City College has finally found its next leader after 1 ½ years without a permanent president: Michael Gutierrez, who left Eastfield College, a community college near Dallas, Texas, to take the position here.
Gutierrez officially took office at City College on July 24, 2017.
Like many college administrators, Gutierrez has an extensive background in education.
Unlike many college administrators, Gutierrez has shadowboxed with Muhammad Ali.
When Gutierrez was an undergrad, he went to a center where Muhammad Ali practiced in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
“Muhammad Ali was actually there, and he selected me to shadowbox with him,” Gutierrez, 48, said. “He taps me on the shoulder and starts hopping around, and he’s trying to fake box me, basically. I’ll always remember that.”
Like a boxer preparing for a fight, Gutierrez is focused on groundwork. His current goal is to develop a nuanced understanding of the City College community before he ultimately collaborates with the community to create a five-year plan.
“Part of being at a college like City College, where it does have a long history, it does have a lot of pride in its culture,” Gutierrez said, “is to, one: take the time to not only appreciate what we have to offer, but get to know the people that are in it, which includes the students, the faculty, the staff, and then collectively work together to establish what our vision is going to be.”
Gutierrez brings a lot of experience to the table, including 8 ½ years at Eastfield College as a vice president. However, he doesn’t believe in taking a cookie-cutter approach to the job.
“What I used to do at my previous stop may have worked there,” Gutierrez said, “but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work here. It’s really taken these first few months to get to know what we’re all about and become part of it.”
Gutierrez has been making the rounds and getting to know the community, and he made an impression on Irma Gonzalez, a student assistant at the Student Equity and Success Office.
“I think he’s pretty awesome. He seems very dedicated, very excited about being here,” Gonzalez said. “He’s so interested in learning what we can teach him. He’s ready to learn whatever there is to learn to make this school better.”
Many students haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet the new president, including second-year computer science major David Jordan, who recently found out the position was filled.
“Hopefully he understands and knows what we need,” Jordan said, also voicing some concern about high textbook prices.
Since his start during the summer semester, Gutierrez has gotten a sense for the campus environment.
“It’s a very diverse college, and it truly is a reflection of our community,” Gutierrez said. “The second impression that I get, both from students and the people that work here, they really want to be part of Sac City College. I’ve worked at other colleges before, and that’s not always the case.”
While Gutierrez is getting to know the needs of the campus, he’s also familiarizing himself with the city.
“For me, there’s a lot of adjustment moving from another state, coming to Sacramento City College,” he said. “A new city, a new home, and not just for myself, but for my family as well.”
Gutierrez’s wife and two children moved to Sacramento with him, but he was originally concerned about the effect of uprooting his family.
“The first thing I thought of was talking to my wife, ‘Is this something we want to do as a family?’” Gutierrez said. “She had been a little lukewarm when we’d talked about other areas, but when she heard that Sacramento was a possibility, she was like, ‘Yeah, I’m good with that.’”
Gutierrez’s children are going to start school in the Sacramento City Unified School District, and they were much more on board with moving than he expected.
Gutierrez believes strongly in the value of community colleges, and is grateful that he has the opportunity to help the community.
“It does feel like we are changing the lives of people in our community by allowing them the opportunity to transform,” Gutierrez said. “I’m all in. It really does feel like I’m giving back to the community that I serve.”