Richard Diggs Candidate for VVC College Board of Trustees District 2

Simone Graham – Editor: Richard Diggs is a long-time resident of this area; his children attended school here and both studied at Victor Valley Community College, as well. He still lives in Spring Valley Lake and is retired from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department. He started in a career of service in the Air force as a young man and moved on to serve in the Marshall and Sheriff’s Departments. He could not be at the college introduction for trustee candidates, filmed and posted on the College Facebook page, as he had a previously scheduled fundraiser to attend. So, you can get to know him here in this interview. See more information about Mr. Diggs’s background, platform, and events until election day

See January 2018 HDG archives, Victor Valley College Board Votes on District Areas, for background on smaller voting areas to elect college board trustees.

How did you decide to run for the Victor Valley College Board?

I think we need someone with more integrity and someone who is a better role model in the community at large. I think the person sitting in that seat now is not that person. I did not think he represented himself well on the board. His history did not reflect that. There was an attempt to recall him. There were two letters of censorship in a five-year period. He was suspended from the Spring Valley Lake Country Club for conduct. All those things collectively are things, if we are looking at trustees (which means trust), we may not want in the person who sits on that board and make decisions about young people’s lives.

Since you have been a candidate, what have you learned about Victor Valley’s needs?

Since I have been in the race, I have had a lot of questions. I found out that if we have a school enrollment of 9.000+ full-time students, we are considered a mid-sized community college. If we drop below 9,000 full time students, we are considered a small campus. We have been bouncing around that number for a while and recently fell below that number. We have 12,000-member student body, but not all of them are full time. It would seem to me that we would want to capture information as to why students are leaving the college. We need to have a survey done by students before they leave the campus. If they drop by withdrawing online, then we need to have a survey for them to fill out; is it class size, is it class scheduling, is it financial? What is the reason for you dropping out of the college? Once we capture that information we can, perhaps, find solutions to it.

Are any other issues you found need a solution at VVC?

Another thing I thought about is that we do not have a very aggressive way to retain students. If we know a student has dropped, we can then contact them and ask if they have the chance to take the class at a different date or a different time, would they be able to continue? Second, if we move toward getting part-time students to bump up to full time students, what would it take? So, we need to talk to our part-time students. You are a part-time student now, but what if we offered this. Would it entice you to move to a full-time status? So, those are the areas that we are not addressing right now. Those are the kinds of things I would like to see happen.

Third, and probably the most important, is I would like to see the California College Promise Grant Program at VVC. Now, the “promise” they have on the website, I confirmed this, is the old board of governor’s waiver fee (BOG Fee Waiver). Which means that they will waive your registration if you do not have the money.

The Promise Program, which is a grant of $750,000 for every junior college, allows the students who do not have the money to go to junior college. Now, they are not great students, but they are good students. They work very hard to maintain their grades, so if they are coming out of high school and they do not have the money to go to college this grant program would give them tuition and books. It would also monitor them through the two-year period to help them get their AA or AS degree. Then, of course, in that two-year period they may qualify for a grant, student aid, a scholarship; anything can happen in that two-year period. But we did not get that passed.

Why wouldn’t they vote for that?

The president, at some point in the discussion with the board realized that it was not going to pass. He did not have the votes to pass the resolution for that grant money. So, he pulled if off the agenda. The board president would not say who it that was not in favor of it, but I did know who was in favor of it. So, that left Brady, Pinkerton, and Wood who were not going to vote for it. It would shock anybody to know that there is no valid reason not to approve a program like that. My thinking is that the board president was so uncomfortable with the conversations going on with that board that before he let it go to final vote, which would have ended the opportunity for ever revitalizing it, he pulled it off the agenda.

I think it is important to know that every junior college in the state of California has that grant program with the exception of Victor Valley College; 114 colleges in the state of California all have it. We do not. Barstow got it, Chaffey got it, Santa Monica got it, all of them.

Are there strings attached to the grant money?

After three years the funding goes away. Then after that, the college has to make up the difference or subsidize the program. I do not know exactly why. But the reason they did not want to vote for it was that they did not want poor kids to go to college. My opinion is that poor kids ought to go to college and not be prohibited because they are poor. I will say that now, and forever, that should not be a reason for them not to go on and further their education if they choose to do that. It is not a gift, it is not a handout program. They have to maintain a certain grade point average. They have to finish the program in two years. They have to sign the agreement just like the college does. Every college in the state thought that is was a good program because they all passed it and they all have the grant money. So, why are we different? My opinion is that it centered around that these were poor kids and it was some kind of handout program. It is a good program, a solid program. We should not punish kids just because they are poor. That is not something they have any control over. So, if they are coming out of high school and they are good students and they want to continue, we are telling them, “Well, I’m sorry, go find a job at Taco Bell because you cannot go on to college”. Unless you can find funding on your own to go to college, which is pretty much impossible.
So, that is my primary reason for running. It is to find out how we can we resurrect that resolution and put it back before the board, get enough votes on that board to get it passed, and get that program at Victor Valley Community College.

That is the primary reason, now, that I have been moving toward my candidacy. Being on that board. I am going to be a force to be reckoned with to bring new ideas, visions, and concepts; I was a captain with the Marshall/Sheriff’s Department serving a total of thirty years, which developed and honed my skills in planning, strategy, and implementation of new ideas and programs.

It certainly seems like it would be a program that would bring up the full-time student numbers. Has the president told you how much more money would come to the college if those numbers increased?

It would bring up the numbers. I do not know that it would give us more money, but it would put the college in mid-class status. Certainly, if they do not have that program they will stay where they are currently, which is bouncing below or bumping a little bit above. They will be back and forth in numbers and will be on the fence in terms of their funding whether it is mid-size college funding or small college funding. The state and the federal government put together this program. They want the students to matriculate and go on to four-year colleges, which most of them do.

We do not know how many of them will go to a four-year college. But who knows? One of them may have the cure for cancer! We have no idea what the potential is for these kids coming out of high school. But we will never know if they do not at least have the opportunity to go on to the next level and find out what their skill sets could be.

Is your family enthusiastic about this?

They are, believe it or not! My wife has been a soldier and warrior for me and my sisters and family have, too, in general. My family is a little political; my father and my great-grandfather were in office. But in my generation, no, we have not been in office. We have been in an active political environment, but not to this extent.

Richard Diggs

“A Lifetime of Decisions with Integrity”

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