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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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Inauguration Gala for the Board of Trustees


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By Russell Gammon
Guardsman Staff Writer
Published Mar. 8, 1999


Lawerence Wong and Anita Grier, two graduates of City College, were sworn into top positions on the board of trustees by Superior Court Judge Lillian K. Sing during a gala inauguration event held Feb. 25 on the Phelan campus.

Lawrence Wong, who served as board president in 1996, was selected by his colleagues on the board of trustees to reoccupy that position, while Dr. Anita Grier was selected as the new vice president. They will serve as the governing body of City College this year.

The inauguration, attended by over 100 guests, was held in the Madeline H. Russell Atrium of the Louise and Claude Rosenberg, Jr., Library and Learning Resource Center on the Phelan campus. Prior to the speakers, the festivities focused on the Chinese New Year celebration and included traditional Chinese food as well as a ribbon dance and a Chinese musical performance. The inauguration was also billed as an opportunity for the community to support a future Chinatown/ North Beach campus.

The present Chinatown/ North Beach campus is located on Filbert Street, with nine other branches scattered throughout the area, and has long been felt inadequate for the growing needs of City College. City College has purchased a site at the corner of Washington and Columbus streets where they intend to build one multi-floor facility that will consolidate City College’s Chinatown/North Beach campuses, where 6,500 students are currently enrolled.

However, this plan has not been without controversy. The inauguration also attracted protesters who targeted Lawrence Wong as one of the main supporters of the new campus site. The Committee To Save The Colombo Building argue that not only will constructing on that site destroy a building built in 1907, which they claim should be placed on the National Register as a Historic Landmark, but that 71 people will be forced into homelessness because of the residential housing that will be eliminated to make way for the new facility.

Mr. Wong, born and raised in San Francisco, appeared to address the protesters in his inauguration speech when he forcefully stated, "We will build a new campus in the Chinatown/ North Beach and Mission districts," and raised his hands to generate applause. City College is presently in court battling for the right to build on the site.

Wong, on other issues, declared, "The goal this year [for the Board] is to meet with community groups to learn how we can more effectively serve the citizens of San Francisco. It is a new time of opportunity to re-examine who we are, where we want to go as a nation, as a community, as a human race. City College needs to redefine itself. The times require it, if City College wants to continue to be relevant."

Continuing, Wong de-clared, "San Francisco has one of the largest homeless populations in the world. We cannot, must not, do nothing. We need to reach out and lend a hand, to give hope." Wong proposes that City College expand its HARTS program so that, "for those who want to come in out of the cold; our doors are open to you."

Dr. Anita Grier declared in her inauguration speech that in her new position as vice president she would like to see "diversity at work, diversity at its best. The legacy I would like to leave behind is that we can always come together and celebrate our differences."

Mayor Willie Brown was scheduled as the last guest speaker of the night but was delayed, arriving after most of the other guests had already left. The mayor also said, "City College expansion is the response to a need, not a desire to build an empire."

In his own affable way, the mayor, who was also late for an appointment with President Bill Clinton, whom he was scheduled to meet after attending the City College event, took the opportunity to make a joke, stating, "The president’s people have called twice asking, where are you? The president is waiting." Mayor Brown laughs, "I told his people, the president doesn’t vote in San Francisco." And with that, he presented us with our new president, vice president, and board of trustees.

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