Spotlight on Former ASGCC Presidents: Samir Abou-Rass

Angel Silva, Managing Editor

The following is the first of a series of articles on previous ASGCC presidents employed on campus. Featured in this issue is Glendale College police sergeant and speech professor Samir Abou-Rass, who was ASGCC president from 1988 to 1989.

Having first entered the college in 1985, Abou-Rass, 45, was ASGCC president from 1988 to 1989. He was director of special events before running for that position.

“I ran on the notion of ‘no apathy’ –— at the time the AS and the student body were not really connected,” said Abou-Rass. “Students would pay for services but they weren’t receiving what they were supposed to receive as far as services, the things that [ASGCC] provided.”

As president, Abou-Rass made it a priority to lead ASGCC (then known as ASB) in engaging the campus.

“My office, and it wasn’t just me, it was everybody in our legislature, we were instrumental in bringing a lot of the clubs together. We had lots of different activities, we had social events on campus,” said Abou-Rass.

“We brought ASB to a point where it was recognized in the sense that if students had a problem they would come to us. We were really focused at that time in servicing the college community.”

The school’s finances were a problem at the time, although according to Abou-Rass it wasn’t as bad as the financial situation at GCC today.

To help students pay for the cost of books and classes, Abou-Rass’s administration set up a system of loans for students.

“We were trying in any way, shape and form to help students who were financially challenged,” said Abou-Rass.

The program was set up with the assistance of J. Walter Smith, who was dean of student services at that time. Students applying for it would withdraw money from a special account set up for this program and would pay it back over time.

“Walter was at the time, the person in charge of the ASB, God bless him; he passed away, he was really instrumental with students,” said Abou-Rass. “He was such a good leader in the way of doing business.”

Abou-Rass transferred to Cal State Northridge after attending GCC. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications and went to law school for two years.

“I didn’t like it,” said Abou-Rass. “It wasn’t my cup of tea.”

He returned to GCC and was hired by the police department as a student worker until 1997, when he was offered a full-time position as a police officer. From there he went to Cal State Los Angeles and received a master’s degree in public administration, and in 2006 started working on campus as a speech teacher.

Abou-Rass decided to return to GCC because of the bonds he made here.

“I practically grew up here,” said Abou-Rass. “There were so many different staff members and teachers that I formed such a great relationship with over the years from the time I started school to the time I got hired. Glendale College has been like a second family to me. I think I spend more time here than I do at home.”

Next issue will feature outreach coordinator Henan Joof and program specialist Victor Castellanos.