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Transcript- Episode 96: How Education Can Serve As A Tool For Liberation With Dr. Francisco Rodriguez Chancellor of Los Angeles Community College District Episode 96

Jun 20, 2023


00:00:00 Francisco

I really believe that there is a positive benefit when our administrators, when our faculty, when our staff represent the students that we serve. It's a positive educational benefit to the student, to the individual, and to the institution.


00:00:12 Francisco

And we have a long ways to go in equity and diversifying our workforces in a variety of areas. Women, folks of color, LGBTQ, veterans as examples of where we can do better. And that's something that our district is unapologetic about, and hopefully others can get on board to do the same because who's in charge matters.


00:00:38 Christina

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing, and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education. But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?


00:01:01 Salvatrice

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College and host of this podcast.


00:01:09 Christina

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer of this podcast.


00:01:12 Salvatrice

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals, more internships and PCC students in the workforce.


00:01:27 Salvatrice

We at Pasadena City College want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us.


00:01:41 Christina

We believe change happens when we work together, and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.


00:01:48 Salvatrice

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo, and this is the Future of Work.


00:01:54 Salvatrice

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Future of Work Podcast, I am your host, Salvatrice Cummo. Today, we'll learn about the Los Angeles Community College District and strides that are being taken to better the community colleges. We will also discuss community colleges at a national level and how we can better support our students.


00:02:14 Salvatrice

With that said, we would like to welcome Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the nation with nine accredited colleges and over 200,000 student enrollments.


00:02:29 Salvatrice

Appointed in 2014, Dr. Rodriguez has raised the district's profile and built its national reputation as an outstanding urban community college district to study and work. A noted scholar, practitioner, an educator, activist, Dr. Rodriguez, has 30 plus years of experience as an educator, faculty member and administrator within the California Public Higher Education.


00:02:56 Salvatrice

Dr. Rodriguez has dedicated his career to high quality public education and championing equity, inclusion, diversity, and outreach to under resourced communities. With that said, we are super excited to have you with us today, Dr. Rodriguez, thank you.


00:03:15 Francisco

Hi, Salvatrice, happy to be here.


00:03:17 Salvatrice

Thank you, well, I'm always curious about someone's journey, and so I think it's really important to start there. And with over the 30 years of experience that you've had as an educator in higher ED, how did you get here and why is it still important to you?


00:03:33 Francisco

Well, thank you for that question, it's wonderful to reflect on the journey that is coming up on a few years on four decades on the California higher education landscape. When I say, yeah, I began my professional work in the previous century, people kind of trip out, it's a long time, but it's actually true.


00:03:50 Francisco

I think the first thing I'd like to say, and I share this with my students and those who I work with, particularly as we have commencements and whatnot coming up. And that is my life did not begin the day I was born.


00:04:02 Francisco

Now, so many of us, we are the hope, the dream, the manifestation of people who came before us who sacrificed, who deferred their own dreams, Salvatrice, so that people like you and I could be afforded these incredible positions of responsibility, obligation, and authority.


00:04:18 Francisco

And I'm a child of factory workers and of campesinos of farm workers before then in rural Mexico. So, this idea of education was a pretty powerful one that was instilled in me some time ago. So, the first thing I like to say when I think about the journey is to give reverence and respect to those who toiled, literally toiled in factories and in fields so that I can be in a air conditioned heated office with the responsibilities that I have.


00:04:46 Francisco

But it was first generation student, like so many of our community college students, English language learner, like so many of our students, an immigrant, like again, so many of our students. And those for me are value added experiences that has helped me focus on the responsibilities that I had.


00:05:03 Francisco

When I was coming up, I enjoyed science, enjoyed math, enjoyed that. So, I went to UC Davis as a civil engineering major and thought that that was going to be my path forward.


00:05:14 Francisco

But soon discovered through a tutoring job that I loved tutoring. This idea, not just the action of tutoring, Salvatrice, but the idea that I was helping someone improve their lives. And pretty soon when I was tutoring through our engineering club, our Chicano Engineers club, I discovered that the students had their homework done, but they would just come in and hang out.


00:05:36 Francisco

So, then I learned this idea of mentorship, this idea of being a role model, and I never really saw myself as that before. I was trying to handle my own business, let alone support others. So, that interest got me in a career path in education, I had a work-study job, doing outreach and recruitment.


