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New President Seeks to Build on Success : Staking Out El Camino's Future

June 14, 1987|GERALD FARIS | Times Staff Writer

The newly appointed president of El Camino College in Torrance does not see himself as a reformer.

After all, in his 22 years as an administrator at the college--the last 10 as vice president of instruction--Sam Schauerman has had a hand in making the 22,000-student college what it is.

"We are succeeding," he said. "We have done a good job in vocational training and in transfer training."

But at the same time, the 58-year-old Schauerman said he wants to see some improvements, particularly in serving Asian, black and Latino students who make up half the student body. Minority students are El Camino's fastest-growing group, he said.

"We have a ways to go," said Schauerman, explaining that the college has to attract even more minority students. "Part of it is that the culture does not look at college as a way to move ahead in the world. They may feel we have a pretty white staff and may not feel welcome."

El Camino has an older, largely white staff, although Schauerman said that in recent years, the minority ranks have grown. "People don't leave here until they retire," Schauerman said.

Although he offered few specifics, the new president said the college must be "more creative" in recruiting minority students, particularly from surrounding cities. "We have to let them know we're interested in them, and they have to be informed about the positive results of education," he said.

Schauerman also said the college must work more closely with local industry to train students in fields vital to industry. It also must strengthen efforts to prepare students for transfering to four-year colleges or universities, he said.

Schauerman called El Camino's current transfer program with UCLA "the tip of the iceberg."

In this program, faculty from the college and the university consult each other on a variety of topics, such as recommended class work for students planning to transfer to UCLA. Those with high grade-point averages are given preferential treatment for admission to UCLA.

Although Schauerman said finance is always a problem for community colleges, which get most of their money from the state, he believes things have improved with Gov. George Deukmejian's pledge a month ago to increase state community college funding by more than $140 million. "I have a very optimistic view of finances," he said.

Schauerman was chosen last week by the board of trustees to replace outgoing President Rafael L. Cortada, who will become president of the University of the District of Columbia in August after five years at El Camino. Schauerman will begin his new duties, at an annual salary of $84,000, on July 3 after Cortada leaves, but will not take his new title officially until Aug. 22.

Observers and Schauerman himself were reluctant to contrast the new El Camino president with the man he is replacing. But a picture emerged of Cortada as a decision-maker who used his vice presidents and deans as advisers and made up his mind quickly. Schauerman, on the other hand, takes more time to reach conclusions, relies strongly on his top staff and strives for consensus.

One person called Cortada "a man in a hurry," and said Schauerman is "laid back."

Schauerman himself said, "I want to make sure there is a team approach to the whole idea of making decisions about things."

College officials said they believe the school's vice presidents and deans will have more authority under Schauerman than they have had during Cortada's five years as president.

Cortada has had an open-door policy under which people unhappy with their supervisors sometimes have gone directly to him with their complaints. Schauerman said his door also will be open, but he is more likely to insist that people respect the chain of command.

Schauerman said he is considering expansion of the president's cabinet, which now includes the college's three vice presidents and representatives of faculty and non-teaching employees. He also is looking at forming a president's council as an "advisory and communications body with various groups on campus."

Saying that he will delegate as much as possible, the new president added, "I think there is a large group of people on this campus that will work more cooperatively if they are a part of the decision-making process, if they at least have a chance to say something."

School officials said Schauerman's appointment as president--from a field of of 62 candidates--was a popular one.

After teaching math in his native Colorado, Schauerman came to El Camino as an administrative assistant in 1965. He completed his doctorate in education at UCLA in 1972 while working at the community college.

"What I see in Sam is a community leader," said Lila Hummel, president of the college board of trustees. "He is active in the community, he gives service to his church, he is a very excellent educator, and he has a very quiet manner about him."

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