Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

October 31, 2006 > Area 2, Seat 7 (Olga Borjon)

Area 2, Seat 7 (Olga Borjon)

TCV: Why are you running for the Ohlone College board?

Borjon: I am active with Newark Memorial High School. We are participating with the Ohlone connection where students can take classes simultaneously with the high school and college. There is also the biochemistry program for the 10th grade students. Other than that, I have noticed an absence of college influence. There should be more involvement between the college and the schools.

I am speaking about Newark Memorial, but I think this is probably the case with all the local high schools. I think this is the perfect opportunity for me to step forward and extend my involvement with the schools. I have been doing volunteer work with the schools for the last 22 years. I have been a PTA mom, secretary, treasurer and board member of St. Edward School for seven years. I have real board experience although there are some differences at the elementary and junior high level but the responsibilities are basically the same: attracting and retaining students; financial issues and things like that.

TCV: How can you help to unify the Ohlone College board?

Borjon: I believe the fact that I will be a new person on the board will make a difference. I am not shy about my views. The present board members have been there so long that they have formed alliances that cause friction and are not allowing cohesive action. Change is needed. I will represent a part of the diverse population of the college and the community.

We need to review the responsibilities of a board member. They have become micromanagers of the school which is not the responsibility of the board. I will bring a true school board perspective and corporate knowledge of business, finance and budget. I am currently a purchasing manager with Hewlett-Packard. This is something that others running for the board do not have - a real world perspective of corporate business and finance. I bring a different perspective from all others on the board.

TCV: What are the challenges facing the board in the next four years?

Borjon: One of the biggest is accounting for the bond passed by the taxpayers four years ago. There is the Newark Center, the new Student Center and several other projects. All have had significant changes since day one.  If we keep on changing, we are going to run out of money; then we'll have to acknowledge our failures and ask the taxpayers for more money to deliver what we promised four years ago.

TCV: How will the Newark Center operate?

Borjon: I see the Newark campus as an extension of the Fremont campus. It will have some focus on specific programs such as technology and science. But I do not see this as Fremont and Newark.

TCV: Will sale or lease of frontage property alleviate future fiscal problems for Ohlone?

Borjon: I believe a lease of these properties is best to have a continuous income. It would be good to put a bookstore or something that would benefit the college from sales income. Selling the land would be a one-time fix and then it is gone.

TCV: What needs to be done about the aging infrastructure of the college?

Borjon: One thing is to promote more multi-use of the campus facilities. The theater is not used enough and can bring in more revenue. The age of the buildings and their condition needs to be addressed whether through another bond or money that was itemized for different projects. Miscellaneous money that is destined for other projects may have to be diverted to assure safety of students in our facilities.

TCV: What is the future of Ohlone?

Borjon: This is where alliances with other schools and the business sector becomes important. The traditional role of preparation to the next level of college is not the only role. Now, there are older adults who are retraining due to downsizing and outsourcing. These people need additional skills that can be provided by teaming with businesses and adapting to what the community is looking for.

The role of the community college is changing. If they don't have ties to the corporate world, students will go to technical colleges. More high school students are coming to Ohlone and that is good as the college continues to provide a transition into a four-year school, but they also need to look at other potential customers who require technical careers.

TCV: Anything else?

Borjon: I would like to emphasize that the length of time board members have stayed on the job has caused them to lose perspective of why they are there. I propose that when I am elected that we look at the responsibilities of the board - who are we here for and who are we serving? We should be on the board because we are volunteering to do this because we like it and are doing this for the kids, the college and the faculty. I have been in the community for 20 years and will bring a fresh perspective without political connections. Overall, I have a grounded perception, a change that is needed.

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