Video: Dr. Gaby Hawat

Video Transcript:

[Moderator]:  All right. 

Let's go ahead and get started and we'll get this rolling here. 

Good afternoon and welcome to the second of four El Centro presidential candidate community forums. 

My name is Rick Walker. 

I'm director of the LeCroy Center, director of STARLINK at the LeCroy Center. 

I'll be serving as your moderator for today's community forum. 

And I want to thank everyone for joining us in this very important opportunity to interact with the highly qualified candidates for the role of president of our El Centro campus here at Dallas College. 

We're excited to learn more about them. 

Now in normal times, we would have gladly hosted each candidate on campus so everyone could interact with them face to face; however, as we all know, these are not normal times and we must exercise caution and safety during the pandemic. 

So I want to thank our candidates, our panelists, and our virtual attendees again for your flexibility as well as your attendance. 

During today's virtual community forum, we will direct a combination of live questions from our virtual audience and prepared questions from our panel of community representatives to our candidate, Dr. Gaby Hawat. 

Our community panelists currently are Kourtny Garrett, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. and Rick Ortiz, President and CEO of Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

It's -- possibly, we may be joined by a couple of others, but we will go ahead and start. 

And before Dr. Hawat shares his opening statement, let me provide you with a brief recap of his background. 

Dr. Gaby Hawat is currently the Executive Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer at the University of Providence. 

Dr. Hawat has more than 35 years of experience, most notably in the fields of education and science. 

In addition, he is a principal at Catalyst Partners and serves as Chairman of the National Visiting Committee for the National Cyberwatch Center, which is charged with supporting national cybersecurity education and workforce development solutions. 

Previously, Dr. Hawat was Senior Vice President for Operations and Global Initiatives at Florida Institute of Technology, and spent nearly three decades in progressively responsible positions at Valencia College in Orlando. 

As a special assistant to the President and Senior Executive for Strategic Initiatives and Economic Development, he was responsible for developing new markets, strategic enterprises, and partnerships. 

He has extensive experience working with federal, state, and local elected officials and agencies, high tech industries, and universities and colleges, nationally and globally. 

It is an honor to introduce to you Dr. Gaby Hawat. 

Dr. Hawat, do you have an opening statement for us? 

And welcome. 

[Candidate]:  Thank you. 

I mean, if I keep hearing this introduction one more time, it's going to go to my head maybe in the end. [laughing]

No, it's -- it's -- thank you so much for inviting me for being here. 

I appreciate this opportunity and look forward to this next hour so we can get to know each other. 

I guess you get to know me a little bit better, at least. 

It's an honor to be here. 

[Moderator]:  Well, we certainly are honored to have you here. 

Let's go to our panel and I believe our first question then will come from Kourtny Garrett. 

Go ahead, Kourtny. 

[Panelist]:  Well, thanks so much. 

And wonderful to see you again and wonderful to be here with everyone this evening. 

I'll start with a question really about community engagement because this role has so much interface expected of it with the community to be the -- sort of the -- the face of the campus and really carry that vision forward. 

I'd love to hear some specific examples of the way that you approach community engagement and, particularly, when you're in a community with very diverse constituencies like you would at a downtown campus. 

[Cadidate]:  Yes.  Thank you. 

And by the way, thank you all for staying so late to see me today. 

It's after 5 o'clock in Dallas. 

Thank you for the question, Kourtny. 

In my positions previously, including this one actually, I quickly have built a strong relationship with community members, prominent community members -- even here in Great Falls -- in addition to when I came back from Central Florida. 

To the point that -- that, at some point in one of the municipalities in Florida, one of the mayors gave me an office next to -- in his suite, to be able to participate as needed for meetings for economic development and growth of partnership. 

I believe -- and this is something I hear from previous supervisor and President of Valencia -- we will partner until it hurts. 

So -- and the way I took it, because he used to tell me that when he first pulled me -- plucked me out of the economic role to be -- to work on -- on this, you know, really when it hurts that means it is no longer a partnership. 

That means somebody -- it's a one-sided partnership. 

It's not really working well. 

