College of the Canyons administrator Eric Harnish has accepted the position of Vice President of Public Information, Advocacy and External Relations at the college, effectively immediately.
In his new position, Harnish will provide strategic leadership to the district’s communications division, including the Public Information Office, Switchboard, Reprographics and Graphic Design departments.
In this position, he will lead in furthering the college’s many goals and objectives through the use of strategic communications, community and media relations, legislative advocacy, public relations and marketing activities.
“It gives me great pleasure to announce Eric’s transition into this new leadership role at the college,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook. “His ability to represent the college at the local, state, and national levels, while serving as a liaison between the college and our many academic, business and community partners, will continue to have a positive impact at the college.
Harnish was originally hired at College of the Canyons in January 2002 as the Special Assistant to the Chancellor, responsible for leading all operational and administrative aspects of the Chancellor’s Office and communicating the Chancellor’s vision to the campus and the community.
In 2004, Harnish had his job duties expanded to also become the college’s Director of External Relations, overseeing the district’s government relations and advocacy activities at the local, state, and national levels.
Most recently, in July 2011 Harnish was promoted to the position of Special Assistant to the Chancellor/Interim Managing Director of Government Relations and Advocacy.
“In addition to managing the daily operations of my office, Eric has worked to cultivate close ties with elected officials who represent College of the Canyons and the Santa Clarita Community College District,” Van Hook said. “Because of his efforts, we have made our voice heard in Sacramento and influenced the outcomes of policy and budget decisions that directly affect our students.”
Harnish currently serves as the Vice President of Community College Public Relations Organization (CCPRO) Board of Directors and is a member of the Association of California Community College Administrators Commission for Finance and Legislative Advocacy.
He has also been a part of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee since 2009.
“College of the Canyons is among the most dynamic colleges anywhere, and I am proud to work here,” Harnish said. “In this position, I look forward to growing our reputation for innovation and partnerships, and ensuring the community and our students better understand how they can access the many resources we have available.”
Prior to his arrival at COC, Harnish worked as a reporter and editor at The Signal from 1994 to 1999.
Harnish earned bachelor’s degrees in Print Journalism and International Relations from the University of Southern California and a master’s of business administration from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
He is also a graduate of the college’s L.E.A.P. (Leadership Education in Action Program) and L.E.A.P. 2 professional development programs.
Harnish and his wife, April, live in Castaic with their four children.