‘Rocky’ to retire as LACCD chancellor in ’07

Reza Gostar

Former Pierce College president Darroch “Rocky” Young will be retiring from his position as chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District sometime in August after officially taking the position July 1, 2005.

According to Young, his time in office may appear short on paper, but that is not the case. He played major roles behind the scenes setting the pace and implementing the foundations for changes, which led to enrollment increases in the whole district.

It “really hasn’t been that short (of a time in office), when I was the senior vice chancellor I worked closely with the (previous) chancellor,” said Young.

Pierce experienced similar results under his past leadership.

“Rocky is like a folk hero here…he set in motion changes that still continues today,” said Robert Garber, Pierce president.

When Young first arrived at Pierce to serve as president in 1999, the college had declining enrollment numbers, had suffered an array of presidents and neglect on campus.

Pierce, once in the lead of Southern California community colleges, was sinking.

Enrollment had plunged to 13,000 from its early 1980s peak of 24,000.

Young increased the numbers, got the place “fixed up,” had all the buildings painted, the grounds upgraded and air-conditioning installed on a campus that has broken heat records.

“The steps that Rocky took to try to bring Pierce back… are still being followed,” said Garber.

Young’s retirement came as a surprise to Garber who feels “very followed,” said Garber.

Young’s retirement came as a surprise to Garber who feels “very disappointed to not be able to work with Rocky as a chancellor” any longer.

“I don’t think he will be an easy person to replace,’ said Garber.

In fact, even Young said that many people are disappointed in his retirement, but that he feels that most of the goals he set for himself in regards to the district have been accomplished or will be by August.

“It is going to be nice to leave when everybody wants you stay,” said Young jokingly.

Young has said that his reasons for the retirement are personal in the sense of the time demanded, such as 13 hour days that take away time from his family.

He plans on spending more time with his wife and his 94-year-old mother after his retirement.

“My home is in Thousand Oaks and it is a long ways from Downtown L.A,” explained Young.

According to Young, although he has not contacted Pierce, he is planning on applying for a part time teaching position in the Business Department.

However, he did not clarify a precise time.

Garber said that it would be great to have Young back on campus.

He has great respect for the man who actually hired him, and the admiration is mutual.

After Garber was hired as his permanent replacement, Young described him as an “an excellent choice for the President of Pierce College… an exceptional leader.”

Garber said that part of what makes Young a good leader for the district is the fact that he understands the needs for each college president to play a more responsible, and predominant role on his or her own campus.

After all his accomplishments in education some may be surprised that this career was not his first choice.

“I had no intention of being involved in education,” said Young in 2002.

After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara with honors in 1969, he went on to earn his MBA degree at UCLA.

In graduate school, Young took a job as a teaching assistant and discovered a fondness for the trade, which led him to position at Santa Monica College (SMC).

“I did it and I got a big kick out of it, so when I finished graduate school I thought I would just go and do it for a couple of years and get it out of my system. And then go and make some serious money,” said Young.

Although higher paid opportunities were available, Young stayed at SMC, and became tenured while he was only 26-years-old.

“It would be great to have Rocky back,” said Garber.

Doreen Clay Former staff member of The Roundup and current Pierce public information officer contributed to this report.

(Courtesy of the LACCD)