By R.J. Heckelman and Andrew Lino
The College of Marin Board of Trustees is comprised of seven trustees and one student trustee. The job of the board is to oversee the operations of the college, and vote on program funding. Essentially they decide how the local tax and government funding will be used. The goal of the trustees is to provide the best possible educational opportunities for the students of College of Marin.
The board controls what classes, and what majors will be offered, depending on the budget. Along with President David Wain Coon, the board supervises the hiring of faculty and instructors at the college.
Three positions on the board will be filled by popular vote on November 5th. It is a countywide election, and on the same ballots as local bond measures. Running for the three openings are incumbents Wanden Treanor, Diana Conti, and Barbara Dolan, as well as new candidate Brady Bevis from Novato.
Bevis is the only newcomer running for a seat on the board. She moved into Marin in 1975. While going to different community colleges for 14 years, she raised five children while working a job as well.
“I really appreciate the value of a good community college education,” Bevis said. Should she get elected, her main goal would be to create partnerships with local businesses in Novato and Central Marin. She would like to have input from local business, so the college knows what classes to fund, and what to teach students, so they can get jobs right when they graduate.
She believes it is the responsibility of the college to teach the most up to date curriculum, and have the most up to date technology available to the students. She wants to create an ongoing conversation with the local business community so that the college can be a hub for job creation in Marin. “I would like to see a more proactive involvement with the community… because we’re preparing their workforce, and we are educating their children,” said Bevis.
Running against Bevis, Barbara Dolan has been on the Board since 1985. She has over 25 years of experience on the board, and is proud to be a trustee for so many years. She is running on the platform that the college needs to appeal to five groups. These groups are the ADA, English as a second language students, transfer students, work-study students, and lifetime education students. Dolan stressed that the board needs more transparency. She’s said more than once, people have said one thing but done another.
Having graduated from San Francisco State University with a life-long teaching credential, Dolan believes having a degree and career before being a board member has given her a valuable perspective on education. “My goal is always to determine what’s best for the students and community. I pay out of pocket to put my name on the sample ballot.”
Her main focus on the board is to promote healthy discussion about important issues. “There needs to be people with questions who say, ‘I have concerns,’” she said, “We say one thing but we do totally the opposite.” She wants to inspire other board members, showing them the importance of honesty. Receiving no donations or endorsements, Dolan takes pride in being an uninfluenced voice for the college community.
Conti, who has been on the board for five years, is the shortest serving trustee. She has worked closely with President Coon trying to resolve the Foundation scandal, which involved foundation board members misappropriating funds that were supposed to be protected. They ended up spending almost $500,000 dollars for restricted, non-budgeted purposes. Conti has since attempted to resolve the situation by performing an audit, and attempting to fundraise to alleviate the situation.
Conti is also the CEO of Parca, an organization dedicated to helping children with developmental disabilities. She has grandchildren that have attended COM, and gone on to graduate from four-year universities. Conti went to Sonoma State, and San Francisco State University, and has lived in the Bay Area her entire life.
Conti’s goal for the board is to increase outreach with the community and surrounding high schools. She wants to improve the functionality of the Indian Valley campus. “I think we need to have a community wide approach to the IVC campus where we’re sitting down with community leaders, with Novato union high school district, with parents and families finding out what they’re looking for,” said Conti.
She also wants to pay off the unfunded liabilities and eliminate COM’s structural deficits. Conti’s approach is that of a fiscally responsible business plan. She plans to incorporate fundraising within the community to help pay off debts. “We have a new internal fundraising department that has raised nearly $500,000, so we need to expand that and keep that up,” she said.
Wanden Treanor’s seat is also up for re-election. She is an active member in the Novato community as well as a practicing lawyer. “It is truly a privilege to serve as one of the trustees of College of Marin. I am excited for all that is happening on both our IVC and Kentfield campuses. I am proud to be a part of this vibrant and dynamic public institution,” she said. She believes that part of being a board trustee is making difficult decisions, but as a lawyer she has a proven track record, and has made plenty of critical difficult decisions that have given her the tools to be a successful trustee.
She wants to support greater fundraising operations, and fully utilize the new modern classrooms. To date she has worked on the Advisory Committee on Educational Services for the Community College League of California, and she was a major played in the Modernization Project. She co-chaired the countywide bond measure in 2004 that led to the new Performing Arts building, Science, Math, and Nursing building, the Fine Arts building, and the soon to be built Academic Center.
Treanor is also a life-long resident of Marin, and attended CSU Chico. She was formally president of 10,000 Degrees, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged youth obtain a higher education. She has also been president of the Marin County Bar Association, and a COM board member since 1996.
President David Wain Coon had this to say about the election, and candidates. “Since I have been here the board and I have worked together to move the college forward, have a common agenda, address the issues that need to be addressed, and make significant progress in the last three years.”
The election for the COM Board of Trustees is on the 5 of November, along with county elections. Mail-in ballots have already been sent, and public polls will be open 7 a.m.