00:05:55 Francisco

And then I stayed on that path, changed my major in my fourth year, and got an additional year of study and then went on to work at the university for a dozen years in outreach, recruitment, student leadership development and equity work, so that's how I began my career.


00:06:09 Francisco

And it wasn't until I determined after 12 years at the university , that community college life would be one for me. And I had the opportunity to go to a very small rural college not far from the university in second in command, which means I was in charge of curriculum, student services, which I really enjoyed and really had, had some familiarity with and things like air conditioners and parking lots. And when you're in charge of air conditioners in Yolo County, you're kind of a big person on campus.


00:06:37 Salvatrice

That's right.


00:06:38 Francisco

So, I learned every inch of how a campus breathes, the operations of an institution, the academic blood that flows through its veins, the curriculum work, the student support services, technology, and all the things that after six years, I was given an opportunity to leave Woodland Community College , where I served as executive dean, now president, and to serve at the Cosumnes River College as its president. A wonderful college in the Los Rios District in Sacramento.


00:07:09 Francisco

And enjoyed that work for many years, about six years until the MiraCosta Community College District was looking for a new superintendent president. And I raised my hand and left the area, came here to Southern California and had a wonderful experience there as well.


00:07:26 Francisco

And then LACCD, was looking for a chancellor. And this district had had many chancellors over the years, and I'd never thought that I would land here or be a part of this, but it's sort of full circle. Being born and raised in San Francisco, I have urban tendencies and urban desires, if you will, and urban proclivities, and this is that.


00:07:45 Francisco

So, I begin my 10th year tomorrow. I began June 1st, 2014. So, an accidental leader, and I know that's not about today, but you have to be ready for opportunity. And I share with our students, if you stay ready, you don't have to get ready. So, I've just tried to stay ready through my education and look forward to opportunities as they present themselves. Never look too far ahead, focusing on being present and engaged and doing good work.


00:08:10 Francisco

And fortunately, I've landed some excellent opportunities in working with smart people that have allowed this thing called education to manifest itself.


00:08:20 Francisco

So, yeah, it's long ways from the Mission District, but not so far away in terms of my hopes and my interests in this work. I've never lost a fire, I just haven't, I believe in what we do and I know you do too as well.


00:08:29 Francisco

And we get a chance to afford this tool called education to everyone. It's the most egalitarian, most humanitarian thing I can think of to afford someone an education that can improve their lives.


00:08:45 Francisco

So, yeah, I still enjoy the work, I still get up and ready to roll, get my sleeves up and work. It's not a point in command position, it's a working position, and I like that.


00:08:56 Salvatrice

Thank you, similar stories. I mean, I think that what pulls and what tugs us to really continue to do this work, as you mentioned earlier, is the accessibility to our students education as our mobility tool. I too have very similar experiences as first-gen, parents were farm workers, they came here to this country working in factories. And so, education was, and still is, what they have instilled in us and what they continue to instill in our grandchildren and et cetera, et cetera.


00:09:27 Salvatrice

And I think that the Los Angeles Community College District is one that is so impressive and so powerful and so influential and has provided those opportunities, and what you just shared is what drives you and what drives me. And so, I'd like to maybe lean into a little bit in sharing those who may not know LACCD, what is LACCD, who is LACCD, what does LACCD stand for? Maybe just a holistic view.


00:09:57 Francisco

Well, we're one of 72 community college districts in the state of California and one of about 116 colleges that are served, and we serve nine of those 116. So, we're the largest multi-college district in the state. We have over 200,000 student enrollments, as you mentioned at the beginning. Each of the nine colleges are separately accredited in the United States.


00:10:19 Francisco

That's not always the case with places like Dallas and Miami with single accreditations. We have nine separate accreditations that are on the single accreditation cycle now. It's own programs and services and support and region and service areas, if you will.


00:10:31 Francisco

But one governing board of seven members that are elected throughout the 900 or so square mile district that serves about 36 cities in unincorporated areas with the density resident population of over 5 million. That's why it's a very large district, and corner to corner it's 40, 50 miles.


00:10:50 Francisco

It's an urban district, suburban district, we've got close to 10,000 employees. It's an opportunity to really again, provide a two-year education to the masses.


