Andra Verstraete, the Director of Governmental/External Relations,
is a familiar face on campus, having been at the college for 15 years. For six of those years she ran several grant-funded programs focusing on community service and teacher training. For the last nine years, she managed the job placement center working with students to place them in jobs on-campus, off-campus and at internships. She also teaches in both the social science and business divisions. Half of her time is dedicated to helping with activities for Glendale College Foundation. “Growing our alumni program is something that GCC needs,” says Verstraete. “There are so many folks in the community who benefited from GCC, or their children or grandchildren have. We are hearing from former students how their time here really changed their lives. They have gone on to become successful in so many different arenas, and now they really can make a difference.
As the Director of Governmental/External Relations, Verstraete is taking on new challenges. “I have a Master’s degree in public administration and have always been interested in politics and public policy with an emphasis in education,” says Verstraete, whose responsibilities include commuting to Sacramento to advocate for the campus.
According to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which oversees the state’s 112 community colleges, since 2008-2009, community colleges have been cut by $809 million, or 12 percent, and the entire system took a $502 million cut in 2011-2012. Like the rest of the state, Glendale is feeling the impact of these severe budget cutbacks.
With all of the furor over the Presidential Election on the Nov. 6 ballot, it’s easy to overlook the State Propositions. Proposition 30, the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act, will have a tremendous positive impact, if it passes, on funding for community colleges. It temporarily increases personal income taxes on the highest earners – couples with incomes over $500,000 a year — and establishes the sales tax at a rate lower than it was last year. For non-partisan election information, consult the League of Women Voters http://www.smartvoter.org/
“The State budget woes have been ongoing for several years; now more than ever we have to rely on private support in the form of donations and endowments much like private universities,” says Verstraete, “Public funds are no longer enough to meet all of our needs and the needs of the students we educate. The importance of community colleges raising additional funding through our foundations has become increasingly critical. I feel strongly that we must find alternative ways to supplement resources for our students and colleges to achieve our mission and further student success.
“We want alumni and others who are friends of the college to make a connection with GCC,” she continues. We hope our campaign, “Make a Connection. Make a Difference.” will inspire people to connect with the college. “Tell us who inspired you here. Tell us your story. What was it like to be a student a GCC? Did you take one class, several or did you complete your lower division course work here? By making a connection, you are making a difference in the lives of the students today. Tell us your story!”