By Dan Gudino
Influence and experience are two things Business Department chairperson, Roderick Lipscomb will walk away with in retirement after 49 years of service at East Los Angeles College.
By the end of 2017 semester, Lipscomb and 50 other faculty members will retire and start a new chapter in their lives.
“It’s the proper time to hang it up. The main reasons are, of course, family and spending time with them, but the incentives that we as faculty members (of the Los Angeles Community College District) have, is one reason,” Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb’s mind is always on strategy, similar to his field of expertise in business. “The business angle of this process (of retirement) makes myself and the others retiring all too alluring. The incentives we are going to be provided make sense, and probably in another few years will not be around. So the time is now,” Lipscomb said as he reflected on possible changes to retirement policies of LACCD.
For Lipscomb, it’s not all over. Always dressed in proper business attire, well groomed from head to toe, he plans on continuing to practice law on a freelance basis, minimally.
Prior to becoming a professor at ELAC, he was a lawyer by trade, and considers himself a true Angeleno. He’s a grad of Hamilton High School, has political science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also finished his juris doctorate.
He formed his passion for business law when he was 14. Now 74, Lipscomb recalls the moment he first knew he had to take steps in ensuring protection to those who needed legal help.
“My father worked so hard as an architect, and I remember he spent a tremendous amount of time at his office and at home. He worked countless hours designing something on print for a client, only to be let down by the client. It disturbed me. He was not paid for his hard work. I knew then I had to do something. And it became a mission to protect those who need legal service,” Lipscomb said.
On the teaching side, it was his mother who influenced him. He first stepped foot in ELAC when he was in high school, as a competing track and field athlete.
Lipscomb said ELAC was left on his mind as a profound piece of memory.
The size of Weingart Stadium, the cheering crowd and the great event held at ELAC lasted for seven years in his memory until he came back as a new professor in 1968.
“That was a real tough time in our school’s history. During that period we had what was labeled as “race riots.” It took some courage to be here, but influence and experience got me through that stint,” said Lipscomb.
He shared how mother ’s never-complaining-attitude and her teaching profession impacted Lipscomb’s future. His mother was no stranger to confronting the tough times of the ‘60s and ‘70s, where she taught at Dorsey High School, a majority African -American school.
“Here she was, this white lady in a primarily all black school. That did not bother her one bit. She later became the director of their childhood program. She understood that interaction and communication were key and instrumental in helping understand differences,” Lipscomb said.
“She taught until her ‘80s and when she passed away, she had a group of 12 former Dorsey students attended her ceremony former students from the childhood development program she ran. That’s impact, that’s influence,” Lipscomb said.
He said she never once mentioned to him that he should teach. Instead he saw her work ethic as an example. “I saw how much she enjoyed teaching and how her work was so appreciated. No one ever complained about her as a teacher.
So I was impressed. Parents are so impactful, not because they can tell you what to do, but show you how to do it right,” Lipscomb said.
He credits athletics as a means to interact with everyone. As a defensive player at Stanford University, before he transferred back home to UCLA, he shared how camaraderie with teammates can solve a prejudice mindset.
He jokingly shared the only hate he’s ever had in him,which was his hate for the University of Southern California Trojans, a natural USC-UCLA rivalry. Sports, his parents and law all had influence on Lipscomb.
“We value business education. It’s a major subject that really helps students understand how to work in a career environment. And Mr. Lipscomb has help progress business at ELAC as one of the top programs within the LACCD,” ELAC foundation executive director Paul de la Cerda said.
“I tell students we all graduate from the same school, the school of experience,” Lipscomb said.