Members of the Board of Trustees, colleagues, guests, family members, and students welcomed President Byron D. Clift Breland, Ph.D. as he received the presidential medal engraved with the San Jose City College seal on August 28, 2014 in the College Theater.
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Investiture Team at San Jose City College (SJCC) Duncan Graham said, “I am very excited the appointment of the new president is a real tipping point for doing some real great things here at SJCC”. This symbolic initiation involves the Chancellor and Board of Trustees handing over the mantle of the college over to the new college or university president’s care. Graham said, “The planning committee in keeping with tradition put together a stage that was symbolic to the culture in which to celebrate the first year that a new president of a college or University takes the job”.
Guests and students with more than 300 RSVP's attended the 2014 Investiture of SJCC’s new college president. A reception was held in the Art Gallery with a live Jazz band welcoming guests. Retired San Jose Council member Forest William said, “I met the president when he first started working at the college”. William’s and his wife joined the event to help celebrate the new hire of SJCC President Breland. Williams said, “Based on what he has done so far, I support him,” After sitting on an advisory board for SJCC, Williams met Breland when he had just started as the interim president at the college. Williams said. “Knowing the great work he has done, makes his appointment worth while”.
Sam Ho, Director of Community Relations, EEO & Diversity said, “The steps for hiring the president required several steps”. Ho said, “The first step required each applicant to be screened by a committee of constituents, faculty and staff”. Committee members looked at applications submitted to the college and vetted several of the applicants. Ho said, “In turn they conducted a two-tier interview session”. By refining their search they were able to propose a final candidate to the Chancellor of SJCC which in turn submitted their candidate to the Board of Trustees. “Dr. Breland was recommended for hire by the Board of Trustees in May of 2014,” Ho said.
Rita M. Cepeda, Chancellor of San Jose Evergreen Community College District (SJEVCD) said, “The investiture of the president is an academic tradition carried on by SJCC”. “The formal ceremony has long been a time honored tradition celebrating the first year of official employment by the president. “The faculty, staff and students move ahead with the official recognition of the president’s academic leadership,” Cepeda said. The ceremony celebrated the new vision and academic leadership expected to be carried out by the newly appointed president of the college.
SJCC began teaching students in 1921 and now reaches more than twenty-thousand students a year. Trustee Dr. Jeffrey Lease said, “We are committed to the idea of diversity and we believe we have found the right man to lead”. Evergreen Valley College President Henry Yong said, “It is my pleasure to congratulate Breland as President, and I look forward to his journey”.
Others also joined the celebration to commemorate the hard work that he has shown within the last year as interim president. SJEVCD Workforce Institute Executive Director Carol Coen said, “The appointment of President Breland bridges the regional skills gap, and ensures that all students especially those that have educational and social economic challenges have the skills and capabilities of success in the next stage of life”. The goals of the college are to help develop opportunities for those in lower class neighborhoods to develop a strong working class. Coen said, “The goal is to work forward and develop skills leading to 21-century capabilities in the work force”.
For others the appointment of President Beland means an end to the revolving door of presidents who have joined the ranks of SJCC and then left abruptly after serving for a short period of time. The Principal of Branham High School Brian Thompson said, “Our obligation is to keep doors open for our students”. “Despite progress or lack of progress, the tradition of a college is met with the challenges of new leadership,” Thompson said. “This means open access, quality in education, and active participation in a global society”.
SJCC is distinguished among its peers. District officials urge equal opportunities, with social equality and justice among its framework for developing higher education for students who would otherwise give up on attending college. Offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes is one way SJCC is creating social opportunities for students to learn new trades to develop skillful employment.
Dr. Breland brings his experience from the East and West coast collegiate arena. According to Breland the focus of a secondary college should remain on helping those who are under served in their communities. Breland said, “We have an opportunity to build on a legacy that has already been firmly established by this institution to make SJCC a destination of choice for individuals who seek higher education and job training”. Breland acknowledged the need to develop the tools in which to bring forward educational guidelines to help develop training skills needed to compete in Silicon Valley’s technical workforce. “This is not simply a vision but a call to action,” Breland said. “Now let’s get to work”.