Joseph Gerda | Jenkins’ Committed Service Needed

Letters to the Editor
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As a recently retired faculty member and administrator at College of the Canyons, I ask you to join me in reelecting Michele Jenkins to the Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees, District 4. I can tell you from personal experience that we need Michele’s outstanding, compassionate and committed service to continue. 

Michele cares deeply about our college and its students. She listens. She champions innovative programs that help our students succeed and that often become a model for other colleges to follow. She celebrates our successes because she knows they represent progress for our students and community. She is an outstanding trustee and college representative. 

Michele’s leadership was clearly evident when she supported abolishing a national placement exam process in which a transferring student from a university such as UC Berkeley could be deemed “remedial and unfit” to take our transfer-level courses. The problem was not with the student, but with the test. Michele supported the dismantling of this systemically damaging and demoralizing process across California. She was also present when the college received the statewide Chancellor’s Student Success Award based on these efforts of the mathematics and English departments, and college administration. This work was later used as a model for state legislation that imposes common-sense restrictions on these placement tests – and led to a doubling of graduates over the past nine years, even as enrollments remain stable. 

Michele is a strong advocate for removing barriers to education. She generously funds scholarships so students receive the financial support they need, as well as the moral support that such guidance and funding provide. She also supports the OER (Open Educational Resources) movement to eliminate the high cost of textbooks, as well as many other worthwhile initiatives. 

Having had the privilege of serving as vice president of instruction at COC on several occasions, I have many firsthand experiences interacting with Michele. She is strong and courageous, kind and caring, and a professional in every sense of the word. She is a proponent of professional development opportunities for all staff members as a reflective practice that improves individual and group capacity, and helps them better serve the community. She is empathic and fully understands that employees help make the college an amazing place to work or take classes. 

Michele is also a part of the history of the college. She and her husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins, were members of the very first graduating class. Their children attended COC. She has dedicated 36 years of her life as a board member. And, she has hired most, if not all, faculty members and administrators currently working at the college. 

I know that Michele Jenkins always has the best interests of students, staff and the community at heart when making decisions, and I urge you to reelect her to District 4 of the Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees on Nov. 3. 

Joseph Gerda

Retired Faculty/Administrator, COC

Santa Monica

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