Dr. Jamillah Moore sat comfortably in her pants suit at her first board meeting last Thursday with the Ventura County Community College District trustees. Listening patiently, adding a comment here and there, and occasionally blowing small bubbles with her gum, it was obvious that the former president of L.A. City College felt right at home as the new chancellor of the district.

Given the challenges the district has faced in the last year, including budget cuts, being placed on probation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Chancellor James Meznek’s early retirement, and a trustee embroiled in the middle of all it all, making such a career move takes a bold and confident person. With Moore’s experience, this won’t be a new ballgame for her. Under her leadership, L.A. City College was reaccredited after being placed on probation. She has also had to make tough decisions, including cutting athletics programs and the school’s newspaper due to lack of funding. Though she was under fire for making such decisions, they mirrored decisions that have been made at the Ventura County Community College District.

Time will tell what Moore can bring to the district, but her no-nonsense attitude, balanced with her approachable demeanor, is sure to change the status quo of doing business. Moore spoke with the VCReporter this week about her decision to come to the district and her vision to get it back on track.

VCReporter: What inspired you to get into education?
Moore: My mother. When she was growing up in the segregated South, opportunities for education were limited and she wanted better opportunities for her children. She always told me education was the great equalizer and that they could never take it away from you. Those words and her experience were my inspiration.

Why did you decide to apply for the chancellor position at Ventura County Community College District?
The district has had some troubled times recently. I am inspired by the District/Board goals and their fiscal accomplishments; it is a very difficult budgetary climate. In addition, I am a product of community college and believe strongly in the mission. Also, I have worked in difficult circumstances before and believe I can make a difference.

What is your vision for the district? What do you hope to accomplish in the next two to five years?
My vision, first and foremost, is to work to address the current circumstances related to accreditation. Fiscal stability. Many community colleges are seeking new approaches to cut costs and improve efficiencies in operating their colleges and still meeting the needs of their communities.  We, too, must explore alternative revenue possibilities as we continue to struggle with an uncertain economy and lack of state funding to educate our students. Also, student success. Moving as many students as possible efficiently and effectively through our doors into jobs and careers, transferring to universities, and obtaining degrees and certificates in fields of their choice.

Where is the district in getting off of probation and keeping its accreditation?

The accrediting commission (ACCJC) meets twice a year in January and June. Ventura is in the process of preparing a status report for ACCJC due in October for their January meeting.  We anticipate the District will be notified by ACCJC regarding their status in February. 

Oxnard College just built up its entire campus. What can be done to attract more students?
Oxnard College continues to offer numerous programs and opportunities that are attractive to students throughout Ventura County in the areas of general education, dental hygiene, dental assisting, the fire academy, marine center, and culinary arts, among others.  In 2010/11, over $250,000 in scholarships were awarded to Oxnard College students in furthering their education.

How can vital programs be saved and fees be kept low in the middle of the state’s budget crisis?

Unlike the UC or CSUs the fees for California community colleges are set by the Legislature. We are hopeful that the Governor’s tax initiative, Proposition 30, will be successful so that it will allow K-14 to sustain some of our vital programs.