Story by Danny Rivera/Viking/News editor/@dannyriveralbcc
Throughout her career at the helm of other colleges in Chicago, Houston and Qatar, Reagan F. Romali looked to the teachers, students and administration at LBCC for ideas and best practices to improve the learning experience for her students and employees.
Now, after receiving the offer to become LBCC’s 10th president, she “couldn’t be happier” to lead a college she has admired from afar.
“I cannot even express in words how thrilled I am,” Romali said Thursday, April 6, in a phone interview from her office at Harry S Truman College in Chicago. “My home is Southern California and I’ve always looked to LBCC and its tradition of academic excellence and excellence in student services.”
“I always dreamed that one day, I could lead (LBCC) and dreams come true. You have to dare to dream.”
Romali said she has no formal plans to make significant changes upon her arrival. It has been her long-standing practice to observe and listen before making any significant policy decisions.
“I don’t necessarily come in with any change agenda,” she said of her past experiences. “I come in and I get to know (and) talk to everybody, the unions, the community, the senates and the Board members.”
Romali said she believes this is the best course for any plans under her watch, because “those best ideas come from the people at LBCC and the community and I’m going to be gleaning these best ideas from them with very big ears and a very open heart.”
One aspect of student life Romali has focused on over the years is in improving educational experiences for students with special needs. Some of her initiatives involved having college administrators at Truman College navigate the campus in wheelchairs.
“In doing that, we found a lot of little simple things that just held these students back,” Romali said. Changes to campus layout and accessibility for every student came after these meetings.
Much of Romali’s focus comes from her recent adoption of her son, who also has special needs. But it is also what she has learned through her life experiences in different parts of the world where she believes she can contribute most to life at LBCC.
“One of the things I’ve learned when I was overseas is that people all around the world are pretty much the same,” Romali said. “We might come at life with different ideas, but we all want to be treated with dignity and respect.”
It’s the principles of dignity and respect that Romali believes drive her forward in both her professional and personal endeavors.
“Either everybody matters or nobody matters,” she said.