Former president, chancellor dies at 86

John “Jack” Carhart, 86, of Walnut Creek passed away Friday, Nov. 4. He was the first president of Los Medanos College from 1970 until 1984 and the fourth Contra Costa district chancellor from 1984 until 1991.
Although born in New York, his mother, a lifetime resident of Martinez, decided to raise him in her hometown. Carhart was a skilled high school football player at Alhambra High School and attended the University of Southern California with a full-ride scholarship until a series of injuries caused him to quit the football team. He then attended San Jose State University to focus on his studies, eventually graduating in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree. While at San Jose, he met his wife Barbara and together they had three children.
In 1970, three and one-half years before the opening of LMC’s campus, Carhart was appointed to head up the construction and education plan for the third Contra Costa community college. Through the process and responsibility of opening a new community college, he developed an enthusiastic sense of what general education should mean to students. He was the first crucial figure in developing the best practices for delivering general education to a diverse population of students in Pittsburg.
In a Nov. 9, 1984 article in the Experience, Carhart reacted to his promotion from LMC president to district chancellor.
“I’ve found that at this campus I have really achieved most of my major goals that I set out to achieve. There are things left to be done; at this point, when there is an opportunity available…I’m really excited about it. I’m very sentimental about leaving, but I think it’s the right place at the right time. This campus has had more impact on my life than anything else,” he said.LMC professors Estelle Davies and Alex Sample knew Carhart since the beginning of LMC’s conception.
“We worked very closely with Jack Carhart as founding members of Los Medanos College.  He was an inspirational leader that provided a framework and vision for the academic model that Los Medanos College is known for today.  We will fondly remember Jack Carhart as a dedicated and supportive leader of Los Medanos College and the Contra Costa Community College District,” they said in a joint statement.
“Mr. Carhart was strongly committed to the District and to LMC as its founding president.  He was intimately involved in the formation of the college and responsible for hiring all of the original employees.  We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his numerous contributions,” said current chancellor Helen Benjamin.
You may attend a tribute to Carhart by the college district board at their 6:00 p.m. meeting on Dec. 14 at the District Office Board Room at the George R. Gordon Education Center, located at 500 Court Street, Martinez.