Serving as the interim Vice President, the North Orange County Community College District board voted unanimously in support of Rodrigo Garcia’s permanent position as the Vice President of Administrative Services for Fullerton College on March 14.
The position name is a mouthful, and the duties moreso.
“There’s a lot of meetings involved,” Garcia said. “My position oversees campus safety, facilities, bookstore, food services, there’s a lot of different aspects. Just making sure everything is going smoothly.”
After studying accounting at Citrus College, he later obtained an accounting degree from Cal Poly Pomona. Garcia explained that the subject is not the sole focus of his current position.
“A lot of it isn’t accounting,” he revealed, “You’d be surprised how many day to day things pop up, from emergency repairs here and things of that nature.”
Garcia then began working for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm, auditing community colleges in the NOCCCD, where he had his first encounter with the district.
He then acquired the position as manager at NOCCCD, where he came to be familiar with FC President Greg Schulz, who was dean of instruction and student services at the district’s School of Continuing Education.
Working closely with Schulz, Garcia began to develop a well-fostered relationship with him that lead to a great work atmosphere.
“That’s one of the things that attracted me to this job. I wanted to work with Greg. I admire him, and I thought I’d be able to learn a lot from him on the educational side.”
Working in the manager’s office at NOCCCD, Garcia did not get the full picture of actually working at a community college, but once he started working with Schulz, Garcia got a deeper insight into how education really works and how students live day to day.
“That’s one of the appeals; I get to learn a side [of education] that I wouldn’t necessarily get from the office,” Garcia said.
To the vice president, working with Schulz feels natural. From a work question to personal advice, the two operate well together, a feeling Garcia has had with the rest of the administrative staff.
“To tell you the truth, I feel like that with the entire [staff], from [V.P. of Student Services] Gilbert Contreras to [V.P. of Instruction] Jose Ramon Nunez. We all have a great working relationship,” Garcia added.
He aspires to grow as a leader and bring his ideas and experience with finance and facility to the Fullerton College team. But mostly, he wants to learn.
“With the expertise I bring about finance, compliance, and construction, I think I’m gonna be able to parlay that experience with everybody else’s to move the college forward into the future.”
Garcia has been to every board meeting since working for Fullerton College, even working closely with student government, noting the new passion he observes in today’s students.
“I’m amazed how involved students are with this school,” Garcia explained, “It’s nice to see how invested they are in campus.”
Student involvement and passion for Fullerton College reminds Garcia why he loves working on campus rather than in his old office.
“I was at the district for ten years, but no matter how many times you visited the campuses, you don’t feel that sense of ownership,” Garcia admitted, “You’re on campus and you feel that pride, like ‘this is campus, these are my students.’”
The position has been a fickle one, most who hold the job spend two years before leaving for a different prospect, but Garcia hopes to remain on campus and feel the Hornet pride for the long haul.
“I call this district my home,” Garcia said, “I’m proud of where I am. I’m proud to say I was part of the success of this college.”