00:10:59 Francisco

Our mission, our goals are very similar. We're one of 19 community college districts in Los Angeles County, you're aware of that. And we all actually work together and get along pretty well, the CEOs of the 19 schools. And we focus in on things like equity, on workforce development, on economic prosperity of our students.


00:11:17 Francisco

So, those are things that we come together on things such as the Los Angeles Regional Consortium to promote our student success.


00:11:24 Francisco

So, yeah, LACCD, it's a large district, but it's the smallest, largest district, you'll find. People here tend to move from college to college as they accelerate in their careers and people find to make a full educational life here, and I like that.


00:11:37 Francisco

Lots of folks have been here 30 and 40 years because they enjoy support and advocate for the mission of providing education to those who are underserved. And we have quite a few underserved students with over 50% of our students who live in poverty. That remaining half, about half of those are the working poor. 60 or so percent are first generation students, 35% of our students are student-parents.


00:12:01 Francisco

And we have a student body that reflects the most of enrollments in a whole variety of areas, including former foster care, student veterans, students with disabilities, undocumented students, just to say a few, and we're proud of that.


00:12:17 Francisco

We're proud of that incredible rich diversity for folks who are underserved. So, we know that we provide an excellent and affordable, high quality education that we're actually changing the lives of people and their families intergenerationally, and that feels pretty good.


00:12:32 Salvatrice

Absolutely, there's a lot to be proud of. There's certainly a lot to be proud of that the district has been able to accomplish with the nine community colleges. And I wonder if you'd be willing to share some of your current priorities. There's so many successes and we can spend another hour talking about the success of LACCD and their nine colleges. Are there current priorities that you're interested in?


00:12:55 Francisco

Yes, and thank you for sharing and recognizing that. It's true, our colleges do amazing work with the communities that they serve. We're alike like the other 100 plus colleges in the state of California with the singular focus on student success, completions, persistence, retention, graduation, outcomes, every single community college in the state. I would even say the nation who's doing good work, are focused in on those kinds of priorities, student success is the number one goal.


00:13:22 Francisco

In addition to that, I would say there are some things that we do in addition to that, we have a very strong advocacy agenda for the state of California. We're sponsors of four bills right now and a couple of budget requests in the state of California, I can get into that. So, that's certainly a priority for us to complete that.


00:13:38 Francisco

We've just completed the successful passage of a local facilities bond last November. The public, again, has entrusted us with their resources support, in this case a 5.3 billion bond, which will completely transform the infrastructure of all of our nine colleges for the next 50 years, so we're very, very pleased about that. Salvatrice we're in the middle of faculty hiring, for this fall we will hire 222 tenure track faculty.


00:14:04 Francisco

Think about that for a minute, 222 newly minted tenure track faculty, and I'm very proud of that. And my tenure alone of now going on 10 years, we've been able to attract, hire, recruit and support almost 1100 of the 15, 1600 full-time faculty. So, it gives you the sense-


00:14:25 Salvatrice

That's amazing.


00:14:25 Francisco

Of the turnover, and I'm most proud of that those faculty reflect our students in a much greater way. More women, women in sciences in a much greater way and reflects the racial ethnic diversity of our student body, so we're very, very pleased about that.


00:14:39 Francisco

So, the faculty hiring class is amongst our largest that we've ever had. We have a very strong interest in College Promise as all of our local colleges do. And because we know when students enroll two years tuition free and receive all the wraparound support services, they get to college level English, college level math quicker. They are retained better, they persist greater, and they have greater educational outcomes.


00:15:04 Francisco

And then the last thing I'd mention in terms of priorities is that we're in the bachelor degree space now. With the 15 initial programs that were approved, in the state of California, we had one at West LA, the dental hygiene program.


00:15:15 Francisco

We've now received approval for two others, at La Valley College, respiratory Therapy, RT, and at West LA again, the avionics program. And we have a couple others in the queue that are moving forward, that are in the review stage of bio manufacturing and LA mission and biotechnology over LA Pierce.


00:15:34 Francisco

So, we're in the baccalaureate degree space and we believe that that's good for California, to bolt the local and regional economy and to give students who are mostly place-bound, and you know this from your profession, our profession, our students are place-bound, most of them. So, having the opportunity to go local to receive a 4-year degree of less than $11,000 total tuition is an amazing accomplishment when they can have careers that pay seven times that coming out with their degrees.


