Article - Office of College Advancement

Three candidates apply for Ohlone board vacancy

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

NEWARK—Ohlone College trustees next week are scheduled to choose one of three applicants to temporarily fill the board seat of Bill McMillin, who died earlier this year.

The applicants for the seat representing Newark on the community college board are Janice Schaefer, a Newark Unified School District board member; Vivien Larsen, a retired Newark school counselor and administrator; and Aref Aziz, an Ohlone student and volunteer for local Democratic politicians.

The board is scheduled to interview the candidates and appoint McMillin's successor during a public meeting May 11.

The new trustee will serve until the next regularly scheduled Ohlone election in November 2012, when voters will decide who will serve out the remaining two years of McMillin's term.

Aziz, 19, is in his second year at Ohlone and plans to attend Santa Clara University in the fall. He volunteered on Jan Giovannini-Hill's successful campaign for the Ohlone College board last year, and he has interned at local offices for state Sen. Ellen Corbett and Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski.

With Ohlone bracing for additional state funding cuts, Aziz said he would look to state and federal politicians to generate more funds or grants for the school.

He said the biggest concerns for students are getting the classes they need and obtaining services to help them succeed. "I think that my background as a recent student is an advantage," he said. "I know the issues the college is facing."

Larsen, 70, is a former vice principal at Newark Junior High School who serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Ohlone College Foundation. She also leads Avanzando-Newark, a nonprofit that promotes the advancement of Latino students. "I'm a total advocate for kids," she said. "That's been my passion at work. I've promoted the college-going culture to the max."

Larsen said she would like to reduce the need for remediation classes at Ohlone by strengthening ties with Tri-City-area high schools to better prepare incoming Ohlone students.

Schaefer has served on the Newark school board for more than 16 years and would leave her post if appointed to the Ohlone board.

"It's time for me to move on," she said. "Ohlone really and truly is a place where dreams can come true. I really want to be part of that."

Schaefer, an elementary-school teacher in Union City and vice president of the Mission Valley Regional Occupation Program board of directors, said her experience with local school districts would be an asset to the Ohlone board.

Both Schaefer and Aziz said they likely would run for the seat in 2012 if appointed. Larsen said she was unsure whether she would seek election.

The interviews will take place at a board meeting scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. May 11 in Room 7101 of the Student Services Center, 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont.

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