Celebration for dean’s 39 years of service

Celebration+for+dean%E2%80%99s+39+years+of+service

Irvin Trigueros

Richard Livingston and wife Sherri laugh at the remarks made by Jack Carhart, the first president of LMC. Carhart hired Livingston back in 1974.

Brendan Cross

Senior Dean of Instruction Richard Livingston was honored last Sunday for 39 years of amazing service to Los Medanos College and the Contra Costa Community College District at the Lone Tree Golf and Event Center in Antioch.

Two portraits of Livingston, created by art instructor Curtis Corlew, graced the entry and banquet hall in the style of the Barack Obama “Hope” posters. One read “Change,” the other “LMC loves R.L.” Guests could also grab a pen and post-it note and respond to three questions on posters inside the event center designed to look like mock chalkboards: “What at LMC reminds you of Richard?” “What is your favorite memory of Richard?” and “When and where did you meet Richard?”

Speech and Debate instructor Kasey Gardner and Honors Director Jennifer Saito emceed the event while the Bryan Simmons Trio, featuring LMC student musicians, played music.

Before the actual program began, a buffet lunch was served while guests looked at a newspaper style pamphlet on each table. The pamphlet, featuring a knock-off of the 1970s student newspaper mast, had quotes about Livingston from some of his students and colleagues throughout the years, as well as a timeline of his 39-year journey at LMC and the district office. The back featured a reprint of an LMC Experience editorial written by journalism student Charles Powell last fall about Livingston leaving the school and the everlasting mark he left on it.

The afternoon was full of speakers who shared stories and memories of Livingston. Kate Boisvert, a founding “mother” of LMC, was not a speaker but said Livingston was completely honest, had high standards for his students and colleagues, and had an “unflinching sense of ethics.”

The first speaker was Jack Carhart, the inaugural president and founder of LMC who actually hired Livingston. He said he was proud to be a part of the college and has allowed him to reach his 80s.

He explained that in the hiring process they “gambled with hiring young and aggressive people” and Livingston fit the bill perfectly. He added that Livingston had turned the student newspaper, the LMC Experience, into a Top 10 junior college paper within the first three years of its inception and said, “I am so proud about LMC, it just made my life.”

The first tribute of the afternoon came in the form of an “epic” karaoke performance by astronomy teacher Scott Cabral who did a cover of “You Shook Me All Night Long” switching the lyrics around a bit to “You Deaned Us All Night Long.”

Former LMC president and current Diablo Valley College President Peter Garcia also attended the event and spoke highly of Livingston.

“One of the characteristics I have loved about LMC over the years is that there is a fearlessness about it, and any of you who have sat in a meeting with Richard for any period of time that have not wanted to hear the truth know that it will not happen,” said Garcia, who went on to describe the sense of “fearlessness about Richard, regardless of the topic or day or atmosphere. He lives his discipline, which is journalism. Regularly what Richard does is he tells the truth and writes it with an eloquence and commitment to the college, which is unparalleled.”

Current LMC President Bob Kratochvil followed Garcia at the podium and talked about important events of 1974, which was Livingston’s first at the college. Kratochvil added, “It is because of his participation and leadership that LMC is what it is today.”

A few more “epic” tributes followed as Kasey Gardner recited a lyric he wrote entitled “The Richard” adapted from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, and Jennifer Saito performed for Livingston what she called a “love-letter” song, “To Sir, With Love,” with the help of two honors students on backup vocals and guitar.

Afterward, Mason and Morgan Livingston, who both attended LMC as students, shared some thoughts about their father.

“All the qualities that have made you good at your job are the same qualities that have made you a good dad. If I can accomplish half of what you have done, then I can call that a successful life,” Mason said.

As Morgan stood, she said she felt “so very proud to be able to come from this strong legacy of the community college tradition and I hope to continue it throughout my years.”

Sherri Livingston, his wife and a former LMC student, noted that “as good of a teacher Richard was, he is a much better human being, husband and father.”

As the afternoon carried on, more memories and gifts were shared. Philosophy instructor Daniel Ramirez recited a few poems while history instructor Don Kaiper read an excerpt from a book about the Contra Costa Community College District in which Livingston wrote a few chapters.

LMC Athletic Director Richard Villegas presented Livingston with a Mustang hoodie and shirt as well as an LMC playoff baseball hat. Scott Cabral then took his encore and presented Livingston with a gift from the entire physical science department.

The best gift of all, however, was presented by Eileen Valenzuela from LMC’s Office of Instruction and journalism instructor Cindy McGrath. The Richard Livingston Scholarship, created in his honor and contributed to by current and former employees and students from LMC and the district, was presented. The scholarship had already raised nearly $4,500 at the time of the event.

McGrath, holding back tears, simply stated, “Thank you for changing my life,” to Livingston.

A trio of surprise guests were one of the day’s highlights: Tracy Nelson, Ana Sandoval and Anthony Sorci were news staff members from the early days of the LMC Experience.

“LMC changed the course of my life. Livingston is a wonderful human being and probably the most wonderful teacher I’ve ever had,” Nelson said.

Sandoval said that she met her husband, Anthony Sorci, in Livingston’s class and that they had been married 29 years. Sorci added, “I found my profession and found my wife, so it was one hell of a class. Richard was fair, inspiring, and a great man.”

The afternoon ended appropriately as the man of the hour stood up to say a few words of thanks and claimed he could not have gotten to where he did without the help of his peers.

“Los Medanos has meant everything to me,” he said. “I have not accomplished a damn thing by myself.”