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Thursday, January 14, 2010.

Seasoned administrator to guide Palmdale Site

Robert Bell
Robert Bell

A seasoned administrator who helped develop a second campus for a California community college has assumed his duties as director of Antelope Valley College’s Palmdale Site.

Dr. Robert Bell was named last month as director of extended services for the Palmdale Site by the college’s Board of Trustees.

Bell has approximately 25 years experience in higher education, including serving as vice president and chief administrative officer for Chaffey College’s Chino Campus. At Chino, he took over a college center about the size of AVC’s Palmdale Site on Palmdale Boulevard. Working closely with Chino officials, Bell was able to oversee the development of the campus master plan and the construction of two buildings to serve students in the greater Chino area.

By the time Bell left Chino for another position in 2008, several academic programs unique to Chino had been established and the student population had doubled.

“What I want people to understand … there is a genuine commitment from Antelope Valley College to make a comprehensive campus in Palmdale a reality,” Bell said.

With regard to some of the controversy between Palmdale city officials and college officials, Bell said it’s important to understand the history of issues surrounding a future Palmdale campus, “but not (to) anchor ourselves in the past.”

“I’m confident we can build a campus. It’s going to take time. If we can get people focused on what we’re doing, we will be able to move forward,” he said.

Bell said when he arrived at Chaffey College in 2003, the vast majority of Chino high school graduates were choosing to attend classes at Mt. San Antonio College instead of attend their local college.

“Our governing board and our president clearly felt we had to do something,” Bell said. The Chino community was engaged in the effort and the Chino site was soon established as a viable alternative for area residents seeking education.

Borrowing a quote from baseball great Yogi Berra, Bell said: “It’s like déjà vu all over again. I’m intrigued by the possibilities of Palmdale.”

Bell brings to AVC a wealth of experience.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Redlands, becoming the first university graduate in his family. He has a doctorate in university administration from the University of the Pacific.

After working several years for Harvey Mudd College, University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles, the California native took his first community college job working for Cerritos College.

The students at Cerritos reflected more of a “wide-eyed enthusiasm” for education that he felt he could relate to effectively.

“I can’t imagine working anywhere else except in education and community colleges,” he said.

His experience in two-year colleges has been in student service functions including vice president, dean of admissions and records, dean of students, and coordinator of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services.

Community colleges he’s served at include Mt. San Jacinto College, South Puget Sound Community College and, prior to his appointment at AVC, the Louisiana Technical and Community College System, where he was senior vice president for academic and student affairs.