Optimistic director fills vacant position
Hope characterizes fresh arrival’s view toward tough job
Published: Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 00:02
Instability and insecurity has been an issue in the Admissions and Records offices across the district for the last few years, but the college is looking to correct that with its hire last month in that department.
Michael Aldaco was hired Jan. 12 to head Contra Costa College's Admissions and Records Office, its third director in four years.
For 30 years, Aldaco worked for the University of California system, working his way up from a counselor at UC Santa Barbara until October, when he was working at the UC President's Office.
"What (Aldaco) brings to us is a very lengthy stellar career as a manager," Senior Dean of Students Frank Hernandez said. "He knows how to deal with systems and work with people. He has a wealth of experience that way."
Despite his inexperience in working with admissions and records, Aldaco has worked in student services since he was hired at his alma mater in 1978 working to help underprivileged and underachieving students.
The 55-year-old San Bernardino native has community college roots, where he was able to continue playing baseball before transferring to UCSB.
In 1975, Aldaco graduated from the college with a degree in sociology and received his master's degree from Cal State-Bakersfield in 1978.
While in college, Aldaco said he became interested in community activism and battling inequality, which drove him toward sociology and his career in the UC.
Aldaco said he worked to gain access for disadvantaged students.
"(I worked to get) information and support to them and enlarge the pool of students prepared to be successful wherever they decided to go (to college)," Aldaco said.
Aldaco worked with high schools while working at the UC office in Oakland, helping teachers, principals and administrators in schools be more successful, he said.
Now at CCC, Aldaco works more directly with students than he did the last few years.
" I was in downtown Oakland with no students," he said. "Now, I'm really pleased to be in sitting in with students everyday."
Furthermore, Aldaco said it is the kind of students he is working with that he appreciates about being at CCC.
"When I grew up in West San Bernardino, it looks a lot like Richmond and San Pablo.
"It pleases me to be able to feel like I'm benefiting students who could have been my peers," he said.
The eagerness he is putting forth and experience he has accumulated were key in hiring Aldaco, Hernandez said. Aldaco's preparation to stay long-term, however, was a deciding factor.
"Our staff is craving stability, consistency," Hernandez said. "He understands needs and stability is top of the list."
Aldaco said he plans to be at CCC for at least a decade, while he enjoys living in West County and its community, diversity and weather.
"I see myself continuing to work for 10 to 15 years," he said. "I look to take what I learned and apply them at the very local, community level."
What may be just as important as what Aldaco has learned, however, is what he is still learning.
As he is still relatively inexperienced with admissions and records, Aldaco is working closely to learn the processes and procedures of the department that has been under a microscope for the last two years in light of the district's problems with grades and records security.
Shondra West and Jeanette Moore, who have been working in the CCC Admissions and Records Office for years, are working to get Aldaco up to speed, what Hernandez calls "interning."
Aldaco said the first thing he learned to do was a monthly audit of grade changes, which was put in place last year under former admissions and records director Ken Blustajn, who resigned last semester.
"I was really impressed with (the) issue of grade change security process," Aldaco said. "I was aware (of it) being an issue in (the) district."
Moore, a former CCC admissions and records director, said she has been training Aldaco on all aspects of the position.
"From registering, admissions, records and involvement with district," Moore said. "I believe he will be a wonderful asset to the Admissions and Records Office."
Contact Brett Abel at email@example.com.