By Freddy Monares
The longest serving president in the history of the Los Angeles Community College District, Ernest H. Moreno retired August 30 from East Los Angeles College.
Moreno was President of the college for nearly 18 years, during his tenure at ELAC.
Moreno’s departure took the whole spring semester, as he made his goodbye speeches at every event he attended.
“We tried to talk him out of it,” said Dennis Sanchez, an English instructor at ELAC, who was present around the same time that Moreno was hired.
Moreno rallied alongside Sanchez with ELAC’s East Side Spirit and Pride club to get back the Football program and create a Marching Band for the college.
Olga Barnes, secretary of Moreno throughout his presidency, said it was exciting to work with Moreno because of all the new ideas he had. His main focus, though, was the beautification of the campus.
“He encouraged departments to be creative in developing programs and developed the concept of reaching into the community to bring education to those most in need,” said Barnes.
“(ELAC) became an institution that everyone wanted to be a part of,” said Barnes. Community involvement was another focus on Moreno’s agenda.
“Our new President embraced our campus trotting proudly on it, and with those big 12 inch shoes he soon learned to love every step of the way,” said Sanchez in his farewell speech to Moreno.
Moreno’s changes on campus are not only visible in the landscape of the campus but one that can be seen in numbers. When enrollment was suffering at ELAC, Moreno recruited from all over. Barnes said that enrollment used to be at 10,000 and the current number of students enrolled is 30,000.
Sanchez said that Moreno went to China to recruit once, and along this trip he saw a student walking around with an ELAC shirt on.
“His leadership is a model for community college success,” said Barnes.
When asked why he was retiring, Moreno said that he had reached a certain age where he is financially stable enough to retire. He also said that he’s grown too old.
“I will always be proud to be a part of this family” said Moreno.