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The Lookout | April 19, 2021

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Robinson talks about LCC presidency

Robinson talks about LCC presidency

By Robin Morales
Associate Editor

Owens Community College President Steve Robinson answered 29 questions in the two hours allotted to him May 6 during the second presidential candidate open forum.

Robinson was the second of four finalists for the position to be interviewed this week.

The online forum was moderated by LCC Dean of Community Education and Workforce Development Bo Garcia. Robinson drew from his varied experience in community colleges to answer questions related to student enrollment and equity for homeless students.

“One of the things I love to do,” Robinson said, “is to be that excited person who really extols the virtues of community colleges … We help individuals and families change their lives.”

When asked how he will increase and stabilize student enrollment at LCC, Robinson said: “Smart proactive enrollment growth is knowing which programs (LCC) really wants to grow. And, for me, I’m always at a bias toward which ones will help those students lift up their families.

“That’s the social mobility mission (of community colleges).”

Robinson also spoke about his leadership at Owens Community College throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m a big believer in what I call ‘radical transparency’ when it comes to the sharing of information,” Robinson said. “Specifically, with the crisis, what we’ve wanted to do, is communicate to students, faculty and staff primarily about health and safety … in a number of platforms.”

According to Robinson, an effective community college president is mindful of the physiological needs that homeless students often go without.

“One of the things that we’ve done at our community college, that I continue to advocate for, is acknowledging that students have a lot of needs that go well beyond the walls of the classroom,” Robinson said.

“We have a food pantry on both of our campuses. Those food pantries, I’m very proud to tell you, are still up and running and distributing food right now.”

In closing, Robinson reiterated his appreciation for LCC by sharing the story of his father-in-law, an LCC student in the late 1950s.

“(LCC is) important to me, not just because that’s where I got my start,” Robinson said. “You’re also really important to my family.

“One of the things that I would love to do, as president of Lansing Community College, is to connect with students, to connect with faculty. It feels like coming home for me.”

The LCC Board of Trustees will continue hosting candidate forums May 7 and 8, starting at 6 p.m. each day, by WebEx. The schedule for the upcoming forums is as follows:

* Thursday, May 7: Dr. Dale Nesbary; moderated by Tonya Bailey.

* Friday, May 8: Dr. Elaine Collins; moderated by Mark Cosgrove.

The Lookout will cover each of the forums and will publish an online story the following day about each of the candidates.

The new president will replace Dr. Brent Knight, who is retiring June 30 after 11 years at LCC.