By PAUL CRAIG
Martinez Gazette Contributor
MARTINEZ, Calif. – Dr. Fred Wood became the eighth permanent Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District in January 2017. The District serves over 51,000 students (~25,000 full time equivalent) at three colleges (Contra Costa College (CCC), Diablo Valley College (DVC) and Los Medanos College (LMC) and two centers (Brentwood and San Ramon).
Dr Wood’s main message to Martinez Rotary was that education has always been important, and that going forward its importance will increase. He told us that its important to ‘train to be retrained’, since multiple jobs have become the norm. Typically people hold eight jobs by the time they reach age 40. That’s a huge change from the time he (and I) went to school.
Education has long been and remains a great pathway to upward mobility. Lots of Contra Costa students make the transition to 4-year colleges and especially to UC. One campus, Diablo Valley College takes special pride in being the number one transfer school in CA, and one of the top transfer schools in the nation.
One of the reasons Contra Costa College is successful is that it has programs in place which guarantee that students can transfer. For example, UC Davis has the TAG program (Transfer Admission Guarantee) which guarantees admission to a preferred program and to the major of choice.
Dr. Wood talked about the high cost of living in Northern California. This is a very tough problem, which he is aware of and is working on – but has no solutions.
Food is a huge problem for Community College students, A survey showed that about half (yes, half) the students report that they experience ‘food insecurity’. In response to this every Contra Costa college has a food pantry, where students can obtain healthy food.
The Contra Costa colleges are not only great paths to social mobility, but are relatively cheap paths. The cost of a unit is about half that at UC.
Dr. Wood left us with a flyer that gives some fascinating statistics. Whites are a minority at all the campuses. Females are in the majority at all. The average student age is about twenty-five. African-Americans vary from 20 percent at Contra Costa College to six percent at DVC.
We’re lucky to have the Contra Costa Colleges in our County. We’re lucky to have Dr. Fred Wood aboard, and working to make a great system even better.