Hal Plotkin, vice president of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees, will resign his board seat effective July 7 to immediately accept a position in the administration of President Barack Obama. Plotkin will serve as senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Education, reporting to Under Secretary of Education Martha J. Kanter, outgoing chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza district.
Plotkin was first elected to the board in 2003 and re-elected without opposition in 2007. He is the first graduate of Foothill College to serve on the district’s Board of Trustees.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Kanter and the Department of Education to accomplish the President’s ambitious goals for K-12, higher education, workforce training and adult education in America under the leadership of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,” Plotkin said. “I am also deeply humbled to have had the opportunity to serve our community as an elected trustee for the past six years. In that capacity, I have met some of the finest, most dedicated educators and public servants in the community college movement right here in our district. I leave with great confidence that, despite these difficult fiscal times, our community will continue to be well served by Foothill-De Anza’s outstanding faculty, staff and board. It was my honor to be in their company.”
Board President Betsy Bechtel noted Plotkin’s many contributions and the unique perspective that shaped his work on the board.
“Hal brought passion and energy in his role as a trustee at Foothill-De Anza,’’ Bechtel said. “As a former student at Foothill College, he understood what many students experience as they struggle to finance their education. We will miss Hal and wish him well in his new role.”
One of Plotkin’s mentors, former state senator John Vasconcellos, commented on the opportunity Plotkin will have to help advance the new administration’s educational agenda.
“I’ve watched Hal Plotkin since his teenage years develop into a person who really knows higher education with care, depth, deep passion and integrity,” said Vasconcellos, who represented Silicon Valley in the California Legislature for three decades. “I know Hal will make a major contribution to meeting the higher education goals of President Obama.” Vasconcellos is a longtime supporter of community colleges and the district.
Kanter said she looks forward to working with Plotkin in Washington. “Hal’s knowledge as a trustee, journalist and policy-maker will be invaluable as we work to accomplish the exciting education agenda for the nation that President Obama and Secretary Duncan have put before us,” Kanter said.
During his six years as a trustee, Plotkin served as board president, chaired the board’s audit and finance committee three times, and co-chaired the Committee to Pass Measure C, the district’s successful 2006 bond measure.
Plotkin also sponsored the board’s innovative policy on public domain learning materials. The policy facilitates the production, use and sharing of free, high-quality printable online learning materials as substitutes for costly commercial textbooks, and is the first of its kind in the nation. Since its adoption, Plotkin has spoken to many educational groups about the benefits and challenges of using these open educational resources.
The Board of Trustees will determine the process for filling the vacancy created by Plotkin’s resignation at its July 6 meeting. His term expires in 2011.