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Ohlone Community College Welcomes First Black Superintendent President

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Dr. Eric Bishop was recently named the seventh Superintendent/President of the Ohlone Community College District and the first Black president in the district’s history.

While some institutions of higher learning stopped their hiring processes Ohlone, with campuses in Fremont and Newark, has not.

After being hired solely through virtual interviews because the shelter-in-place order was in effect, Bishop took the reins on July 1, 2020. 

Bishop embraces the challenges of heading up a community college that will remain online in the fall. 

In an interview conducted virtually from his campus office in Fremont, he said he was looking forward to the challenges the college faces especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He is “not afraid of [his] shadow,” he said.

Bishop sees Ohlone as being present for the community during the “economic tsunami” and an “engine to retrain” the population.

 “I look forward to further strengthening the academic foundation here at the college and am eager to work with a dedicated team of faculty, staff, and administrators to best support our students in their goals,” Bishop said.  

Ohlone was established in 1965 and is part of the California Community College system offering associate degrees and opportunities to transfer to a four-year college. There is also a campus in Newark.  

Ohlone’s student population is 2% Black, 12% Latinx, 17% multiethnic and 69% Asian.  There were 7,600 students enrolled in the spring of 2020. 

Athletic activities have been suspended and there will be some necessary in-person interactions on campus.  

Acknowledging the digital divide, there are plans to create hotspots for internet access for students to use on campus. Recognizing further that home is not always a haven for research and study, safe accommodations will also be provided on campus with details to come.

The global issues of the pandemic are front and center and Bishop sees them as three-fold:

  1. To emerge from the pandemic safely for both staff and students.
  2. To thrive and examine how to educate better and be the best, and 
  3. To engage racial equity and social justice issues.

“This is a complex and challenging time in higher education given the impact of the pandemic and the following economic fallout, but there are also very positive shifts happening in our world with the unveiling of the injustices in our African-American community and the Black Lives Matter movement forcing people to see what people of color have had to face,” Bishop said.

“It’s an opportunity for open dialogue, to learn from one another as one human race, and to use education as a tool to lift ignorance.”

He is eager to have conversations that we have been having in the Black community, now openly and honestly and authentically in communities at large.

Bishop has Southern California roots, coming most recently from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga as the associate superintendent of Student Services and Legislative Engagement.

He has a doctorate in organizational leadership (Ed.D.), a master’s in communications, and a bachelor’s in journalism all from the University of La Verne in La Verne, Ca.  

He is also chairman of the Bethany Theological Seminary Board of Trustees in Richmond, Indiana.

 

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