00:16:02 Salvatrice

That's amazing. You touched a little bit upon the California Promise Program and if memory serves me right, you're one of the principal architects of that program. And you touched a little bit on its impact. What was first of all the main driving force of the program, and then perhaps maybe talk a little bit about its initial aspirations for impact and then where we are now with impact.


00:16:27 Francisco

Okay. Well, let me start from the top, I think we need to give a lot of credit to President Obama. During his administration really declaring, with Vice President Biden then this declaration that education through community colleges would be affordable and accessible to every "person in this country." So, we got on that, we believed that.


00:16:46 Francisco

And we had local opportunities that we saw, certainly the Long Beach Promise and other local areas, but we had not made this opportunity available at scale. And as you know, some states adopted the College Promise Program, others didn't. Others thought it was a financial drain, others thought it was a financial investment.


00:17:02 Francisco

States, California, ultimately through our sponsorship decided and with the great support of assembly member Miguel Santiago, we put this law into place. Through Governor Brown, first gave one year after we advocated, pushed it through, got lots of support from around the state and whatnot. And lots of advocates and lots of business colleagues supported that. So, Governor Brown signed one year tuition free. When Governor Newsom came immediately, second year tuition free.


00:17:26 Francisco

So, lots of governmental support, lots of state chancellor's office support and colleagues from around the state that believed that this bill that we were sponsoring would allow every Californian, Salvatrice, every California in every zip code, in every station in life at any age, if they attended a community college for the first time back then, they could attend and enroll tuition free.


00:17:48 Francisco

Now, subsequently, we've supported some work and others as well, that any student returning full-time, not just first time, but if you're returning, you go full-time, two years tuition free.


00:17:59 Francisco

And I like that because it really is, again, the egalitarian mission that everyone can benefit. The benefits have been amazing, it's not just tuition free, it's the Summer Bridge Program, it's the tutoring, it's the embedded tutoring. It's the Academic Enrichment activities, it's the learning resources that are afforded to them. It's the computer, the laptop, the positive mindset, the tools that these students receive.


00:18:21 Francisco

And most of our students come from LAUSD, although we have 11 other districts that we serve, they do better. We just give a report to our board. They accelerate quicker, their time to degree is shorter. They're getting to and passing college level English and math is double digits points higher than those who don't have that.


00:18:39 Francisco

So, enrolling full-time, we got criticized for that and we stuck to it because I know from my educational background and research and others full-time commitment, I know it doesn't meet everyone's needs, I get that. But a full-time commitment , suggests that you can get to your goal line quicker. The longer you stay in school, actually, the worse the statistic is that you actually complete. Time to degree is essential and very rarely talked about.


00:19:07 Salvatrice

Right. Are there other advocacy efforts that you're working on that either compliment the California Promise Program or are there things that we should be keeping an eye on?


00:19:16 Francisco

Yes, actually quite a bit. One is the idea of continuing to advocate for DACA undocumented students and a pathway to citizenship that really the larger federal conversation impacts our students in California who enroll the most undocumented students as a system, and we enroll the most as a particular district. So, keeping attention to the national immigration policy on DACA is important.


00:19:40 Francisco

Federal financial aid, Pell is an important discussion. It still caters to students right out of high school who are full-time. That's not who we are, that's not who our community college students are. So, paying attention to federal financial aid.


00:19:53 Francisco

Second Chance Pell for former incarcerated students, is a tremendous opportunity for us to gain space and advocacy and support for those who were formerly incarcerated. And if those students go to college and we want them to, they're going to come to our two-year segment.


00:20:08 Francisco

It's our obligation to provide them a safe space to reintegrate themselves, to tool up, re-skill, upskill and make them employable. Our economy and society indeed depends on it.


00:20:20 Francisco

And even going back to undocumented students, you may have seen that the University of California just organized a work group that will allow undocumented students to be paid on campus for on campus work. And that's really big because they're too far, they can't work on whatnot, so that's really, really big. We're paying a lot of attention to that as well.


00:20:38 Francisco

And then lastly, maybe just the broader larger conversation of the cost of attendance. That continues to be … although we're a low cost provider in terms of tuition, the cost of attendance is still high when you consider textbooks, housing and other costs of attending a community college is actually higher than some of our four-year counterparts when you consider that, all the variables that are involved in attending college.


