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Chaparral 2020-2021: 29.5 Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

by Julie Gamberg and Sandy Somo

In this column, employees of Glendale College with different roles engage in dialogue about their departments/divisions, as well as thoughts about a more student-centered campus. Partners are given the same three questions to ask one another, and the option of additional questions and/or taking a selfie together. If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, please feel free to email Sandy Somo or Julie Gamberg (ssomo@glendale.edu; jgamberg@glendale.edu)


Joining us for this issue are Dr. Anthony Culpepper (Administrative Services) and Lyn Ribisi (Facilities).

How long have you been at GCC, and what do you do here?

Dr. Culpepper

I have been at GCC for about 5 years. My role as the Executive Vice President is primarily focused on ensuring the work and learning environment is sustainable for years to come. That means the physical (facilities), fiscal, technological, business, and safety departments are essential to the future success of the District. This emphasizes the importance of the work that you do every day. These departments support the work of what is called Administrative Services.

What do you wish people to know about your division or department that you think they might not totally understand?

Dr. Culpepper

The people that work within the departments I listed above are on the frontline of the operations of the District. I would hope that everyone who comes to work at the District recognizes that before they enter the classroom, office, or any other part of the campus that one of their colleagues from facilities has been there to make it clean and usable; further, during these days as safe as possible. In addition, grounds (landscape) are kept presentable to those who use it and to the public who views it. The technology and furnishings in each space and place have been prepared and serviced by someone who is focused on ensuring the security of their workspace by protecting their personal data and communication exchanges. To do this type of work well takes a person with high moral and ethical character; these are the traits of the people that work in the physical (facilities), fiscal, technological, business, and safety departments; and I would hope our colleagues begin to appreciate those facts.

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Dr. Culpepper

As noted above, the work that is done in those departments are on the frontline. Everything that has been and will be done is already student-centered. To be student-centered is the fuel of the operational engine that motivates all of our colleagues that work in Administrative Services. It would be encouraging for all of our colleagues that work in the various other departments embody a level of respect for those of us who are truly on the frontline every day; who focus on ensuring each of them have a functional, effective, and safe work and learning environment.

Bonus Questions/Conversation!

What is the most fun thing you’ve been able to do at GCC?

Dr. Culpepper

I don’t remember the event, but it was in the gym. Ed Karpp was the MC and we were dancing around the gym.

Tell me a little bit about where and how you grew up.

Dr. Culpepper

I grew up in East Los Angeles. I was born and reared in Southern California. As many communities were in the 60’s, my neighborhood was challenged with social unrest and scarcity of economic opportunities.

What are your biggest influences in business? In how to live life?

Dr. Culpepper

My father owned his business. This was my first exposure to the concept of business. It encouraged me to pursue business disciplines in college. I saw it as an opportunity for economic progression. Positions in business were highly likely to offer wages that could allow one to take care of themselves and be socially sustainable.

If you had a personal motto, what might it be?

Dr. Culpepper

Never compromise your morals and ethics, because at the end of the day you can leave a job and even change careers, but you will always have to live with yourself.

Tell me about what you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, sports, etc.

Dr. Culpepper

I like to salsa dance with my wife. Watch movies with my family. I Golf. Golf. Golf.

What was your major in college?

Dr. Culpepper

Business management and Accounting. Education. Law.

What would you say is the value of education?

Dr. Culpepper

There are few gateways in life; education is one of those few. The value of education is not limited to creating an opportunity for livelihood; it is a character changing pursuit.

What are your biggest challenges as a dean in a community college?

Dr. Culpepper

I have been a Dean and Vice Provost in four-year private institutions. However, as the Executive Vice President balancing the administrative resources to support the creation of an effective work and learning environment with the long-term sustainability needs of the district is always a major challenge.

What is your proudest career accomplishment?

Dr. Culpepper

Being able to be an example unto my children who have now achieved their own college degrees is my proudest career accomplishment. I believe that if one’s life experiences have not positively affected someone else, the journey of career success is incomplete.

How long have you been at GCC?

Lyn

I’ve been working at GCC for 7 years, and I work in the warehouse. I receive packages, computers, and equipment that are coming to the school. The best part of my job is delivering these items to the various staff members. I get to meet everyone, and I love getting to know our crew. My job is unique in that I get to bring people “presents,” so they are always glad to see me. I love that!

What do you wish people to know about your division or department that you think they might not totally understand?

Lyn

I am constantly inspired and continually impressed by how hard the people in my department work. Their friendliness, attitudes, and offers of help always amaze me. I can’t think of any one of my teammates who wouldn’t go the extra mile to help someone.

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your division/department?

Lyn

I think that facilities staff are somewhat invisible. This may be a good thing if you look at it from another viewpoint. If the campus was in disrepair, had malfunctioning equipment, without air conditioning or heating, or was covered with litter, people would notice facilities—in a bad way! I recently read some reviews of our campus somewhere online, and two of them mentioned the friendly staff and the clean campus.

All of that doesn’t exactly answer the question, so to do so I’d say that the facilities staff would love to hear a hello along with comments about the products they work so hard for.

Bonus Questions/Conversation!

What do you want to do when you retire?

Lyn

I think I have a different viewpoint on retirement than most people. I actually don't want to retire—especially now that I've just about finished my Master's in History (April 28th!!) and I hope to become an adjunct professor soon! So I plan to teach and work in facilities as long as I can. Umm, my husband doesn't feel the same way, though, so we have some discussions ahead of us it appears.

Tell me a little bit about where you grew up?

Lyn

I grew up in New York. I was born in the Bronx, spent my high school years in Connecticut, went to college in Lake Forest, Illinois, then back to New York City. I love both the country and the city and miss one whenever I live in the other! 

What are your biggest influences in business? In life?

Lyn

I admire people that are hard-working, talented, and successful. I admire people in the past and the present who have the courage to risk everything and fight for what they believe in.

If you had a personal motto, what might it be?

Lyn

My motto is: If it’s not fun, make it fun. Somehow. Anyhow. Also, work hard and do your best at whatever you choose to do. But mostly, have fun!

Tell me about what you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies, sports, etc.

Lyn

I have so many hobbies. I love family history/genealogy, researching, reading, running, going to the beach, photography, crafts, and getting together with my family and friends.

What was your major in college?

Lyn

During my years at Lake Forest College, I was creating my own major of Cosmology which is the origin and nature of the universe. I combined math and physics for that major. I was lucky because there were many very talented professors there who helped me. I have always loved history and teaching, so when I returned to school, I majored in history.

What would you say is the value of education?

Lyn

Education is transformative. It offers a student a chance to explore so many aspects of life and a way to grow as a person.

What advice might you have for students?

Lyn

Try to put your studies as a first priority. I realize life can be complicated and social pressures can sometimes take precedence. But work hard, and you will be rewarded.

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