The partnership needs to truly be that -- that both sides have to benefit somehow. 

And I don't think the benefit has to be always monetarily. 

It could be meeting a goal of -- of being a community server, meeting a goal of accomplishing certain strategic plan that you have. 

So either way -- could be -- so as long as it is -- it is based on mutual respect and mutual trust. 

And, really, what I found in my experience -- and you've probably experienced this now -- is it's all really about the people at the end. 

What kind of -- what kind -- I know, I used to always say this, especially when fundraising, I say people do not trust organizations. 

They trust people in a -- a lot of ways. 

So if you build rapport and trust and confidence in -- in leadership, then you're more comfortable to partner with them. 

So I always use the approach of getting to know people at the personal level, you know, giving them the time needed. 

Build the relationships first then look into what possible partnerships can happen afterwards. 

Because to come in and say, you know -- to you or a donor -- I need X amount of dollars, blah, blah, well, they get asked that all the time. 

So what makes us different? 

So, in my opinion, going with -- and, of course, I came from Valencia which is a very diverse environment. 

Valencia has about 75% even diversification -- diverse population in terms of student as well. 

So the Central Florida area is much more diverse than, say, Montana, of course. 

So I was able to establish very strong relationship and build trust with different and diverse groups in different roles of the community. 

And one thing I was thinking about, actually -- I don't know if I mentioned that to you at the first meeting -- is I have built a good list of people who are willing to speak about the work and my character and that goes very diverse population, very diverse roles from politicians to CEOs to chiefs-of-staff to mayors to faculty, etc. 

So at some point, I'm offering this. 

Anybody is welcome to reach out to [inaudible]. 

I like to talk to somebody who, let's say, he used to be in economic development. 

This is what you are. 

Or the Chamber President. 

I have all that. 

And you're welcome, you know -- I'd be glad to provide all this. 

So -- and I think, when we have a very diverse community, we really have to work on the partnership because the cookie cutter -- cookie cutter doesn't work for all. 

So what may work -- and I'm just guessing here -- in East Dallas may not work best for South Dallas. 

So we have to look at -- at the constituents of each area and, you know, and the college being right in the middle of downtown, I guess, it plays a big role in the, you know, rejuvenation of downtown, which is happening across the country actually. 

As you know, many cities are doing the same thing, even Orlando, to the point that, you know, Valencia built a campus in downtown now as well. 

So I think, you know, engaging the -- specifically the diverse population is to make sure that you understand their needs. 

Not everyone, you know -- this is where big terms "equity" comes in, I guess. 

You know?  You know? 

Not everyone is looking for the same kind of partnership. 

They are unique in nature, the populations, to the constituents, in the region, to the area, to the kind of businesses you have in those regions. 

[Moderator]:  Excellent. 

Thank you so much. 

Great question, Kourtny. 

And let me just throw this out. 

If you are watching and have a question for Dr. Hawat, please submit your question to the chat room and we'll get to your question. 

So if you have a question, pop in the chat room and get it out there and we'll make sure we address it. 

We're honored to also have Rick Ortiz with us. 

Rick, you're -- you're up next. 

[Panelist]:  Thank you, Rick. 

And Dr. Hawat, good to see you again. 

[Candidate]:  Same here. 

[Moderator]:  So I'm going to ask you a question -- sort of picking up on where you left off right now in your last answer from Kourtny's question. 

Dallas County, as -- as we were -- as you were just talking -- is -- it's a mixed -- it's a mix of communities that are challenged by rapid population growth across the area, poverty, low educational attainment, and growing workforce needs contrasted with affluent expanding cities. 

Now please tell us, you know, what you know about the challenges in Dallas County and what role do you think Dallas College can play to assist these communities in growing their individual and collective economies, beyond just providing your traditional training programs? 

[Candidate]:  Right. 

Of course, what I know about Dallas is what I read online. 

Even though I've visited -- when you visit on a business trip, you're really kind of isolated a lot from -- from the challenges that you've mentioned. 

But I read a lot of report online. 

