrary to the economic conditions of the country; when the economy takes a downturn, community colleges enrolment increases. In order to have a steady ride of income and revenue, we’ve got to be able to think about how to predict our enrolment as much as five to ten years out. We can do this by looking at the data concerning birth rates and within a small percentage of error, we can identify how many students will be graduating from public school in a given year and what is our share of that student population. We have to proactively consider how we can pipeline those students into our community college enrolment.
It happens that in California, Guided Pathways tracks student’s aptitudes and colleges that are part of this program, have access to this data that allows us to identify, early on, potential students and their unique needs. With CNM’s participation in this program, we can work with counsellors and teachers and assist in helping students not to meander, and focus on the subjects that will make their college experience, more beneficial, identifying CNM as the most likely progression to achieve their goals, because of this early interest in their education. This is obviously a long term goal. In fact, it’s taken as much as 18months for the faculty to come aboard, to implement this program at my present college (Yuba), so I know this has to work from inside, out, and it begins with the faculty of the community college. In the short run, we have to think about what we can do about enrolment, now. It begins with supporting the students that are interested and helping them create a path to the goals they desire, with guided faculty support, especially in doing the online studies. We need to have a system in place that spoon feeds the new students ‘till there’s an obvious rhythm in place, especially when they go home to do their assignments. Tutoring is crucial, we need a system in place that ‘taps’ these students on the shoulder when we see them failing to turn in homework on time or those with extended absences. Sending an email or text to check in, works wonders. So, what’s in front of us? It’s planning, in order to be relevant, but to implement those plans, we have to have resources which means enrolment and we have to think about all of this in short and long term perspectives. Saving up in the years when enrolment is down, as predicted by that data on birth rates, to be sustainable in the years when enrolment is up.
In community colleges, there are three pillars: one is basic and remedial education, the other is transfer programs to degreed universities and the third one is applied tech. For those members of our communities that need a trade and wish to become producers, and earn income within 18months, applied technologies is crucial. It is also the most direct service to our local communities as the education reflect the jobs most needed in the community. In order to support this, we have to have the latest equipment, because their potential employers will. I am formally committed to seeing those students trained for excellence once they graduate. Because those graduates will eventually have their own companies and will be invested in hiring students from the school that produced them.
Our students live with their phones. They die without that access to social media. I feel if they lose their phones, half of their life disappears. Our enrolment services, rightly so, are supported by this technology. Students register, purchase books, interact with one another and do homework, with technology. It is not an option for us, it’s a must. We need to support our faculty to structurally integrate their courses with more technology, especially, as we launch the comprehensive Attend Anywhere methodology that will increase the amount of technology and support needed to be successful. The drawback is that when we teach face to face, you can scan a classroom and see who is understanding your assignments and who isn’t connecting, but in digital modality, this isn’t possible. So there’s a level of support needed to understand the psychological and relational aspects of this teaching tool. But when I also think of technology, I’m not just thinking digitally. There’s technology interwoven in the applied technologies, as well. Most of the equipment, now, has some technological aspect to it. So we need a budget, a master technology plan, that reflects out true needs, presently and going forward.
With Adjunct Faculty at CNM representing nearly 70% of total faculty, what is your relationship to this group at your present college? What do you see as the role of adjunct faculty and what is your direction or vision for them in your administration?
Well I was an adjunct faculty, so I understand that in most colleges, this group is a mainstay and most integral. As a rule, because of the work schedule, you’re not represented in the governing board of faculty. Presently, I have a program that allows adjunct faculty to paid an hourly rate to attend those meetings and I’ve instituted a program that recognizes outstanding members of this group in a year end ceremony. The reason the number is imbalanced is economic because of all the built in incentives that are part of the faculty packages, so there has to be a reliance on adjunct faculty. I’m not sure I’ve answered your question, unfortunately, it is what is it, but I am sympathetic that there is something more we need to do about it.