Saying goodbye to Livingston

A number of sacrifices have been made in the past few years at Los Medanos College. From the irony of fewer classes scheduled despite on-going construction, to increase campus instructional space and longtime leaders who have gone elsewhere. The latest of these is Richard Livingston, who last week was tapped to serve as senior dean of instruction at the district level.
In leaving, Livingston took with him 38 years of service during which he worked with students first as a professor and then as a dean at various levels. When Peter Garcia was tapped to fill in as an interim president at DVC, it was Livingston who took on the job of being interim president here at LMC. When it was decided Garcia would keep his position at DVC, it was Livingston who stayed on as interim president while LMC sought to fill the permanent vacancy left by Garcia.
The college has gained Bob Kratochvil as its new president and Kevin Horan as a new vice president, both of whom can build on the work of their predecessors and help guide LMC in new directions. However, as Edmund Burke once said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
( Livingston provided a source of continuity for LMC and had the experience of all that LMC has achieved and is seeking to achieve.
It is undoubtedly true that because of his experience Livingston will be able to help the district a great deal in his new position and that Contra Costa Community College District. Chancellor Helen Benjamin made a wise decision in choosing Livingston to fill this post.
However, it is a loss for LMC’s students because we are losing a unique dean who remained an educator. Livingston is a dean who took time out of his day to give directions to students who were trying to find their way around campus. He is a dean who could give students who came to him with problems the benefit of the experience he gained, while teaching at LMC, which allowed him to tell students where their professors were coming from — but who also always kept students interests in mind.
For the journalism program at LMC, Livingston moving over to the district is a unique loss because he founded the journalism program at the college and served as a mentor not only to the current adviser Cindy McGrath, but also to the LMC student journalists who went to him as a source for the stories they were working on. Interviewing Livingston provided a supportive challenge for student journalists: they had to work for answers but Livingston always responded in a way that was knowledgeable and clear. He made time for the student journalists not only in initial interviews, but as follow up questions were developed.
For the professors and staff at LMC his absence will represent a loss of support. Although someone of quality can surely be found either from within or without, it will be akin to what Thomas Jefferson faced when he went to France to fill the role that had been occupied by Benjamin Franklin.
When asked if Jefferson was replacing Franklin he replied: “No one can replace him, sir. I am only his successor.” ( it may seem as an overstatement to say this of Livingston, yet he truly is a founding member of the LMC community and no one else can offer what he did to LMC.