At 8 a.m., he entered the presiential suite with a dozen boxes, prepared to get set up as soon as possible to personalize the office and make it his own. He wanted to make sure he also had time that day to walk around Las Positas College, introducing himself to people so that he wasn’t just known as “the man in the suit.”
He also wanted to get a taste of campus life before heading over to the District Office to speak with the chancellor and take care of business.
His first order of business, however, was a little more casual.
“Getting to know people’s names. Names are always a chal- lenge. I wish everybody had a name tag. I’ve got mine down,” he joked.
Nov. 25, 2013, marked the official arrival of new Las Positas College President Barry Russell on campus. Replacing interim president Dr. Janice Noble, he will be heading LPC in a permanent position and aiding the faculty and staff of LPC and the district with essential endeavors such as accreditation.
As of now, however, he is just focused on settling in and acclimating to LPC life.
“I don’t plan on solving world peace or any of that in the first week,” Russell said. “Maybe I’ll do that next month.”
Before arriving on campus, Russell sent out an e-mail to the entire campus notifying them of his impending arrival. This e-mail wasn’t intended to elicit a greeting of pomp and circumstance, but so that he could let people know ahead of time who the man in the suit was walking around, introducing himself to students and faculty.
“It’s a beautiful campus, and everyone has been so welcoming,” Russell said. “(It’s a) great day to come and visit.”
Russell has already had a chance to meet several people around campus, including viticulture and science faculty.
He was also able to visit the Transfer Center and the Disability Resource Center.
“I thought him very approachable. He focused on me and I was able to focus on him. I can’t wait to see how he fills those shoes,” said alternative media technology specialist Karen Zeigler.
Approachable was a word that several used, in fact, when describing Russell.
“My first impression of Dr. Russell is that I find him very personable, very approachable and all around friendly,” said Special Student Services receptionist Constance Hildebrand.
“I think he was very personable and friendly, and seemed very easy to talk to and approachable,” added Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) test facilitator Kelly Pettis.
Along with meeting members of the LPC community, Russell has been able to get a little taste of campus life. He was able to attend the second annual LPC women’s basketball tournament.
“Las Positas was winning when I left,” he said. “It looked like they had everything under control.”
He was also able to view a Friday night showing of “Fahrenheit 451.”
“I met Wendy (Wisely), the director,” Russell said. “It was very well done. That’s a really tough play. I liked how she included a lot of diversity in the cast.”
Originally from Texas with degrees and teaching experience in music, Russell is also looking forward to the end of semester recitals performed by a variety of LPC’s performing arts students.
“I look forward to being on campus and going to those things,” Russell said. “All those concerts are on my schedule. I’ll try to make as many of them as I can.”
Along with acclimating to LPC life, Russell is also focused on set- tling into his office and setting everything up. Part of the plan is making his office more personable.
“I have boxes of art, (and I’m) trying to figure out where I’m going to put all of this stuff,” Russell said. “It’s kind of hard to hang things on the windows. I don’t want to put a lot of holes in the walls. It may take me awhile to figure out how exactly I’m going to do this. I love art and making it individual so that when people come in, they may see some kind of art that speaks to them.”
After settling in, Russell will then get down to business and tackle the administrative side of the president’s role. With the help of faculty such as Noble, who has returned to her position as Vice President of Academic Services, and Diana Rodriguez, Vice President of Student Services, he will begin attending meetings and transitioning to fill the permanent position of president, last held by Dr. Kevin Walthers.
“I think the good thing is that Dr. Noble has been here the last two months. She kind of knows where everything is and what’s going on, so the first two weeks she and I are going to just be spending a lot of time together,” Russell said. “She’ll be going with me to all the meetings, district meetings, to just make sure that there’s a transition and some of the questions people ask that I don’t have the history for, she’ll be able to provide some of that.”
Within the next couple of weeks, Russell will continue to settle in and meet people around campus, along with taking on the responsibilities of school president with the help of faculty such as Noble and Rodriguez.
The transition will soon be over. The permanent position of LPC school president is no longer empty, and Russell’s name will be hanging by the door with his art and determination to lead the school in a brighter direction.
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