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Art and Humanities Professor reflects on his accomplishments

Ken Alexander retires with his family life in mind
Chair of the Arts and Humanities department Ken Alexander

“They are going to need to understand the culture of the department. I always used to say, ‘Nobody gets pulled out of the ocean without the water smoothing out. There is no hole left for you,’” said the Arts, Humanities and Philosophy Department Chair Ken Alexander on advice for the future chair when he retires after the 2023-24 academic year.

From woodworking and cycling to teaching students art history, Alexander has decided to end his teaching career after working at LMC for 44 years.

He began at Diablo Valley College where he earned his Associate of Arts degree in 1973 and transferred to Sacramento State University. While at Sac State, he earned his bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1975 and returned afterward to receive his master’s degree in art history in 1995. 

Four years after graduating, he took a job at LMC to design posters for plays, brochures and flyers.

From 1984 to 1986, Alexander was hired at the City College of San Francisco to begin his teaching career instructing students on graphic design.

“Somebody had the bright idea to suggest why we let him go over [to CCSF] when we could be offering his classes over [at LMC] because I was mostly teaching graphic design,” said Alexander. “That is what I brought with me. We started with two classes then we expanded that to six classes.”

When he returned to become a full-time professor in 1987, the college named Alexander the Chair of the Arts Department. Later, he went to teach humanities courses in Italy and when he returned, humanities classes were implemented into the college.

“Originally, they were going to be made into two departments, in which I was going to be the head of both. But somebody forgot to do the paperwork so [Arts and Humanities] just got jammed together in one,” said Alexander. “About a year and a half ago, we added philosophy to it, so we keep growing.”

When Alexander started teaching full-time, there were 11 art classes, with one full-time professor who left the school due to low enrollments in the department. 

“The one that was here had destroyed the program. So, when I started, I was looking at five years of start-up. I knew I was going to work hard to get the program back up. I made a five-year plan after that and we kept on going,” said Alexander.

Throughout his career, he’s had many memorable moments teaching and engaging with his peers. He’s grateful to his colleagues for making his life better from their conversations and respect.

“We’re all working toward a common goal, and we all have mutual respect for one another,” said Alexander. “The students see the comradery because if I walk through Eric Sanchez’s class, I’ll make some comments and he will invite me to look at this and that and vice versa. So, we do work very closely and well.”

After retirement, he looks forward to quality time with his family and other activities as well. 

“I am going to Burning Man next year. I have not been there, but my daughter goes with her family. I could never go before because it would start at the beginning of the semester,” said Alexander. “People use it as an excuse to do some really interesting art and they also use it as an excuse to be idiots, so I’ll fit right in.”

He has two daughters, two stepchildren and five grandchildren. He also has a wife that he adores more than anything. This is the biggest thing for him that influenced him to retire now.

Alexander, looking back on his career, has “no regrets” about what he’s accomplished while at LMC and looks forward to retirement. He is excited to pick up the paintbrush more and create more than “one or two paintings a year.” 

He also loves to do long hikes throughout the world as he mentioned that his longest hike was “200 miles” which took him roughly three weeks. The longest hike he has done in a day was 23 miles.

“For example, if I go to the UK, I will go to London for a little bit in the beginning and a little bit in the end. I would visit some cities along the way until I get to where I’m going to walk from and to,” said Alexander.

He admired working at LMC, but “It’s not all about serving the college.” He is now heading into retirement content with everything he has accomplished and  with the replacement being selected by May 2024.

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Mohammad Najimi
Mohammad Najimi, Staff Writer

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