Written by The Business Journal Staff
Xavier E. Romano
Alliant International University, Fresno Campus
What we do: At the Fresno campus, Master’s and Doctoral Studies in clinical psychology, forensic psychology & organizational behavior
Education: B.S., University of Oregon; M.A., Santa Clara University. Other: Fulbright Award — Germany; Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Age: 50+ but just barely!
Family: Wife Vicky Romano, administrator at Knox College (IL) & Daughter Alejandra, junior at University of South Dakota. (We are all commuting…thank goodness for Fresno-Yosemite Intl Airport!)
How did you come to your position as director of Alliant in Fresno, Xavier?
Via national search for director of the Fresno campus.
What goals have you set for the Fresno Alliant campus since being hired on in March, Xavier?
Reconnect the Fresno campus with the community of Fresno and Central California, work with community leadership in regards to Alliant-Fresno’s role in post-secondary and graduate education in Central California and with colleagues in a university-wide restructuring effort to contain costs while maximizing services to students.
What is the local demand like for jobs in clinical psychology and forensic studies emphasized by Alliant, Xavier?
Ours is a course of study that prepares our graduates for global engagement in terms of practice. As related to Central California, one of the few things we know as “fact” is that the complexity of mental health challenges given our continuously evolving demographic will only continue to increase. This, in turn, makes the Alliant alumni more relevant as we continue to evolve demographically as a region, society and community. Mental health is an emerging health sciences field in many parts of the world so the market will be expanding.
Why do you suppose there so many more females attending Alliant than males, Xavier?
I suspect that in the next decade we will start to see a change in the ratio of women to men. I believe that this has much to do with being perceived as “helping” or “support” area not unlike for example, nursing.
What is your impression of the Fresno area since moving here from Knox College in Illinois last year, Xavier?
I am loving Fresno and say that knowing full well of Fresno’s reputation in California. Rather than head to the various “beach cities,” since arriving in April, I have been “importing” my colleagues and friends from the Bay Area and Southern California. And to date every single individual has been pleasantly surprised at how much is going on in Fresno and all acknowledged that they had succumbed to the “rumor mill” as related to Fresno. As I said to a friend from San Francisco, “there are no steers nor bulls running around the Fulton Mall!”
What Fresno is in dire need of is self-confidence. I am reminding all who will listen that were we located in any other state, that Fresno would likely be the number one or number two urban area, saying nothing of the amazing cultural scene here. And while warm, it is still not as hot as the Middle East.
What was your experience like as vice president of student services at Holy Names College in Oakland, Xavier?
So long ago! I was in charge of everything from admissions to the new (at that time) intercollegiate athletic program and then areas such as residential life, counseling services and career services to name a few. My work at Knox was similar but within the context of a residential liberal arts college sans enrollment and athletics but a much larger co-curricular-life portfolio. I was at Knox for 12 years and Holy Names for 5.
Last year, you stayed in Saudi Arabia as a consultant in post-secondary education. How is the educational environment different there than in the U.S., Xavier?
Worlds apart and clearly delineated by gender as men and women do not mix in their educational environments. Strong institutions with a heavy emphasis on hard and physical sciences but their social sciences leave much to be desired and suffice to say that The Kingdom is not an “open environment” in regards to discourse, freedom of speech and operates from a highly conservative form of Islam.
What do you feel is lacking in a lot of higher education institutions these days, especially private colleges, Xavier?
I think we would do well as independent institutions to be more transparent in our costs, structures and outcomes. There is a lot of “smoke and mirrors” out there as related to financial aid, for example, and the reality is that the cost of attending an independent/private institution can at times be the same or less than the public sector such as the University of California or California State University campuses. We need to be better at articulating what sets us apart and similarly articulate the investment for dollar to students.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Xavier?
I started out in college admissions and learned over time that as important recruitment to any college or university it, it is the “retention” that impacts the bottom line in concert with admission and ultimately student satisfaction. And at the end of the academic program students have to be content with their academic program and their investment.
What do you do in your spare time, Xavier?
I can be found at local bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and learning more about archaeology and of course keeping my tropical fish happy.