Michele Lecrivain | In Defense of the Chancellor

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

My husband, Julien, and I arrived in the Santa Clarita Valley in July 1973. As former students at Orange Coast College, we were happy to find College of the Canyons already established just a couple of miles up the hill.

The reputation of COC was not what it is today. Literally every counselor at the high schools derisively referred to our local community college as “College of the Crayons.” While I never believed that was accurate, it is part of SCV’s history.

When Dianne Van Hook arrived, things began to change. What had been a good college began its journey to a great college. It didn’t happen without the constant, dedicated work of the chancellor. The modest campus nestled in the hills next to Interstate 5 became a much larger, beautiful school on two sites: the first in Valencia and the second in Canyon Country.

What had been a college housed at Hart High School offering associate’s degrees became a place where students could work on bachelor’s and other degrees in partnership with traditional four-year schools out of the area. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department established a second academy campus at COC. It could have gone anywhere in the county, but it didn’t. It settled in at COC.

When I was a member of the Business Advisory Committee at COC, I got to see and appreciate Chancellor Van Hook as one of the most dedicated, hardworking people I have ever met. I don’t believe there is a time when she isn’t thinking about how she can offer more to this community.

I could fill the entire editorial page with the many accomplishments of Dr. Van Hook. However, what most concerns me today is the current Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees and their (apparent) attempt to send Chancellor Van Hook packing.

The questionable behavior of board member Joan MacGregor regarding her future resignation way ahead of her actual date of leaving has cheated the voters in her district of their right to choose their own board member. It was astounding to read that she believes it to be a good thing. 

If the board is unhappy with the chancellor, in what way is she failing? What is their complaint? After such a meritorious tenure that profited every household in the SCV, the board needs to let us know the “why.” 

Remember that the population being served by COC is in excess of 300,000. Remember that this board is about to be 40% appointed, which means that the voters had no say. Ms. MacGregor sees that as a good thing, but one wonders if the voters in her district see it in the same light.

It is time for everyone, particularly the board of trustees, to treat Van Hook with the respect and gratitude she has earned these past 36 years. It is also time for the board to cease the elitist, superior attitude that appointing members to their ranks is preferred. The only thing you can be sure of, besides that voters get no choice, is that applicants can be counted on as loyal to the union and that they will be beholden to the members who chose them.

It all sounds very self-serving, whereas Dianne Van Hook has been anything but self-serving in the whole of her tenure. What has taken decades to build can tragically disappear in no time. Local partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations helped Van Hook to create COC. The board that earned a score of 43% on the campus culture survey on their ability to lead the college, is a far cry from the 90-plus scores earned by the chancellor.

It is ultimately about vision. The board’s vision seems to be about control and importance, while Dianne’s vision has always been about creating an outstanding college to best serve this community, students, organizations and businesses. It is time for the board of trustees to quickly find ways to work with her to create an even more amazing COC.

Michele Lecrivain


Related To This Story

Latest NEWS