New community college president grateful for Pacific education
“I thought Pacific was going to be filled with intellectuals smoking pipes, and I wondered how this San Joaquin Valley boy would fit in. But I got here and everyone was so down to earth. I fit in immediately." —Sean Hancock ’13 EdD
Sean Hancock had a vision of what to expect when he started his doctoral studies at University of the Pacific in 2009.
“I thought Pacific was going to be filled with intellectuals smoking pipes, and I wondered how this San Joaquin Valley boy would fit in,” Hancock ’13 EdD said with a laugh. “But I got here and everyone was so down to earth. I fit in immediately.
“The doctoral student cohort that I was in at Pacific was very close. And I stay in touch with professors (Delores) McNair and (Rachelle) Hackett. They were great professors and are so supportive of their students.”
Hancock’s dissertation at Pacific was titled “The Effect of Content Knowledge on Students’ Perception of Instructors’ Teaching Effectiveness.”
Hancock credits his studies at Pacific’s Gladys L. Benerd School of Education (now Benerd College) as a key element in his opportunity to be a college president. He recently started as president of Cerro Coso Community College, which is based in Ridgecrest and has six facilities spread throughout eastern Kern County.
“I have only been here for three weeks, so I am still trying to figure everything out in a community college district that is very widespread,” said Hancock, a native of Visalia. “I’m excited to be here, to have the opportunity and to connect with students. And I am very grateful for everything that got me to this point.”
Cerro Coso students—now predominately studying remotely—would otherwise take classes at the Eastern Sierra Center (Bishop and Mammoth), Ridgecrest, and East Kern (Lake Isabella, Edwards Air Force Base and Tehachapi) campuses.
The district covers 18,500 square miles—the largest community college district in the state—and serves a rural population of 85,000. Cerro Coso also teaches courses for incarcerated adults.
“Dr. Hancock brings extensive experience in higher education administration, instruction and student learning support services that will ensure Cerro Coso Community College’s continued emphasis on improved student outcomes,” said Thomas Burke, chancellor of the Kern Community College District.
During his doctoral studies at Pacific, Hancock directed the Modesto campus for San Joaquin Valley College, a private, for-profit career school. He worked in that position for 10 years.
He later spent four years with Palo Verde College in Blythe as vice president of student instruction and services. “I got a chance to learn it all, serving in both instruction and services. That was great experience,” Hancock said.
That was followed by two years as vice chancellor for student and institutional success at Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in El Cajon.
“At that point I wanted to look into potential president positions. It has worked out well for me and I’m excited about the opportunities and challenges at Cerro Coso,” Hancock said. “It is a big change moving from the San Diego area to such a rural setting. But I am excited to be back on a college campus. I also have a familiarity with and belief in teaching the incarcerated. I am invested in the overall mission of Cerro Coso.”
Hancock and his husband, Eric Le Berge, are in escrow for a home in the Ridgecrest area. Their wedding was at Morris Chapel on Pacific’s Stockton Campus.
“It is such a beautiful chapel and having our wedding ceremony there added to what was a memorable time for me at Pacific,” Hancock said.