Former Administrator Chris McCarthy Dies

Isiah Reyes

Chris McCarthy, former executive vice president of instructional services at GCC, passed away Sept. 22 in his Napa home at the age of 56.

The exact cause of death at this point is still unknown. He passed away in his sleep.
“He was the quintessential nice person, very decent, very friendly and very supportive,” said Jean Lecuyer, professor of physics. “He remains a beloved figure.”

McCarthy had been president of Napa Valley Community College since 2002.

“He was a very dear friend,” said Bart Edelman, professor of English at GCC. “We traveled over the years together and did workshops together. We went to football games together and we were supposed to have dinner on Oct. 10.”

During his term as vice president of instructional services from 1995 to 2001, he developed programs such as digital animation, Project for Adult College Education (PACE), a weekend college, and the Tutors Today, Teachers Tomorrow program.

“What always impressed me was that sometimes you would do something that was good, and [McCarthy] would talk about it, and he would make you realize that you’d done something better than you thought,” said Lecuyer.

“He could make something that you would think was just ordinary look so wonderful that it made you want to do even more,” said Lecuyer. “He was kind of motivating that way.”

He had touched the lives of many faculty and staff, most of whom are still at the college today.

“He was head of the committee who hired me, and he was my boss for awhile,” said Kristin Bruno of the instructional services department. “He was really a [dear] friend and mentor to me. He was an inspiring leader.”

Edelman recalls the get-together he had planned with McCarthy next month.

“We hadn’t seen each other for awhile and we were really looking forward to seeing each other again,” Edelman said. “Swapping stories, talking about poetry and publishing, wine and all the normal stuff we always talked about.”

Sue Nelson, Napa College’s vice president of instruction, will perform duties as the college’s acting president. Napa Valley College is situated in Napa Valley, 50 miles northeast of San Francisco.

McCarthy, a poet, had a background teaching English. He completed his doctorate in education on poets who teach in the classroom.

McCarthy had a bachelor’s degree in English from Immaculate Heart College, a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Oregon, a master of arts degree in higher education from the Graduate School of Education at UCLA and a doctorate in higher education from UCLA.

“All of us just hope tomorrow we’re going to wake up and find out it was just a really bad dream,” said Edelman.

McCarthy is survived by his wife Carol, his parents John and Andrea McCarthy, and his brother Eric.