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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

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7/24/2013 6:00:00 AM
Don Wallace plans to continue Palo Verde College's bright future
Newly-appointed Palo Verde Community College Districtís (PVC) Superintendent and President, Dr. Donald Wallace, brings 22 years of working in higher learning to the Palo Verde Valley.
Newly-appointed Palo Verde Community College Districtís (PVC) Superintendent and President, Dr. Donald Wallace, brings 22 years of working in higher learning to the Palo Verde Valley.

Jaclyn Randall
Former Times Editor

BLYTHE - Newly-appointed Palo Verde Community College District's (PVC) Superintendent and President, Dr. Donald Wallace, brings 22 years of working in higher learning to the Palo Verde Valley and with that experience he intends on continuing building on the tradition of the previous administration. Wallace, or Don as he is known, plans on using his skills in the community by expanding on the diversity that PVC already offers through the student body and courses.

Wallace comes to the valley from California's second largest community college district at Los Rio Community College in Sacramento, where he served as vice-president of Administrative Services for six years.

Prior to Los Rios, Wallace spent 18 years in Oregon where he worked for Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore. and for Oregon Health Sciences, a private college in the Portland area. While at Mt. Hood, Wallace returned to the classroom as a student and pursued and earned a Master's in Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from Portland State University followed by a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D) from Oregon State with an emphasis in community college.

With an extensive career and nearly 20 years in a cooler climate, Wallace felt his move to Blythe was a natural move. Wanting to take the next step in his career to become president at the community college level, the down south native said that Blythe appealed to him due to the community's demographics.

"I liked that there was a higher density of Hispanics in the area and I want to meet their needs," said Wallace.

Wallace is bilingual and very active in the Latino community. While at Los Rios he did lots of work with the immigrant and migrant community aiding them by getting them into programs recognizing that higher learning is sometimes their only hope to survival.

"Sometimes it meant that the students started out in ESL (English as a Second Language) courses but then they moved on to bigger and better things," said Wallace.

These are some of the same intentions he has for PVC by making sure these skills are being used extensively in the community by helping the Latino and the other minorities do what they need to do by first getting them to PVC.

Other ventures Wallace plans on developing include the increasing the number of full-time equivalent students (FTES) who attend PVC and getting the word out about the opportunities that the campus offers to students who are just out of high school.

Currently, the FTES at PVC sits at just over 1,500 with room to increase the student body to approximately 2,000. Wallace is aware that a bulk of the current student body includes distance learning through the prisons, but he wishes to increase the number of traditional face-to-face students.

"PVC is a guaranteed doorway into the California State University system," said Wallace. "It's the best, next step to that level."

Through course articulation, proper planning, and a college agreement, a student is able to take most if not all pre-requisites at PVC and transfer nearly effortlessly into the California State or the University of California system.

"Studies show that people will earn over $1 million more in their career with a college degree," reminded Wallace. "Plus, a person is more likely to get a well-earning job."

Besides obtaining a two-year degree, Wallace is encouraging and promoting the certificated programs that PVC offers such as welding, automotives, nursing (licensed vocational and certified nursing assistant), teacher's assistant, and building construction. He feels that these certifications and skills in these concentrations is important to the economy, especially locally.

"These are jobs that people learn their skills right here and will use right here in the valley," said Wallace. "We [PVC} will help the economy rebound through the workforce and employment. Career and other educational programs is the key."

With a fully sound budget in place and the accreditation intact, Wallace believes that his plans for at least the next three years (duration of his contract) will go to the development of the existing programs and facilities such as the Clancy Osborne Physical Education Building and the Fine & Performing Arts Center. But of course everything starts and ends with the students.

"I can lead them to the future but it is every student {present and future} who will make it better," said Wallace.

When Wallace is able to find the time for rest and relaxation, the father of three and grandfather of one, enjoys vacationing in Mexico. He also plays the guitar and piano and also has experience singing and recording gospel music.

"People who hear me think I am pretty good," said Wallace.

Wallace looks forward to the realizing all the possibilities at PVC. He appreciates the board, faculty, and community's confidence in him to move the college forward.

"I am very grateful to be a part of the community and for the board putting their confidence in me and finding that the skills that they were looking for and the skills that I have mesh," said Wallace. "The community and the people in it are charming. It's a nice place to be."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013
Article comment by: Liz Belyea

Don Wallace was my boss the last 5 years at CRC. He was in one word a superb mentor and our loss is your gain! Don will do great things at Palo Verde!

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