I read that it is because of what you mentioned, there is little bit increase in crime, sometimes more than other places. 

And that's information on the public domain. 

So if I have to -- somebody asked me, he said what is the magic bullet for all this? 

I am a firm believer that education is the magic bullet because if you address education, then you'll address the low education rate, you'll address economic development growth, you'll address the poverty because somebody that has significant education or something they can work with, whether it's a certificate or a degree, whatever, or training, then you're increasing their -- their livelihood and their [inaudible] family. 

Also, I think what is important about education is that we will provide a sense for the -- for the students that they're investing in themselves. 

And when you provide a sense for someone that is invested in themselves and we're investing in them, then I think they are less likely to get in trouble, to -- to create trouble, and to go places that we don't want them to go. 

So that purpose, I think, is a huge driver for increasing economy development, property, crime, etc., etc. 

Now in terms of how do we address all that, I think -- again, I go back to -- to what I mentioned earlier that each area might be of a different need. 

Each section of Dallas may have a different industry and each population within Dallas may need to have little more targeted marketing to reach to than just a blanket approach altogether. 

So at -- you know, in Orlando, for example, you're the head of the Hispanic Chamber, whom I've worked with in Orlando as well. 

Rick Hernandez, I think, the name was at the time, the president. 

And we engaged one of the best Hispanic-only company to market to Hispanics. 

And we noticed a big change in the enrollment that instead of taking -- translating brochures from English to Spanish, we put them online or send them. 

Because the -- the -- the Spanish culture -- the parents sometimes plays a much bigger role in education of a child than maybe some other cultures. 

So, they helped us develop material to do that.  

So if I was to reach out to an area in -- in Dallas, let's say, that has -- has much higher Hispanic population, then I would want to have some experts -- expertise, whether we have it inside now or you don't have it -- I don't know -- because Dallas is an HSI, Hispanic Serving Institution, and -- and part of Achieving the Dream which, you know, Valencia was part of both, actually, too. 

And -- and so that would be the approach I will take. 

It -- it is not -- it is not a cookie -- cookie cutter. 

This is what we have to offer, but can we do it differently? 

Can we do it in a way that will encourage certain specific -- all the diverse population to -- to join in? 

And I hope that addresses your -- your question. 

[Moderator]:  Thank you.  Kourtny? 

[Panelist]:  So I want to pick up on the economic development conversation. 

We've had some really robust comments on economic development. 

But, more specifically, talking about the business community -- 

[Candidate]:  Mm-hmm. 

[Paneilist]:  -- and I'm -- I'm curious as to some examples of business community collaboration -- 

[Candidate]:  Sure. 

[Panelist]:  -- in your experience. 

And I would layer onto that both collaboration and leveraging the power of the business community for the greater good. 

You're smiling -- 

[Candidate]:  Yes. 

[Panelist]:  -- so I think you know where I'm going with this question. 

[Candidate]:   Of course. 

[Panelist]:  Because we -- we do have a very robust business community here in Dallas and I think sometimes there's a disconnect as to how that business community is truly giving back, whether it's through student population or the -- the greater community. 

[Candidate]:  Yeah. I can give you a lot of example. 

This is one of the -- actually, I think you can see probably on my resume the list of -- the broad list of companies that I've done some kind of deals with or cooperate with. 

Let me start first with couple of -- with economic development specifically, on that one. 

I represented the college and, in some cases, represented the state as the education representative to encourage business partnerships outside of Central Florida to come to Central Florida. 

And forgive me if you heard this before but, you know, if you Google Gaby Hawat and Verizon, probably you'll find me among, you know, mayors and commissioners shoveling -- you know, shoveling sand, you know, for -- for Verizon move to -- to Central Florida. 

Jet Blue is another one. 

Let's talk about Northrop Grumman which is, of course, a well-known defense contractor and Orlando is known for that. 

One of -- in my early days, I was a faculty member teaching electronics. 

Forgive me, I've been sick for a few days. 

I need to this every few minutes. 

And -- and one of the -- one of my grad students had become a manager of recruitment. 

