Dr. Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh selected to lead Grossmont College
Dr. Nabil S. Abu-Ghazaleh, president of West Los Angeles College, has been named president of Grossmont College effective July 1.
Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said Abu-Ghazaleh’s more than a quarter-century in California community college leadership, including the four years he has held the top post at the Culver City campus, made him the solid choice to take the helm of the 18,000-student El Cajon college.
“He has a clear record of innovative leadership, collegial cooperation, and community engagement,” Miles said. “His community college career includes a decade as a tenured instructor before he moved into administration, where he has proven himself as a highly effective leader in budget strategies, enrollment planning, student success, and employee relations.
“He also understands the importance of developing good relations with the business and local community. In West Los Angeles, he immediately got to work, expanding the visibility of the college and actively engaging with community projects. Grossmont College will be in great hands with someone as well-rounded as Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh, with his skills in community college administration, as well as his collegiality.”
Governing Board President Bill Garrett praised Abu-Ghazaleh for his history of collaboration with neighboring colleges, school districts, industry groups and public agencies on regional education and training needs. He also pointed to his experience expanding grants programs and leading student success initiatives for a diverse student body.
“We have found an innovative leader who is able to lead internally and to see beyond the college perimeter to develop ties with the community in ways to enhance the education provided to our students,” Garrett said.
Abu-Ghazaleh said he is thrilled about his new post at Grossmont College and happy to be returning to San Diego, where he first lived years ago as a college student.
Born and raised in Jordan and Qatar in the Persian Gulf, he attended two years of boarding school in England before moving to the United States to begin college at the University of California, San Diego.
About Grossmont College, Abu-Ghazaleh said he is “enchanted” by the vitality of the campus and how committed students are to learning.
“In my interactions with students and employees, I was struck by how rich the academic and co-curricular offerings, and student services are at Grossmont – this isn’t just a commuter college,” he said. “It’s a place where faculty members are deeply engaged with students, the staff is very welcoming, and students are very focused when talking about their studies and their futures.”
A varied background
Before taking leadership of West Los Angeles College in 2011, Abu-Ghazaleh served as vice chancellor of educational services and technology at Coast Community College District in Costa Mesa; vice president of academic affairs at Pierce College in Woodland Hills; dean of student learning at Moorpark College near Simi Valley; and interim dean of engineering and technology at Pasadena City College.
It was at Pasadena City College where he began his community college career in 1989 as an associate professor in engineering and technology – a “happy accident,” he said, from spotting a classified ad in the paper. A Caltrans engineer at the time for less than two years, Abu-Ghazaleh had gotten a taste of teaching from training fellow workers in computer-aided engineering and discovered a love for the classroom.
“My only familiarity with community colleges at the time was through my wife, who had graduated from Glendale College and transferred to UCSD, which is where I met her,” he said.
After his stint with Caltrans, he spent the next decade as a tenured professor before his promotion as interim dean at Pasadena City College, where his wife, Rita Gonzales, is now a tenured associate professor in the speech communication.
“I realized I could touch the lives of more community college students as an administrator than an instructor,” he has said at a campus forum.
Following a nationwide search, a 16-member committee of faculty, staff, administrators, students and community representatives screened and interviewed candidates for the college’s top post. The committee selected four finalists, who participated in public forums in April. Extensive reference reviews and interviews with the district’s chancellor and governing board yielded the top choice to lead Grossmont College.
Abu-Ghazaleh holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fullerton; a master’s in education from the University of California, Los Angeles, a master’s in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego; and a bachelor’s in engineering sciences, also from UCSD.
He is a board member of the Chief Executive Officers of the California Community Colleges and is chair of the board of Intelecom, a regional community college educational technology corporation.
“I look forward to building new relationships with fellow educators, the communities of East County, and of course, our students who reflect wonderfully diverse communities,” Abu-Ghazaleh said. “Continuing to build on Grossmont’s excellent traditions, together we will embrace the opportunities of a rich, eminent future.”