After a short leave from education, Valley College’s new dean has reimagined hope and ideas for the campus.
By Matthew Royer, Political News Editor
It should be no surprise that Carmen Dominguez is coming out of retirement. In her first four hours as new dean at Valley College on Monday, the self-described Disney fanatic seemed to conduct as much energy as Captain Marvel.
Last serving as Cypress College’s vice president of instruction in 2020, Dominguez spent most of her life teaching. Graduating from San Diego State University with her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in music, the new Monarch started her education at the community-college level as a dual-enrollment student. She served as dean at College of the Canyons where she worked alongside President Barry Gribbons, who held the position of deputy chancellor. At Valley, Dominguez hopes to share the ideas she gained through her experiences with faculty and the student body.
“I retired young and realized I was very interested in coming back and helping,” said Dominguez. “When I saw this position open, I thought ‘I know how to do that. I did it at COC. I can help.’ I immediately wanted to offer my services.”
The new dean’s arrival comes during the construction of the Valley Academic & Cultural Center, which officials say will “bring the Media Arts Department and the Theater Arts Department into a single complex—for a more collaborative learning environment.” Dominguez said she was excited to see the new developments happening on campus.
“There’s this vibrancy. You can feel that the campus is getting renewed,” said Dominguez. “It’s a great energy to attach yourself to and be a part of. It’s exciting for students too; this campus is going to continue to grow, just like we all should.”
Student growth is vital to Dominguez. In her new position titled “Dean of Academic Affairs, Arts and Media Design,” the former music teacher is inspired by the opportunities LACCD and Valley provide their students. After graduating from SDSU, Dominguez received her Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting from Johns Hopkins University, becoming a professor of music at Saddleback College shortly thereafter. After 16 years of teaching, the arts advocate entered the role of dean for visual and performing arts at COC, overseeing their regional performing arts center and its related programs. Finding connections between music and leadership, Dominguez believes there is importance in building relationships that benefit faculty and the student body.
“Music is collaborative,” said Dominguez. “You have to facilitate and gather to work together to create a final beautiful project.”
Citing the Guided Pathways program, the framework described by the CCC Chancellor’s Office as “a highly structured approach to student success that: provide all students with a set of clear course-taking patterns that promotes better enrollment decisions and prepares students for future success,” Dominguez feels that Valley has laid out a vision for their students that can foster innovation and the next generation of workers in the Valley.
“With Guided Pathways, there is the opportunity to come here, get the training from our faculty and then work in the Valley community,” said the community college alumna. “Later on, students can then enter their career choice or get their foot in the door where they couldn’t have before. Connecting with that is my goal. I’m excited that students can come here, decide what they want to do and start that exact day. It’s fantastic.”
Growing up in Southern California, including a period in nearby North Hollywood, Dominguez spent her early days surrounded by the entertainment industry. A self-proclaimed Disney fanatic, Dominguez enjoys Marvel Comics and “The Mandalorian.” Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dominguez was an annual pass holder at Disneyland.
As part of the inspiration for her return to work, Dominguez finds comfort from the different hobbies she partakes in and the creative space she has built for herself at home in Pomona. The artist can be found building light fixtures in her makerspace, working on illustrations, playing her piano or even grilling, a hobby she enjoys with friends while watching football.
A few hours into her new job at Valley, Dominguez provided a message for the community she hopes to assist through her work, “I became dean because I want to help faculty help students.”