Years with Associated Students Inc. (ASI): 1973-1974
Position Held at ASI: ASI President
Major: Urban Planning
Clubs and Organizations at Cal Poly Pomona (CPP):
Vice Chairman of the Black Student Union 1971
ASI Senator for the School of Environmental Design 1972
University Union Board Chairman 1974-1975
Co-Founder of the Iota Psi Chapter of Alpha Psi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Current Board Member, CPP Alumni Association
Former Positions Held:
Served as Council Member and Mayor of Covina, three terms
Current Title: Director, Rio Hondo Police Academy, Rio Hondo College
Due to be Covina Mayor Pro-Temp in 2017 and possibly Mayor of Covina in 2018
Why did you want to become ASI’s Student Body President and what did you learn through that experience?
I became interested in the ASI Student President position only after serving as a senator for the School of Environmental Design, where I was majoring in Urban Planning. After serving a year as a senator, I decided to run for the position. My wife Patricia, whom I had married in 1972, was also a student at CPP, a Behavioral Science Major and she was an art minor. She was so wonderful and designed all of my campaign posters, literature and materials. I owe her support to being elected. I wanted to become Student Body President to serve as a voice for the students and assist with making student life at CPP better and more enjoyable. I think that’s been a goal of most Student Body Presidents over the years.
One of the primary lessons I learned was how important it was to work together in a collaborative manner with the students, faculty and administration. I found that when you work together, the sky is the limit. I’m sure that I wasn’t the smartest ASI President but I was gifted with having a love for people and the ability to get folks to work together. I’ve served on the Covina City Council for 18 years, serving as its mayor on three separate occasions, and serving as ASI President helped prepare me for my current role as a city council member. I owe whatever successes I’ve had to ASI and CPP.
What did you accomplish as ASI’s Student Body President?
I think one of the accomplishments made by my administration was the establishment of a closer relationship between students, faculty, staff and administration. I had an outstanding relationship with the administration which I was quite proud of.
One of the primary accomplishments was the planning and construction of a child care center on campus. Many of the students were commuters and in need of child care services while attending CPP, so we worked with the administration to design and build a child day care center. In fact, it turned out to be my senior project.
As ASI President, I also served on the University Union Board which was involved in the planning and construction of the University Union which was the initial phase of the Bronco Student Center. All accomplishments were brought about as a team. I worked together with the ASI officers and Senators to help make positive things happen.
What do you think is the best thing about ASI and why is ASI important to you?
Perhaps the best thing about ASI was the tremendous learning experience. The challenges I faced in ASI Student Government were ensuring that outside of classrooms, students were getting the necessary services. CPP was mainly a commuter school and we tried to have the commuter students’ needs taken care of. Child care gave parents the opportunity to go to school at the time.
Also, Student Government wanted to preserve CPP traditions. Poly Vue was much like Homecoming is today, and events like concerts were great. Student Government supported those efforts. There was not a major building to hold events or concerts. When the University Union was built, that provided services such as meeting room for committees, business services, printing services, games room, hair salon, candy store and the first pub was Blazing Saddles. When you are dealing with student government officers, the challenge as ASI President is to get everyone on board for a certain goal, and you need leadership skills.
ASI was important to me because it provided me with the ability to develop my leadership skills and abilities and prepared me for many of the real life challenges that I would experience in my person life and profession.
What did you learn at ASI that helped you prepare for career throughout the years?
ASI provided tremendous leadership opportunities and it taught me how to serve others, which is a part of my personality. Serving others continues to be my passion and I would say that it all began at CPP, which was my second home at the time I was attending this fine institution that values “learning by doing.”
What professional skills do you think are most important in any career?
From my perspective, the primary skill is getting along well with others. In the law enforcement profession, working with people under the most difficult circumstances and stressful conditions requires exceptional interpersonal skills, confidence, courage, compassion and leadership. CPP really did lay the foundation for me in a profession that I have been involved with for almost forty years.
How do you define success?
I believe success for me personally equates to achieving personal goals and being the best you can be in your profession. More importantly, success equates to paying your success forward by mentoring others. To me, success also equates to being a productive citizen of society by helping those in need no matter whom they are or what their backgrounds are. A major part of my success also stems from my faith, my spiritual side of my life, which has helped me meet lives most difficult challenges.
How did CPP’s learn-by-doing philosophy affect your academic journey?
I have lived by the CPP learning-by-doing philosophy for many years; it really assisted me with critical thinking in many situations I have found myself in. My Urban Planning major has served me well as a city council member over the last 18 years.
What is the best advice you have received and what advice do you have for CPP students?
Try to make an effort to work with everyone and value everyone’s opinion and allow them to bring their ideas to the table. My ASI Advisors told me, “Never tell someone they have a bad idea; try to be open to differences and differences of opinion. Be inclusive.” The reason why I ran as Student Body President was to assist with better communication. I wanted to champion better communication, which was my slogan when I ran for President and my wife designed all my posters.
My advice to CPP students is study hard, but get involved in student activities on campus. Better yet, get involved with ASI, and acquire leadership abilities and skills. Doing so will set you up for success for the rest of your life.
Who are your role models and mentors?
I had wonderful mentors while attending CPP. Faculty, staff and administrators like ASI advisors, John Hanna and June Schaffer; EOP coordinator, Bob Carter; vice president of urban, Bert Hammond; dean of students, Henry House; then vice president, Hugh LaBounty; CPP legal counsel, John Francis; faculty members, Dr. Louis King, James Benson, Sidney Blum, Alan Gasser an art minor class professor, Dr. Charles Clay, Dr. William Anthony and Professor David Bess and many, many more had a tremendous influence on shaping me into the person that I am. Dr. James Bell was vice president of CPP and Dr. Kramer was the president.
Cora Culla, ASI’s Executive Director, is very special. She keeps in touch and I appreciate her continuing the wonderful legacy of ASI.
What is your most memorable CPP experience?
Meeting my wife-to-be, Patricia, in a life drawing art class in 1971. She was truly the love of my life for 38 years, until passing away on May 19, 2009 from a terminal bout of breast cancer. It was CPP that would give me several years of happiness with Patricia. It was also CPP that would lay a foundation for many years of success for me as well.
What is your most memorable ASI experience?
The Grand Opening of the University Union was so important to me and through that project, I made life-long friends from ASI, and my time at CPP was a great experience with fond memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Words to live by:
My absolutely favorite words come from the poem Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning’s of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley