Just as students begin to settle into routines at the college, so do faculty. Among them is new Dean of Academic Affairs Ofelia Arellano, ready to tackle the unique challenges presented to her.
Arellano said she has adjusted to the job well after leaving Santa Barbara City College because of restructuring that eliminated her division.
â€œPeople are just so welcoming, friendly, helpful and Iâ€™m learning a lot. Everyoneâ€™s been really helpful, from the president, the vice presidents and the staff,â€ said Arellano in a recent interview.
Faculty also is enthusiastic about the new dean.
â€œIâ€™ve found her very open and sheâ€™s made a lot of suggestions that have been helpful,â€ said Dustin Hanvey, president of Academic Senate. â€œMy first impressions of her are a good solid addition to the administrative team. She is sophisticated, very well thought of, obviously a lot experience. And she knows how to deal with very complex issues in a way that make sense.â€
Arellano is filling a newly created post. â€œIt is a new position. My primary responsibilities are to really work on the schedule of classes to ensure we have a schedule that students can use and schedule classes that they want,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™ll spend time working in collaboration with the deans and the faculty. The schedule is one primary responsibility alongside the catalog,â€ she said. â€œThe other piece is working with a lot of different individuals in terms of enrollment management to see how we can improve in the areas of marketing and recruitment.â€
Her supervisor, Robert Bell, assistant superintendent and senior vice president of student and learning services, is excited to have Arellano on board.
â€œIt has been an absolute pleasure working with Dr. Arellano so far. She is energetic and committed to students and student success and is an outstanding addition to the college,â€ Bell said. â€œDr. Arellano has a strong and extensive background working in both academic and student affairs at California Community Colleges that spoke well to providing the additional leadership PCC needs to meet the goals identified in our Educational master Plan (EMP) and the requirements under the Student Success Task Force recommendations.â€
â€œI think she has a fresh look for ways that we can improve student success at PCC,â€ said AC Panela, Academic Senate vice president.
Behind the strong work ethic, Arellano remains close to her Mexican roots.
â€œI grew up in a border community, about two minutes from the border. I spent a lot of time in Mexicali,â€ she said. â€œWe would go shopping or go to parties and events. I grew up in a really diverse border community. That was just the thing to do in high school.â€
Her office is adorned with many self-portraits of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
â€œSomething just captivated me about Kahlo, so I just started reading a lot about her,â€ Arellano said. â€œShe was a fascinating woman, very much ahead of her time in terms of her talent and political views … I hope I can make a difference for students, thatâ€™s my goal.â€