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Longtime Administrator : Daniel Means Chosen as Pierce College President

Times Staff Writer

A longtime Los Angeles community college administrator and former coach has been named president of Pierce College, school officials said Thursday.

Daniel Means, 59, was selected to head the 16,000-student Woodland Hills campus by the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees late Wednesday after a six-month search, district spokesman Norman Schneider said.

“Philosophically, my position is to consider what is best for students and future students,” said Means, who lives in Granada Hills with his wife, Meredith.

The president’s office is “a final goal,” said Means, who was vice chancellor of human resources for the nine-campus college district.

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$75,000 a Year

For the last two months, Means has served as acting president of East Los Angeles College.

He is expected to begin his $75,000-a-year job at Pierce by the end of April.

For the last 12 years, Means has worked as the district’s lead negotiator in contract talks with the faculty union.

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That job, he said, has prepared him to work with students, faculty and homeowners who have in the past fought over issues at the campus, such as development of the school’s 200-acre farm.

“I’ve learned to be honest with people and put all the facts out on the table,” Means said.

Means said he is optimistic that he will be able to persuade the different factions of Pierce College to cooperate with his administration.

Large Undeveloped Tract

Homeowners have sought increasing influence over land-use decisions at Pierce, which has one of the last large undeveloped tracts in the west San Fernando Valley.

About half of the 400-acre campus is pastureland used by the school’s agricultural department.

The district’s Board of Trustees has called for a long-range land-use plan for the campus.

Last month, the board refused to allow the San Fernando Valley Fair to use 30 acres of the Pierce campus until such a plan is completed.

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Meanwhile, Means said he plans to ask the troubled agriculture department to begin drawing up its own long-range curriculum plans for his

review.

The department has been split in previous years over how to attract more students.

Means has worked for the college district since 1960, spending his first nine years at Valley College, where he taught physical education and coached the school’s baseball and basketball teams.

He later held administrative positions at Valley, Pierce and Mission colleges.

Means replaces David Wolf, who resigned in the fall to take over as vice president for academic affairs at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County.

Pierce Acting President Jean Loucks will return to her position as the college’s vice president for academic affairs, district officials said.

NEW PRESIDENT’S VIEWS Question: What is your first job at Pierce?

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Answer: To bring all the different constituencies together in one direction, which is to improve the instructional program. I’ll be asking, “What are we doing to improve the college?” I want to get all the facts out on the table so we can seek out a common answer and common goal.

Q: There seems to be little agreement among faculty, students, homeowners and developers.

A: When there is no consensus, the president has to provide leadership. Really, I’m optimistic that we can bring these people together.

Q: What are your plans for the school’s 200-acre farm?

A: I see the farm, just like the classrooms, as instructional laboratories. My first consideration is to see what is needed to improve it, to see what is needed to build a stronger instructional area. . . . I don’t come from an agricultural background, so I don’t know what the full needs are. There will be a land utilization study. After that, and after a review of the program, there will continue to be a viable agriculture program.

Q: What about nearby homeowners’ opposition to development at Pierce?

A: The community should be involved. But the community has to have all the facts. As you know, they are not afraid to give their own recommendations, but I don’t know if so far they’ve been based on facts or emotions. . . . I hope the homeowners will have enough of the information and facts to support the direction we take. I can’t believe that people are so narrow that they would only want what is in their best interest at the expense of the whole community.

Q: Did you support the board’s decision to keep the San Fernando Valley Fair from using the Pierce campus this summer?

A: What the board did was proper. There was no long-range plan for the campus, and everyone was trying to parcel it off in pieces. The master plan will take about three to six months, and I think it should be a top priority.


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