00:21:05 Salvatrice

Sure. And as a system, are you suggesting that perhaps these advocacy efforts that you've just mentioned and paying attention to the pulse in those areas that you just shared, are you suggesting that perhaps that those are ways that we can better support our students entering the community college and guiding that holistic support to guiding them through graduation?


00:21:24 Salvatrice

Or might there be other things that we need to be paying attention to as we enter this, perhaps not policy-driven, but maybe more operationally, programmatically driven in helping our students enter and succeed?


00:21:36 Francisco

Well, first, to make it easier to actually enroll, the application process is still cumbersome, even though it's been simplified. And our district carried the CCCApply simplification, a few years ago, but it's still complicated. Try it, it's not easy.


00:21:50 Salvatrice

I just had my daughter apply through CCCApply.


00:21:55 Francisco

But then enrolling, you apply to a system and then it goes to the college. And if you can't get a class right away, when you're ready to enroll, you have to wait sometimes to get an ID and it takes sometimes 24, 48 hours, sometimes students lose interest. So, making it easier for students, I think is important operationally.


00:22:10 Francisco

The other part too is, and this is policy, if we could give more attention to credit for prior learning, particularly for our veteran students, focusing on work-based learning. There's a lot of discussion on that, apprenticeships and whatnot. Not every student's going to go to the four-year university transfer track. This idea of workforce is a really important compliment and equal partner, in my view, to this idea of preparing people for work. So, I think, equal and maybe even more attention to that particular pathway is important.


00:22:42 Francisco

And on the student services side, we still are, I think, mired with trying to better understand student basic needs. We were all part of the larger discussion on student hunger, on homelessness, on students who are housing and food insecure, and facilitating the transition for persons who were severely impacted after the pandemic, who were dislocated, who were indeed unemployed. Who need to be re-skilled or upskilled in the current profession.


00:23:07 Francisco

Not everybody successfully navigated this pandemic. I would maybe say it this way, Salvatrice, that those who were connected to the internet, those who were employed, those who were insured, those who were educated, those were the individuals that actually could navigate it. Maybe it was inconvenient, but if you were disconnected from the internet, unemployed, uninsured, less educated and hungry or unhoused, you did not navigate this very well.


00:23:35 Francisco

The bifurcation, the split between survival and success, sometimes thin and sometimes great. So, I would say it's our responsibility to make sure that students have those tools, those basic needs, so they can be indeed successful. It's still longer, I'll summarize it in this way, whether or not the students are college ready or whether our colleges are student ready.


00:23:58 Francisco

And the student ready is looking at, as you mentioned, holistically, looking at the entire student. And we're not funded for that necessarily. Although we've been given lots of one-time support through the federal and state for mental health and basic needs and all those really emerging needs that were maybe always there, but we didn't have the resources to do that. This gives us an opportunity to take stock, take inventory on where we shepherd our resources so they can have the most impact on the outcomes of our students.


00:24:27 Salvatrice

That's right, I really love that. As a college student ready, that shouldn't apply just to us as community colleges, that should apply to all higher education. Because our landscape has changed, so the environment has changed, everything has changed drastically.


00:24:42 Salvatrice

And speaking of which, thinking about the student's basic needs, and now we're post pandemic technically. Thinking about that, we've had enormous amount of strides in our community college system as well within our own respective districts. But if there was one thing that you would say, you would say, "Salvatrice, there's really got to be this one major change in our community college system that's really going to make an impact," what would it be and why?


00:25:09 Francisco

Just one.


00:25:11 Salvatrice

Well, I mean, you're more than welcome to provide more.


00:25:14 Francisco

You got my mind working here. Oh, I mean, three things come to mind almost immediately.


00:25:19 Salvatrice

That's alright, let's talk about it.


00:25:20 Francisco

Operational, but could have profound, profound impact. And I'll say one that is now a state law, but we haven't figured out, that's common course numbering throughout the system, we don't have that. Now, we have some articulation and numbers and that … system. So, there are ways to try to do that, but it's still a little clunky and need some work.


00:25:40 Francisco

So, if we could simplify, streamline, and amplify the rich, prowess and impact of common course memory throughout our system, it's better for students. It's better for transferability, better for workplace, better for a degree completion, better clarity.


