GCC Reorganizes Public Information

Tania Chatila
El Vaquero Staff Writer

As a result of reorganization of the college’s Office of Communications, Marketing and Foundation, longtime staff member and adjunct teacher Merry Shelburne has lost her job as Public Information Officer.

The stated reason of the reorganization plan is to reach out to a broader base of talent to address public relations, marketing and fund-raising needs for the college.
The plan, announced in June, emphasizes a number of changes geared to keeping GCC a key player in the Glendale community. Among those changes, the plan calls for the recruitment of an Assistant Director of Communications, Marketing and Fundraising (the position remains to be filled) to work directly under Ann Ransford, Director of Communications, Marketing and Fundraising. The plan will promote and market the college’s programs and services to the community. The reorganization plan also eliminated the position of Public Information Officer. Shelburne was laid off June 28.

“I was so stunned I could hardly speak” said Shelburne. “The president kept saying, `It’s nothing personal.’ I truly loved my job. The president, as well as other members of the Board of Trustees, has been cooperative in accommodating my requests [regarding separation benefits].”
The termination came as a shock not only to Shelburne, but also to her staff. “When I found out, I was devastated and I felt betrayed,” said Public Information Assistant and Shelburne’s longtime friend Wendy Grove. “I never saw it coming.”

Shelburne, a graduate of GCC and one-time El Vaquero staff member and El Vaquero adviser, was first hired at the college as a part-time “editorial assistant” in 1977. In 1982, when GCC separated from the Glendale Unified School District, Shelburne was given the opportunity to serve as the college’s first and full-time PIO. Along with her work in public information, she has taught a number of public relations classes at the college, and plans to continue teaching.
“Anytime you have to make those kinds of decisions it’s always painful,” said Ransford. “The whole issue of marketing and public relations has changed so much,” she said. “Colleges are re-thinking ways of reaching out to students. We need people with more experience.”

Through this new plan, Ransford hopes to bring in consultants to help the college maintain visibility within the community and the surrounding communities from a business perspective through advertising and media relations.

“I think we are going to be able to broaden our talent,” said Ransford. “It’s going to give the opportunity for an outstanding job of communicating and marketing to the greater student and business community. GCC is such an outstanding resource; we need to get out and share it.”
Among many responsibilities, the department handles fund raising and media relations such as advertising and the production of brochures, billboards, class schedules and school catalogs.
The community has expressed concerns about the over-development of GCC. Some believe that by using marketing to reach out to more students, the population at GCC will increase by massive numbers, but from students coming from outside of the Glendale community.

However, Ransford feels that the college must continue to grow in order to offer better services for students. Ransford particularly emphasizes the importance of supporting the community college and education as a whole.

“We couldn’t offer all the classes we do with only the base of Glendale. We couldn’t do the job we’re doing without people from outside the community. We are always losing students, so we need to continually look to new pools of students.”

Among the department’s current projects, it is mainly focused on raising money for the new Cimmarusti Science Center. According to Ransford, $1.8 million has already been raised for the center in donations. The $5 million project is expected to be completed by spring of 2003.