By Liliana Marquez
Marvin Martinez assumed his post as the new permanent president last July, two years after former President Ernest Moreno’s retirement.
Martinez was named permanent president on Jan.1 by the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees after an extensive search. He was serving as president of Los Angeles Harbor College at the time.
A memo from LACCD Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista said, “He brings a wealth of leadership experience to his new post. I am confident that ELAC students, staff, faculty and administrators will appreciate his insight, collaborative leadership style and commitment to student success in the months and years to come.
“I am very glad that he will remain with the district, though I suspect that the Los Angeles Harbor College community will miss him.”
Martinez said that for him, being the new ELAC president is a privilege.
“I was honored. I felt that it was a privilege to serve as the president of a campus that has an incredible tradition. You have a big number of people that have been students and have left their mark in Los Angeles as well as nationwide
This is campus that was built to provide a service to this community. The community leaders and officials still see ELAC as that center of cultural and political activities. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of the at history,” Martinez said.
For Martinez, his challenge as ELAC president will be to rebuild on top of what Moreno accomplished during his 18 years as president.
“Ernest Moreno is part of ELAC’s history. He is responsible for the way the campus looks, and it looks great.
“To me, my challenge is to connect or reconnect with the local community. They want to be part of this campus. I want to rebuild on top of what he has already accomplished,” Martinez said.
As of now, Martinez has a lot of plans to improve ELAC as well as the South Gate Center.
“A great community campus to me is a campus that graduates and transfers a lot of students. That’s where I think we need to go. We need to do everything possible to accomplish this.
“We have a great campus that works wonderful. We have some of the best facilities for a community college. We also have a great faculty and student body, as well as outstanding administrators and classified staff,” Martinez said.
One of the things that the school introduced to ensure that students have the opportunities to succeed is The Adelante, First Year Experience Program.
The purpose of this program is to work with incoming freshmen to provide them with services and instruction needed to be successful.
Martinez is also beginning to meet with local high schools.
By working with these schools, he wants to ensure that when the students come to ELAC, they come as prepared as they can.
He also met with superintendent Roberto Martinez, from the East area of Los Angeles Unified School District and Monica Garcia, a board member of LAUSD who represents Board District 2.
Martinez talked to students about possible ways of creating a “college-going culture,” therefore, by the time students start attending college, they can take college-level courses.
“We need to help them get it done in two years, so they can move on and transfer. That will help us increase the number of students who graduate and transfer. We want to provide students with the best counseling and instructional services, as well as teaching facilities,” Martinez said.
The goal for any college is to have all the students who enroll, graduate and transfer. This is also Martinez’s goal. He also wants to help those students who have different plans.
“There are also students who don’t come to graduate or transfer, but who want to take courses to get a better job and have a better life. Once we can help them, then we will be moving in the right direction,” Martinez said.
Regarding the South Gate campus, Martinez wants to make them feel a part of ELAC, since a lot of people tend to forget about the satellite campus.
Part of his plan includes the construction of the new South Gate campus on the land that was purchased across the street from the current campus.
“Right now we are in discussions and negotiations with the city of South Gate to be able to start constructing the new campus,” Martinez said.
According to Martinez, the current campus serves about 4,500 students. Once the new campus is built, it will serve 9,000 students.
The plan also includes to construct a parking structure for about 1,600 cars.
“We are going to double the number of students that we serve. We will be able to hire more faculty, counselors and other staff,” Martinez said.
Martinez also wants to schedule some of the committee meetings in South Gate. He asked the Associated Student Union to consider having at least a meeting there, to allow the students who attend there, to participate.
During his first day as ELAC president, Martinez took some time to meet staff, faculty and students during a reception for him.
For Martinez, it is crucial to be active with students and faculty. He also considers it important to get to know people and their concerns.
Martinez wants to create a spirit on campus where students support each other. He encourages students to go to the sporting and arts events held at ELAC to support their classmates.
Martinez, who was born in El Salvador, comes from a working class family. His father drove trucks, while his mother cleaned houses in order to support their family.
“Like many immigrants, they sacrificed everything to come to this country in order to help their kids,” Martinez said.
They came to the United States in 1972 when he was nine years old. He arrived to this country with his family of eight.
They lived in Brooklyn, New York for six years and then moved to Long Beach. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson Classical High School.
He earned a Master of Arts in Urban Planning and a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of California, Los Angeles.
During his time at UCLA he was editor in chief of their newspaper and president of MECHA.
Martinez was also involved in student government. He helped his friend and colleague Dean Florez to become the first Latino student body president at UCLA.
Besides being president of LAHC, some other of Martinez’s previous jobs include: Dean of Business and Industry at Cerritos College, Vice President of Planning and Development for the Santa Monica Community College District and vice chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development for the Los Angeles Community College District.
Martinez said that his previous jobs have helped him by giving him the necessary tools to be the ELAC president.
“Having that network of contacts with district staff and having a good relationship with the board has helped me and has allowed me to hit the ground running. Something that also helps me is the fact that I love working with students,” Martinez said.
Martinez has four children. Two of them graduated from community colleges.
One of them graduated from Cerritos College and got a certificate in Cosmetology, while the other graduated from Santa Monica College, and transferred to the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated in Political Science.
Martinez said, “I am a real firm believer in community colleges and how much they help young people. Education for me is very important.”