Dr. Kathleen Rose, (center in navy blue) talks with trustees, faculty and community members during the coffee held in San Juan Bautista.

— By Jan Janes

Beginning with her appointment by the Gavilan College Board of Trustees in June, new Superintendent/President Dr. Kathleen Rose has focused on creating an environment of engagement with the communities in the district.

Saturday morning coffee and shared ideas

In August, Dr. Rose held open Conversation and Coffee events in each city – Hollister, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and San Juan Bautista – to meet residents, hear their concerns and learn about their ideas. An engagement of listening opened up the diversity of thought in the different areas of the district.

“Some of the folks I met at the coffees I’ve already heard from again or seen on campus,” she said. “Others have followed up with email or invitations to speak at their civic organizations.”

Staff development day becomes a Convocation

Dr. Rose restructured the traditional staff development program, emphasizing the day as both a convening and a commencement. “I wanted to remind everyone that our foundation was not going to be changed with new leadership, that we are all educators, and we’re going to move forward into something new, together,” she said. Everyone participating in the day’s event wore a button proclaiming ‘I am an educator.’

As part of the change, she shared photos and history of her background. Describing her seven-year role as vice president of educational services, “I worked in a very restricted role, a different role, never really sharing a whole lot about myself personally,” Dr. Rose said. “It was important that people get to know me in a more personal role.” Baby pictures helped break the ice, and her family was in the audience.

What are your thoughts, college colleagues?

During the morning session, Dr. Rose asked everyone to get out their smartphones and answer some questions, texting their answers so the responses immediately became visible. She had seen the software at a chancellor’s conference and decided to use it to emphasize campus engagement, noting, “There were some really interesting responses, some gems to share with the college.” 

First day of classes, excitement in the air

In addition to the welcome tents, clubs and services from all areas of the college set up tables, handed out literature and engaged with the students pouring into the fall semester. A photo wall was set up in the student center for first day pictures, school mascot Rocky greeted students, and radio station KDON filled Sycamore Lane with tunes. Rose visited all the departments at the Gilroy campus, then headed to the Hollister and Morgan Hill satellite campuses to meet students and talk about their needs.

Four monthly forums are scheduled through the semester, the first on Sept, 22, allowed staff, faculty and students to ask questions, share their thoughts and continue the engagement. Additional forums will be held during the Thursday college hour 12:50-2 p.m. on Nov. 10 and Dec. 8. Community members are welcome to attend the forums.

Embracing a larger dialogue

Gavilan College plans to host additional Coffee and Conversation meetings in the district for Spring 2017 semester. But the flow of communication is already creating change. “I get in the car every day and can’t wait to get here,” said Dr. Rose. “I am filled with expectation every day.”

If you have thoughts to share, contact Dr. Rose at krose@gavilan.edu or call 408-848-4712. The channels of engagement are wide open.