Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grossmont College's 'Dr. J' shoots for threes as new dean of career, technical education

A former administrator at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., is Grossmont College’s new dean of career and technical education and workforce development.
Javier Ayala, or “Dr. J.” -- a moniker the Julius Erving fan picked up from his classmates when he earned his doctorate -- oversees 63 vocational departments and programs, including administration of justice, business administration, business technology, child development, computer science and information systems, culinary arts, and hospitality, along with health and workforce initiatives and non-credit instruction.
Javier Ayala introduces himself to Culinary Arts students.
Grossmont College students on a career-technical education or CTE track focus on the skilled trades, applied sciences, and modern technologies that make up the bulk of today’s jobs. The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District regards workforce and career preparation a critical part of its two colleges’ service to the community, along with meeting student needs for university transfer, general education and basic skills courses.

“The district has been leading conversations statewide about CTE and workforce development, and I aim to contribute to that leadership,” Ayala said. “We have a rich diversity of students, business and industry, and our programs need to continuously respond to diverse needs. Our faculty and community partners are at the core of making this happen.”
During a recent visit to a culinary arts class, Ayala encouraged students to let their instructors know about any potential business or industry partnerships they come across, which could develop into job placement, scholarships and training opportunities.
“We are all about getting you placed into good-paying jobs,” he told the students.
As dean of career and technical education at Monroe Community College in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, where he was hired in 2012, Ayala led the startup of programs in cybersecurity, information technology, mechatronics, manufacturing and more. He helped obtain a $14.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the college’s optics programming and applied STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas. Ayala also helped acquire philanthropic dollars from Corning and secured student internship and job-placement partnerships for MCC students with Verizon and Google.
In 2014, Vice President Joe Biden toured MCC’s Career Technical Education Applied Technologies Center and praised the college as a national model for college workforce training. The MCC center works with more than 2,000 businesses to provide customized training for new high-tech manufacturing jobs.
Prior to MCC, Ayala served as dean of curriculum and vice president at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon from 2007-2011, where he led the accreditation of the school’s viticulture and enology program, known as the Southern Oregon Wine Institute.  Ayala also previously worked as a director of institutional research and assessment at Clatsop Community College in Astoria, Oregon, and as faculty development and assessment manager at Portland State University.
“Dr. Ayala comes to us with a solid foundation of experiences spanning research, assessment, curriculum development, career technical education, and workforce development,” said Grossmont College President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh. “His track record includes development of more than 20 academic programs and securing over $20 million in revenue.  We are delighted to welcome him to Grossmont College, where he will contribute much to further the college’s stellar reputation for its top-notch career-technical education.”
Ayala said in addition to an opportunity to return to Southern California where he spent his formative years, he was drawn to Grossmont College for its progressive workforce development programs.
“Grossmont College attracted me because of its goal of wanting to transform career-technical education and workforce development, both areas of my expertise,” he said. “Grossmont aims to be a world-class institution and as a dean, I want to contribute to that effort.”
Born in El Salvador, Ayala moved to Southern California with his parents in the 1980s as war broke out in his country.  Most of his family resides in the Inland Empire region and San Bernardino.
“I was the first in my family to ever go to college and first to graduate from high school,” said Ayala, who went on to earn a doctorate in education from Oregon State University. “My Ph.D. cohort first called me Dr. J since so few if any Hispanic communities ever encounter a person with a doctorate.”
His introduction to community college came when an Oregon bank where he worked as a teller offered to pay for a course at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. 
“I took the course and for the first time, saw myself as a learner – the course transformed my life,” Ayala said. “And from that point, I wanted to transform the lives of others, so I set myself on a path of teaching and became an educational leader.  I love helping individuals find a career that creates passion and hopefully one that changes their lives, like mine was changed.”
Ayala launched his education career in the late ‘90s as a high school Spanish teacher and followed that with a five-year stint teaching university classes in language acquisition and educational leadership to new teachers.
 In addition to his doctorate, Ayala holds a master’s degree in educational policy, organization, and management from the University of Oregon; a bachelor’s degree in politics with a focus on comparative studies and Latin America from Willamette University, a private liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon; and an associate of liberal arts degree from  Chemeketa Community College.   
Ayala and his wife, Mitzi, have three young sons, Diego, Cruz, and Andres.
About Grossmont College
Grossmont College has served the diverse educational needs of San Diego’s East County since 1962. With a wide variety of certificate and associate degree programs, Grossmont College provides workforce training, career development and transferable college-level coursework to its more than 18,000 students. For more information, visit

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