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"I just missed being on campus", he said. "The whole intellectual and cultural activity is inspiring. I feel like it keeps me young and sharp." Previously the president of Laney College in Oakland and Mission College in Santa Clara, Chong had several suitors, he said, but SRJC got his full attention. It has a stable board, a diverse community and a great location, he said, and SRJC has a sterling reputation. "I see my job is to make a great college better," he said.
"In 1995, the people in Sonoma County had the vision and the foresight to build the Petaluma campus. It was the right thing to do," he says. "... We have to develop our own niche at Petaluma, and to do that we have to find out what the community wants."
Dr. Chong came here from Washington D.C., where he worked for the Obama administration promoting community colleges. In the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Obama spoke directly about the importance of community colleges in the process of economic recovery. "I was very excited. I felt that part of my work was in his speech, and I feel really proud and pleased that the president realizes that community colleges are where it's at. The challenge, as we all know, is the funding," Dr. Chong said.
"The president gets it. He understand the value of community colleges in terms of reaching an electorate that would support public education and the role that community colleges play is vital to getting us into a better economy and becoming a better country."