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Minden retiree goes back to school

by Merrie Leininger

A new Minden resident will be returning to the Bay area to take a position as a interim president at a community college.

Robert Verzello and his wife, Judy, moved to Carson Valley last fall after he retired as assistant chancellor for the San Mateo County Community College District, which is made up of three college campuses.

He officially retired from his position last August, but continued to work until the end of October, he said. Judy, who already retired from her job as an information systems manager for a law firm, had moved to their Minden home in September.

She will now be alone again for the most part of the next year as Robert rents a home in San Mateo and flies home on the weekends.

“She had been retired for a while and was looking forward my retirement so we could get out and do things together,” he said. “But as soon as this came along, she said right away, ‘You should do it. It’s an honor for you.'”

However, Robert said he will miss the Valley.

His parents bought a cabin in the 1950s at South Lake Tahoe so he has known the area since then.

“We decided to live where we play,” Verzello said of their decision to move here. “We were just beginning to make friends. I was getting involved in the Elks and we were volunteering at the Food Closet and going to St. Gall’s. I feel like I am leaving them in the lurch.”

Throughout the next year, though, Verzello said he hopes to keep those connections alive by flying home for special events and weekends.

During the week, he sure will be busy.

It was imperative Verzello return to the district in which he had a been assistant chancellor and dean because the district had lost all three of its college presidents in the last six weeks, he said.

In addition, the chancellor has only been in the district for two years while the associate chancellor has been in the district for two months.

Vercello said the change comes at a time when the voters will be deciding the fate of a $40 million bond issue that will pay for facilities improvements.

One of Vercello’s jobs will be to organize publicity for the passage of the bond and answer questions about it.

“I had a long history in the district and I am kind of an expert in facilities needs and had been working on the bond measure for a while, so they asked me to come back,” he said.

He will also be the head of all financial aspects and academics at the College of San Mateo. He will also oversee the campus television and radio stations.

If the bond issue doesn’t pass, Vercello said, he will still have to figure out how to provide a long-term, stable budget for the college, while continuing to improve the school’s academics.

“It’s always a struggle for funding in community colleges, but we need to partner more with our sister schools so their students can benefit more from our occupational programs. We always want to be doing more. You can’t stay the same when things are always changing,” Verzello said.

Verzello came to the district after managing D.E. Burgess Co., his parents’ industrial sandblasting and painting company.

He went into education in 1971 and earned his doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco in 1991.

The Verzellos have three grown sons, Chris, of San Francisco, Bob Jr., of Tampa, Fla., and David, of Atlanta.