Daniel LaVista was named Friday as the next chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. LaVista, a newcomer to California, is executive director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. Earlier in his career, he led three different community colleges: the College of Lake County, the Community College of Baltimore County and McHenry County College.
In an interview Friday, LaVista said he was attracted to the job by the idea of being closer to the campuses and their students than he is in a statewide role.
He said that, in terms of his goals, "I want to have another look at what's happening with student success," especially at a time when national attention is focused on community colleges. He said that there are many outstanding programs already in place in the district, and that he wants to focus on applying best practices -- the use of learning communities, better advising systems and so forth -- so that they reach as many students as possible.
A major topic of his discussions with the board, LaVista said, was California's terrible budget outlook. LaVista said he believed that the district could achieve some additional savings through economies of scale of various campus operations, but that he would need to learn more in Los Angeles first. He said he believes that, however tight budgets are, it is important to have "innovation funds" so that some new ideas needing money can get off the ground.