Student Voice

President Luis Sanchez volunteers to temporarily fill vacancy at Oxnard College

President+Sanchez+speaks+to+attendees+of+Multicultural+day+about+the+success+of+Moorpark+College%27s+women%27s+basketball+team+on+Tuesday%2C+April+9.+Photo+credit%3A+Phoebe+Jackels
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President Luis Sanchez volunteers to temporarily fill vacancy at Oxnard College

President Sanchez speaks to attendees of Multicultural day about the success of Moorpark College's women's basketball team on Tuesday, April 9. Photo credit: Phoebe Jackels

President Sanchez speaks to attendees of Multicultural day about the success of Moorpark College's women's basketball team on Tuesday, April 9. Photo credit: Phoebe Jackels

President Sanchez speaks to attendees of Multicultural day about the success of Moorpark College's women's basketball team on Tuesday, April 9. Photo credit: Phoebe Jackels

President Sanchez speaks to attendees of Multicultural day about the success of Moorpark College's women's basketball team on Tuesday, April 9. Photo credit: Phoebe Jackels

By Michelle De Leon

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With only five weeks left in the spring semester, Ventura County Community College District announced that the President and Vice President of instruction would be leaving Oxnard College leaving key leadership positions vacant.

A week later the district announced that Moorpark Colleges President, Luis Sanchez, had been appointed Oxnard College Acting President. The immediate vacancy at Moorpark would be filled by Moorpark College’s Vice President of Instruction, Dr. Julius Sokenus.

According to the press release from the district, they hope to begin the internal search for a new Oxnard College Interim President by mid-May.

“To be honest I volunteered for the assignment,” Sanchez said. “I thought it was an opportunity to do some good.”

According to Sanchez, one of the reasons Moorpark College had to provide support was due to the missing stability at the sister colleges. Ventura College currently has an interim president and Oxnard’s two vacancies limited District Chancellor, Dr. Greg Gillespie.

“To begin with the college needs to go through a healing process,” Sanchez said. “It’s always traumatizing to an institution when their senior leadership, two members of the senior leadership, suddenly depart.”

Sanchez explained that Oxnard College had some “transitional periods” as of late and although he would be temporarily leaving a college he loves, he knows he has a lot to contribute.

“I thought I could bring some stability, some positive energy and the last four years at Moorpark College have been just really positive,” Sanchez said. “We’ve received a lot of national and state-wide acclaim and I would love to help Oxnard College not only heal but reclaim some of its rightful pride.”

The largely Hispanic and first-generation college student population at Oxnard College speak to Sanchez on a personal level. His parents migrated to the United States with only middle school education, but they knew that higher education was the path to success for their children.

“They didn’t know how to advise us so there was a lot of mistakes along the way in terms of choosing a college, choosing a major, choosing a career even, but it ended up being just a great experience for myself and my siblings,” Sanchez said. “It did prove to be the pathway to the American Dream for us and I want to share some of those opportunities and experiences with the students that I’ll interact with.”

Due to the nature of filling positions for college, Sanchez is unsure of when he will be returning to Moorpark.

“It’s a little unclear to me how long the assignment will last. To be honest, my hope is to do good things there until the college wants to choose someone else to do good there,” Sanchez said. “If the assignment lasts a couple of months or years or longer I am going to do the best I can.“

Sanchez is confident that Moorpark College will be in good hands with Sokenu as Acting President.

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Dr. Sokenu will be stepping into the role of acting President immediately and President Sanchez is pulled to Oxnard college Photo credit: Michelle De Leon

Sokenu started as the Dean of Student Learning at Moorpark 12 years ago. He traveled from Connecticut, where he began as a professor in English and Humanities.

“What really attracted me to Moorpark College was the fact that it had an integrated learning model. [It is] unique in the sense that it looked at the student’s whole experience and it felt to design the college around that,” Sokenu said. “Instruction and the student support services were integrated so that there weren’t separate areas and everyone was working together to meet the needs of the whole student.”

Sokenu is excited to continue to work on the college’s mission to prepare students for careers, transferring to four-year schools and being successful in life.

As Vice President of instruction, he has worked with the college’s staff to develop and design the instruction program. As Acting President, he will work closely with the entire establishment and provide executive leadership on everything put together for students and the college community.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue my work in the community college, in particular, this college, in this interim as president,” Sokenu said.

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About the Writer
Michelle De Leon, Editor-in-chief
Michelle De Leon is a journalism student and the Editor-in-chief of the Student Voice. Her passion for storytelling drove her back to school after seven years in sales and looks forward to transferring in the fall to CSUN.
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