00:25:54 Francisco

You recall 10, 15 years ago, our students were taking twice as many units as they actually needed on average. Which is during the time of rationing education, which we did during the Great Depression, because difficult to have classes that students need so they get the skills or transfer courses that they need to move on. So, we're hopeful not headed towards that again.


00:26:13 Francisco

But I would say, yeah, common course numbering I'm a big fan of, operation it's tough. You leave it to smart people like you to figure that out, but I would say that's one.


00:26:24 Francisco

Next, I mentioned it earlier, I really believe that there is a positive benefit when our administrators, when our faculty, when our staff represent the students that we serve. It's a positive educational benefit to the student, to the individual, and to the institution.


00:26:38 Francisco

And we have a long ways to go on equity and diversifying our workforces in a variety of areas. Women, folks of color, LGBTQ, veterans as examples of where we can do better. And that's something that our district is unapologetic about, and hopefully others can get on board to do the same because who's in charge matters.


00:27:00 Salvatrice

That's right, it does.


00:27:02 Francisco

So, I'm emphatic about that because we get to determine where the resources go, what you pay attention to, how you govern, work with the board to solve the most pressing societal issues and how education can be the tool of that particular solution.


00:27:16 Francisco

Education is liberation, for so many of our communities. Education is emancipation from all kinds of social and societal ills. It is the greatest accelerant and greatest determinant of social and economic mobility. So, this opportunity that we afforded to the masses and to others who could widely benefit and who could most benefit, is something that I'm particularly proud of.


00:27:39 Francisco

Then maybe the last thing, and I haven't figured this one out, this will take some time. I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this.


00:27:46 Salvatrice



00:27:46 Francisco

As a system, we haven't figured out the right balance of online, in person and hybrid, it's all experimental at the moment. Oh, students demand this, really? Well, faculty want to do that, really? I mean, what's the right appropriate balance? Is it meeting student needs?


00:28:00 Francisco

When we don't offer enough of one or the other, we're looking for the sweet spot. We were about 80/20, in person hybrid before the pandemic, now we're essentially 50/50. I don't think that's the right balance, I really don't. Although we're growing, I'm happy to report that we're up 15% this year, but we were down the last two years horribly, 20 plus percent of our enrollments, it's a lot of people.


00:28:26 Salvatrice

It's a lot of people.


00:28:27 Francisco

30, 40,000 students saying adios, that's a lot of people. And mostly brown and black and female and parents, just paused, they stopped out. And so, it's something that we need to pay attention to.


00:28:38 Francisco

So, those are the magic wand. There is no magic wand, but a common course numbering, diversifying our faculty staff and administration and then finding the right balance for the course modality that represents the student's interest and one that accelerates their time to degree, I'm coming back to that.


00:28:57 Francisco

We need to accelerate and support that because if we decelerate either intentionally or unintentionally, the student success rate drops and if we disaggregate, it's even worse, we won't meet those equity gaps that are pervasive and that have been pervasive for decades.


00:29:14 Salvatrice

I would even go as far as say reemerging the purpose of community colleges. You talked earlier about accelerating their time, that wasn't in our vocabulary. We wanted them to stay more traditionally, take more courses, do all the things. And it's like, well no, we're now being a disservice to our student. There's so much that can be said, there's so much that can be unpacked.


00:29:38 Salvatrice

Those three things are definitely complex. Those three major changes that you just shared involved, intentional, deliberate work. I, for one sign up for all of it. It's a passion of mine, I love being here, I love my job. I tell anyone who will listen to me, I love my job, love it, love it, love it, and would want to do more at scale.


00:29:57 Salvatrice

So, if there's ever a moment, I'm bringing that out to you, if there's ever a moment where you want to unpack those three major changes for the California Community College system, happy to be a part of that.


00:30:07 Salvatrice

This is the Future of Work Podcast, we are kind of coming close to our sensitive to this conversation. I would not be doing my job well if I didn't ask you what's one thing, one thing you'd want our listener to know about the future of work, where we're headed and what they need to be paying attention to.


00:30:26 Francisco

Let me give an institutional then maybe a personal response. From institutional response, if there are leaders of other organizations and higher education or other businesses, the notion of being nimble, responsive, opportunistic, and entrepreneurial, that is the definition of being adaptive.


