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News Release

December 22, 2020

Board Holds Organizational Meeting

The Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees, which oversees College of the Canyons, received recognitions for service, swore in recently elected board members, named its new officers, and set its 2021 meeting schedule at the board’s business and organizational meeting held on Wednesday, Dec. 16.

Recognitions for Service
Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) spoke during the virtual meeting, as did Javier Reyes, representative for Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares (AD-38), to recognize outgoing Board President Ms. Michele Jenkins and retiring board member Mr. Steve Zimmer.

Zimmer, who represented Trustee Area 3, retired after serving on the board for eight years.

“You have been a great asset to the college and we’re going to miss you on the board but we’re not going to miss you in the community,” said Wilk. “I wanted to be here to personally thank you for all your years of service and wish you Godspeed in whatever your next adventures are.”

Wilk complimented Jenkins’s leadership as board president during 2020 when the college maintained a high level of service to the community throughout the pandemic.

“I’ve gotten zero complaints from constituents about the services they have received this year from College of the Canyons and this is a testament to all of you working together as a team,” Wilk said.

Speaking on behalf of Valladares, a COC alumna, Reyes spoke of the well-known impact Jenkins and Zimmer have had in public service and private entrepreneurship.

“Suzette greatly thanks each one of you for your service on this board because the innovation and the excellence in education, the seed you have planted over your tenure, will continue to grow,” said Reyes.

“This was a year unlike any other in the history of our college and our community,” said Jenkins, a 36-year member of the board. “From multiple wildfires, to a devastating pandemic, to continuing economic disruption, to the urgent call to address racial injustice, we faced unprecedented challenges.  I am proud, that as a college, we worked together to find solutions and our accomplishments were significant.  We successfully converted 96 percent of our courses to online formats, welcomed our largest-ever Canyons Promise class, achieved numerous distinctions and laid the foundation for continued success by achieving a balanced budget that avoided layoffs or salary cuts among full-time employees.”

Trustee Michael Berger expressed his appreciation for Zimmer’s long commitment to College of the Canyons, which began with his service on the Foundation’s board of directors in 2002. “Access to education opens doors of possibility that leads to life-changing outcomes for our students, and through his many years of service, Steve has made a difference in the lives of thousands of students,” Berger said.  “His dedication to serving others has set an inspiring example for all of us to follow.”

Swearing in of Recently Elected Members
Three board seats were on the Nov. 3 ballot, and the recently elected members were sworn in at the meeting, including Jenkins, who represents Trustee Area 4.  Also sworn in were Dr. Edel Alonso, who represents Trustee Area 2, and newcomer Mr. Sebastian Cazares, who replaces Zimmer in Trustee Area 3.

“College of the Canyons continues to create new possibilities for our community through its focus on innovation and partnerships,” Jenkins said. “It is a privilege and honor to have been re-elected by the voters to serve on the Board of Trustees.  My service is a source of personal pride and honor given what our college has accomplished.  The opening of the Multicultural Center this year was particularly exciting, and we will continue to build on our efforts to create a welcoming environment for all students.  I am looking forward to expanding access for those looking to launch new careers and those who rely on us for the programs, instruction and partnerships that will provide them with needed training and education.  Increasing participation among high school students remains a top priority, and we remain focused on building out the Canyon Country campus to its full potential.”

“I am honored to be elected by the voters for a second four-year term and to be selected by my fellow trustees to serve as president of the board for 2021,” said Alonso. “The year ahead is sure to present many challenges but we will face them with a strong commitment and high expectations for student access, equity, and success. One of my personal priorities is to develop a positive college environment focused on practicing respect, transparency, and the highest ethical standards of conduct. I look forward to working with the members of the board and with the Chancellor to meet these goals.”

Cazares, 20, is the youngest-ever elected official on record in Santa Clarita Valley history. A Saugus resident, Cazares graduated from COC in 2020 and is currently a UCLA undergraduate studying American Politics and Chicano Studies.

“To serve my hometown in a historic moment for the youth has been the greatest honor of my life,” said Cazares, who was appointed by the board to serve as clerk. “I hope to get to work and positively improve my alma mater — advocating for programs that champion transparency, empower the public, promote equity, and ensure quality education for all. I will fight tooth and nail to provide meaningful representation for our students, putting their needs first.”

Selection of Officers
The board voted to appoint Alonso, who was elected to the board in 2016, to the position of President.  Ms. Joan MacGregor, who has been a board member since 1993, was selected to serve as Vice President.  Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook will serve as Secretary-Parliamentarian.

2021 Meeting Schedule
The board also confirmed its meeting dates for 2021, with business meetings typically scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month, and workshops/special sessions scheduled on select fourth Wednesdays throughout the calendar year.  Open sessions begin at 5 p.m., however board meeting start times will be adjusted as needed. Any changes will be noted when the meeting agenda is distributed. The board meets online via Zoom, and meeting dates can be found here.