'Best of the Best' : College Head Rated High in U.S. Survey

Times Staff Writer

Rancho Santiago College Chancellor Robert D. Jensen has been named in a national survey as one of the top 50 community college chief executive officers in the nation.

Jensen, who lives in Santa Ana, was selected during a yearlong study by University of Texas researchers who entitled their report "Transformational Leaders in the Community College--The Best of the Best."

The study was published in the June/July issue of the Community, Technical and Junior College Journal, the magazine of the American Assn. of Community and Junior Colleges. The University of Texas researchers, professors in the university's Community College Leadership Program, solicited nominations from community colleges around the nation. A total of 296 community college presidents or chancellors ultimately were nominated. The University of Texas researchers then picked 50, including Jensen, as "the best of the best."

"Obviously, it is always nice to be recognized by your peers," Jensen said in an interview Monday. "That's the ultimate honor . . . but the staff and board in our district do an outstanding job serving our students, and it's as much a recognition of them as it is of me. . . . I'm very pleased for our district and our people."

Arrived in 1984

Jensen became chancellor of Rancho Santiago Community College District, based in Santa Ana, in 1984. Before coming to Orange County, he had been president of American River College and deputy chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, both in Sacramento.

Carol Enos, president of the board of trustees of Rancho Santiago Community College District, praised Jensen for being selected. "This award confirms our confidence in Bob Jensen and our appreciation of his abilities," said Enos. "His work reflects well on the statewide and national reputation Rancho Santiago College has achieved."

Five other California community college chief executives were among those selected in the study as being the top 50 in the nation. They were Thomas Fryer, chancellor of Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, and Robert DeHart, president of DeAnza College, both in Santa Clara County; David Mertes, chancellor of Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento; Peter MacDougall, superintendent of Santa Barbara Community College District, and Tom Van Groningen, chancellor of Yosemite Community College District in Modesto.

"We believe that these leaders and the colleges they represent are accomplishing the dream of access and excellence," said the University of Texas researchers in their report. They said that a follow-up study will be made of Jensen and the other 49 "outstanding" community college leaders. The study, to be published in book form, will focus on "what we can learn from these successful leaders," the researchers said.

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