Former West Hills Chancellor, Frank Gornick appointed to community college foundation

By Ed Martin, Editor
Former West Hills College District Chancellor Frank Gornick last year at the West Hills College Lemoore Student Union opening.
Former West Hills College District Chancellor Frank Gornick last year at the West Hills College Lemoore Student Union opening.

Former West Hills College District Chancellor Frank Gornick certainly isn’t wasting away in retirement. It was about a year ago that Gornick, the longtime president and then 16-year chancellor at West Hills, retired after an exemplary career that completely changed the face of post-secondary education in Kings and Fresno counties.

Gornick has accepted a new job, albeit not one that takes an inordinate amount of his time, but it could pay dividends for West Hills students.

Just this past week the California Community College Board of Governors announced that Gornick – and two others – were appointed to the board of directors for the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the official non-profit serving the Board of Governors and Chancellor’s office.

Gornick is currently the chancellor emeritus for the West Hills Community College District. It was in his role as chancellor that Gornick helped to transition the district into a multi-college system by centralizing services and eliminating duplication. He also guided the planning and construction of the West Hills College Lemoore campus, which opened in 2002.

 Before being appointed chancellor, Gornick served as the district’s superintendent and president. Gornick has been a leader in expanding student success programs and improving access to essential technologies through strategic partnerships with private and public organizations.

Joining Gornick as new foundation board members are Ferial Govashiri and Geneve Villacres. Govashiri is the current chief of staff to the chief content officer at Netflix and is the former personal aide to President Barack Obama. Villacres is the deputy director of communications at the Democratic Office of Communications and Outreach in the California Assembly Speaker’s Office.

“We are thrilled at the energy, unique skill sets, and experience that all three individuals bring to the Foundation board,” said Keetha Mills, Foundation president and CEO. “Each new member shows a passion for higher education and a commitment to supporting the California Community Colleges as they work to serve students, close equity gaps, and build a stronger workforce.”

Gornick said the California Community College Chancellor, Eloy Oakley, asked him to serve. The two knew each other as the longtime West Hills administrator moved up the ranks. “The chancellor of the system recommended me,” said Gornick. “So, they asked me to fill out some forms, they came down to visit me, and I was approved this week.”

He’s been to one meeting already. The foundation's board meets four times a year. Members get four-year terms. “They actually do some great work. We (West Hills) actually benefitted a great deal,” remembered Gornick. “Each college gets about 18 ($1,000) scholarships a year.”

Why do this? “I like the way things are moving in the state in regards to education,” said Gornick. “I want to stay in touch with the system without getting too involved. They have done some good things over the years.”

He wants to continue playing an advocate’s role in education. “One of the things I want to do is be a voice for the Valley. I want to represent our interests whenever I can.”

The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official nonprofit foundation to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office. The foundation's mission is to benefit, support, and enhance the purpose of the California Community Colleges system, the largest higher education system in the nation.

Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works to benefit all California Community College students, colleges, college foundations, and the system as a whole by accelerating paths to economic and social mobility, strengthening communities, and reducing barriers to opportunities for all Californians. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation and receives no direct state or public support. For more information, visit

The Foundation was incorporated in 1998 with a staff of one person and since that time has grown to be one of the largest operating foundations in higher education with over 100 full-time employees and annual revenues of over $30 million. 

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