00:30:44 Salvatrice



00:30:45 Francisco

So, those organizations that are not nimble, responsive, opportunistic and entrepreneurial, adaptive, run the risk of being irrelevant or less relevant is probably better stated. These are things that I talk about with our organization, with our college presidents, with our leaders here, our board, about how we can continue to be just that. And some of that involves calculated risk taking. Some of that involves thinking out of the norm in doing some experimental or pilot stuff to see if it indeed works. So, the impact, the role and definition of AI, it's here.


00:31:18 Salvatrice

That's right, I'm so happy you brought that up. Yeah.


00:31:23 Francisco

It's here, it will influence everything. The student experience, the work experience, the institutional ability to adapt. It could be innovative, supportive and complimentary and supplemental and in some cases it will supplant some of the work that we are doing.


00:31:38 Francisco

I think we need to be prepared for both how it augments and simplifies and makes easier and educates and cajoles and nudges, we have all those things that do that for us now.


00:31:48 Francisco

But how it also will indeed, purposely in a coordinated fashion, supplant some of the paperwork and some of the archaic ways that we've done things. We've had other revolutions in the past, industrial revolution, the mechanization of many things, if you will. Well, we've transitioned to a larger gig economy. I mean, this is another part of this revolution and change that is here, it will not be reversed


00:32:12 Francisco

So, getting students prepared for, and how to master this, I think is going to be super important. I read somewhere that there'll be almost a hundred million new jobs created by AI by 2025 or something, it's a ridiculous number. And then concurred to that, that AI is expected by the same time period, just a few years from now to supplant and replace about 16% of American jobs.


00:32:38 Francisco

So, how we implement that in a way that's responsible, in a way that is at scale, so that we're not all doing different things for the end user experience to improve, I think that's something that we would all benefit from. So, that's what I would say in terms of the future of work, technology is here, AI is here. So, again, being adaptive, nimble, responsive, opportunistic, entrepreneurial is the way forward.


00:33:05 Salvatrice

Very good, thank you so much, I've learned a lot and I wish we could talk more. I do foresee a part two to this conversation and this podcast specifically around AI and how it influences education and our system. We just had an episode about that with one of my colleagues and really kind of diving deep about we really have to take this embrace approach, kind of what you were sharing earlier, instead of this fearful, it's going to take my job away, it really isn't.


00:33:35 Salvatrice

There's so much more to it that we have to unpack and figure out specifically with our own workforce at community colleges, let alone preparing the student for the future.


00:33:45 Salvatrice

Thank you very, very much, we'd greatly appreciate your time, Dr. Rodriguez. I know you're a very, very busy leader in this space and for you to carve out time for us means a lot, genuinely appreciate it. For those who may want to connect with you, what would be the best way for them to connect with you?


00:34:02 Francisco

Well, I don't hide, I have an office, an office number, chancellor's office, LACCD, and I have very capable assistants who are here. I also have a chancellor at email at Folks want to reach out, but always, always happy to connect. I don't always connect right away with folks who I don't know because I have, quite a bit to do. But I try not to ignore anything or direct it to the right place.


00:34:26 Francisco

But I'm always interested in ideas and people sharing thoughts and really, really helping us together. The education is a communal experience. Our individuals in other parts of the state, the country, our community that have ideas to share about how we can better improve and accelerate the success of students, I'm game, always open to that.


00:34:47 Francisco

But I try to be accessible, try to be down to earth, and try to do this work in a way that reminds again, we stay grounded, we don't confuse who we are with what we do.


00:34:56 Salvatrice

That's right.


00:34:56 Francisco

What we do is amazingly important, but who we are as people and the values that we talked about that are those who came before us and instilled upon us and the obligation to serve others. It's my absolute belief that the more we help others attain their goals, the more we have success in attaining our own.


00:35:14 Francisco

So, it's a beautiful universal love reciprocity. So, let's let the universe smile upon us and let's do good work.


00:35:20 Salvatrice

I love that, what a beautiful, beautiful way to close the conversation. Thank you, Dr. Rodriguez, thank you very much.


00:35:26 Francisco

Okay, Salvatrice Cummo, congratulations on hosting this, I know you do this out of love and out of a purpose to serve, so I'm happy to be a part of this, thank you so much.


00:35:38 Salvatrice

Thank you for listening to The Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you're subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday.


00:35:48 Salvatrice

You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate, partner, or just chat about all things future of work. We'd love to connect with you. All of us here at the future of work and Pasadena City College wish you safety and wellness.