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Change Is in the Air

Change has been rare in the administration of the huge San Diego Community College District since it was established in 1973. Chancellor Garland Peed served from 1976 until 1988, and four of the original five members of the Board of Trustees are still on the board. The fifth trustee has served since 1981.

But change, nevertheless, is in the air.

The district has just hired a new chancellor, William Wenrich, to oversee its three colleges--Mesa, Miramar and City--and 10 adult education centers, which together serve more than 95,000 students. Wenrich, who wants to concentrate on academic programs, seems to be drawing good reviews so far.

Also, Gov. George Deukmejian recently signed a major reform bill for the state’s community colleges, which is intended to upgrade the two-year schools so they will be treated more like colleges than “super-high schools.”

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Both these changes give added emphasis to this fall’s races for two seats on the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees. One seat, in District D, is open because member Richard Johnston is retiring.

Running for the District D seat are Evonne Schulze, a former member of the California Community College Board of Governors and former director of community education for San Diego city schools, and write-in candidate Julian Wulburn, a San Diego State University professor who ran primarily to preempt another write-in candidate in the primary.

We recommend Schulze, whose experience on the board of governors could prove especially valuable under the reform legislation, which gives the statewide board a stronger voice. She has a long record of public service and would bring enthusiasm to the job.

The other seat, in District B, pits long-term incumbent Gene French, pastor of Community Bible Church of Scripps Ranch, against Fred Colby, director of development for the San Diego Foundation for the Performing Arts.

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French has served on the board since it separated from the San Diego city schools board in 1973, and he served on the school board before that. So he has had a hand in community college administration for more than 20 years.

French, president of the board, points to the development of City College in the 1970s and the recently improved transfer programs with SDSU and UC San Diego as major accomplishments of his tenure.

But, in looking forward, he cites little other than the overdue development of the Miramar campus. He seems to put no particular emphasis on the new reform legislation or the opportunities inherent in a change of chancellors.

Colby, by contrast, seems full of energy for the job and has garnered a broad spectrum of endorsements from community leaders. He wants to establish closer working relationships with members of the Legislature and other community leaders. And he seems willing to tackle the thorny issue of the district’s foundation, the subject of a lawsuit by faculty members who say foundation funds are misused.

It’s not that we find great fault in French. The district during his tenure has come through tough financial times in better shape than many around the state.

But the time has come for new ideas and new energy. We urge votes for Fred Colby and Evonne Schulze.


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