Fresno City College’s new president says she has a simple short-term plan for when she starts work on Aug. 1: listen.
“You need to see what’s really working,” Carole S. Goldsmith said Wednesday. “Having been a partner and neighbor of Fresno City College, I see a lot of things working really well. I believe in the old saying, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ ”
State Center Community College District’s board approved Goldsmith’s hiring Tuesday night. Fresno City has lacked a permanent president since Tony Cantú died in April 2015. Goldsmith said her annual salary will be about $212,000.
Goldsmith, who lives in Fresno, is the current president of West Hills College Coalinga.
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She plans to listen to community leaders and constituent groups. Goldsmith said she will honor current commitments and deliver on existing programs before implementing her own new plan. But when she embarks on her new plan, she will schedule an open forum and make sure the public remains fully informed.
Goldsmith’s attitude toward creating a new plan reflects her great pride in Fresno City. She said it has some of the finest career and technological education programs in the state and that it trains a majority of first responders in Fresno.
“We are putting people to work in an area that really needs it,” she said. “We are the gateway to opportunity.”
Goldsmith said she wants to build on her longstanding ties to Fresno Unified School District and Fresno State, improve the community college’s transfer rates and continue to put graduates to work.
She’s quick to acknowledge the college’s contributions as an educational and cultural mainstay to Fresno’s employment opportunities and quality of life.
“You can’t be a gateway of opportunity and not make a vast improvement in our city,” Goldsmith said. “I’m just going to try and build on that success and remind people of that success.”
Chancellor Paul Parnell said Goldsmith “has impressive experience as a president who is dedicated to student success.”
Lucy Ruiz, a district spokeswoman, said Goldsmith has more than 25 years of higher education experience, including senior leadership positions at West Hills College Community District, as a college instructor and as a vice principal at Caesar Chavez Adult Education in Fresno.
Goldsmith decided to end her 14 years at West Hills for two reasons. She wants to be with her family in Fresno, including her son who just returned from the military and her young grandson. She also wants to provide stability to the college following the unexpected death of Cantú, which sent shock waves through the community.
Goldsmith, a first-generation college student from Visalia, earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Fresno State, her master’s in educational administration from National University in Fresno and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, Davis, and Fresno State, Ruiz said.
She was one of three finalists for the post, along with James Limbaugh, interim president of Oxnard College, and Peter Maphumulo, vice president for instruction and student services at Victorville’s Victor Valley College. In June, each appeared at a public event where they made their pitches on why they should be the college’s next president.
At the public event, all three candidates discussed the hot topics in higher education: student and faculty diversity and professional development among teachers and staff. On both of these issues, Goldsmith had something to say.
“Fresno City College lives diversity as one of its core values,” she said. “We are committed to celebrating individual differences. I believe we have to look at diversity on a much broader sense: diversity of ideas and how we communicate to one another. While we may not all agree, we need to continue to be respectful of others’ ideas.”
Goldsmith said during her tenure at West Hills, she successfully connected the college to the right grants and plans so it could provide opportunities for teacher and staff training, something she plans to continue at Fresno City.
Fresno City has a culture of being a learning-centered college, Goldsmith said. “Learning-centered” means teachers and staff learn in addition to students, in areas including environmental stewardship and the newest educational technology.
As for West Hills, Goldsmith is confident in the succession plan in place and the abilities of interim president Stuart Van Horn while the college conducts a national search.
“Having somebody at the helm who has some institutional understanding and experience is key to making sure the institution stays on the right course,” she said. “We’ve done it here, West Hills will do it there.”