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Open office offers chance to feel new president out

Amidst cake, cheese samples and fruit plates, the new president of Valley College, Barry Gribbons, got familiar with staff and faculty.

By Solomon Smith, Managing Editor

Photo by Solomon Smith/The Valley Star

A wide variety of Valley College staff and faculty passed through the president’s conference room Thursday afternoon, to meet with the new President Barry Gribbons.

In a black suit, garnished with a blue and yellow bow tie, Gribbons shook hands, made small talk and listened to issues as scores of people flowed in and out of the conference room; some brought welcome gifts. Dean of Student Services Llanet Martin brought a succulent for Gribbons’ new office. Martin chose the succulent as it is “easier to care for.” She left a note of welcome attached to it.

Conversations meandered from work-related to topical. The extreme heat and humidity were subjects everyone talked about as they spoke in the cool air-conditioned safe haven of the conference room. Another subject that popped up often — the newest residents on campus — the coyotes.

“I see coyotes sometimes when I run at home,” said the Gribbon. “I found that yelling at them just gets their attention, kind of like ringing the dinner bell.”

The president also joked about the occasional aggressive squirrel on his route. An avid runner, his early morning 5 a.m. run times make for the occasional lonely encounter with errant wildlife.

Gardening Supervisor Jack Epling discussed the changing face of Valley and the big job of bringing greenery to every corner of the campus. Epling was happy with the president’s ability to speak to his concerns about the challenges of his job.

“You always hope the [new] president has a good grasp of what a large landscape needs,” said Epling.

The mixer was also an opportunity for staff and faculty to catch up, talk about the next task on the agenda or simply discuss their summer. Gribbons conversed with David Cameron, senior computer network specialist at Valley, about electric cars.

“I like the president,” said Cameron, “he seems like a down to earth kind of guy.”

The president even shared a little about himself and his family as he became more comfortable, particularly, his son Luke’s love of baseball.

“My son is a fanatic about the Dodgers, we go to probably seven or eight games and we go to the training camp,” said Gribbons. “I did not watch a lot of baseball in the last 20 years, but my son is so enthusiastic it’s infectious.”

Noticeably missing, however, were students. No student clubs, groups or individuals showed, unfortunately, but the staff was not deterred. Gribbons has planned other meet and greets on campus; one on September 25 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Skybox, and two more on September 26.

The event, which started at 1 p.m., wound down at the scheduled time of 3 p.m. Gribbon shared his feelings about the welcome he has received since taking the job of president.

“It’s amazing how nice the transition has been, how welcoming and nice everyone has been,” said Gribbon. “It’s kind of fun to come into a whole new environment and every day it’s kind of neat to discover a different gem.”

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