So he reach out to me one day and he said it's costing us about $25,000 to bring someone from another state, train them, bring them to Orlando. 

Then we find out later that they don't like it for some reason. 

They miss their family, they move away. 

So we're going through this process. 

So I sat down -- I remember, on a napkin -- so a lot of my business things have been done on napkins, by the way. 

I'll give you another one in a short term here. 

We were having, you know, a cup of coffee. 

And I said $25,000. 

I quickly made calculation. 

That's -- that's enough to put five students through a program, three years degree at Valencia at the time. 

I said you made this -- you make this donation to our foundation every year, 25,000, and within two plus years I'll give you five graduates minimum, at least. 

So they did and we started new program in -- in fiber optics and lasers where we actually started offering classes for them on-site at their -- at their -- with their engineers teaching the classes so they have first-hand experience. 

The company would give them part of their time that they class on the clock, a part off the clock, and then soon the Florida had [inaudible] which is a very well-known entity in Central Florida which I was a member of and, you know, they -- they joined -- they liked the idea. 

Can we duplicate this? 

And soon K through 12 -- the high school that is close to their plant want in on the action. 

So we moved from just having a relationship with Northrop Grumman into starting classes at the high school, leaving the high school when they finish high school, get to the plant. 

They [inaudible] partnership in co-op -- training, let's say, or internship, and they hire them. 

They become employees. 

They continue their degree and they come to the college -- Valencia -- to take other courses they do not offer on-site like general education, etc. 

Then the university got a hold of this -- University of Central Florida -- and said, okay, can we have a pathway? 

So those two degrees now go to the University of Central Florida -- at the time, bachelor's degree in technology. 

But since then, Valencia became a four-year degree and now we developed a four-year degree ourselves on campus as soon as [inaudible] only. 

That's one. 

Two, we've done all the electrical and power training for Disney and -- and cybersecurity at Cisco. 

Disney is like a kingdom. 

Really, it is a kingdom. 

I know they call it Magic Kingdom, but it is really a kingdom. 

They have their own power plants, their own fire facilities, their own training facility. 

So we've done all that -- that and Universal also in the high-tech area. 

Another one was AT&T which became Lucent then [inaudible] afterwards. 

The only chip manufacturing plant in the State of Florida. 

And they were having difficulty moving employees from operator into technician, which is a higher -- higher level, higher pay, more knowledge. 

And they had a, I think, like a 12 or 15% passing grade at the time. 

So we partnered with them. 

We developed programs specifically for them in manufacturing, semi-conductor manufacturing. 

And I remember we came to Austin. 

Actually, we got their opinion, Austin Community College. 

And start offering the classes on-site and that number doubled and tripled in the beginning of the program, increased to the point that I wrote the first [inaudible] that Valencia received was a grant in microelectronics manufacturing which I was the PI for with a few county schools, a couple of universities, University of Florida, University of South Florida, a few community college, and the CEO of [inaudible] at the time give me letter pledging $1 million to put me to NSF. 

And we were asking for $900,000 from NSF after spending a day there -- that was in 1999 or 2000 -- I returned with $1.1 million. 

Now being someone that has worked with NSF for over 20 years now, it never happens they give you more than you asked for. 

It's usually they give you less than what you asked for. 

So this is just couple of examples. 

Another one is TSA. 

You know, the federal security officer in Central Florida and I, over napkin, developed the first TSA training program. 

And -- and -- and then, after we trained all these employees into certificate, then degrees, now the program is being replicated nationally for TSA. So this is just few -- I can go on and on, but I don't want to take the whole time. 

So at least to give you some of -- I know Rick would tell me enough is enough. 

So I'm going to stop here. 

[Moderator}]:  No, this is fascinating. 

I'm enjoying hearing all these great success stories and let me just throw this out. 

If you have a question for Dr. Hawat, please throw it into the chat room and I believe it's Rick Ortiz, Rick's turn. 

[Panelist]:  Thank you again, Rick. 

Dr. Hawat, one of the things that we do at the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is we do a lot of work with small businesses from the underserved communities that we serve and represent. 

And a -- a big part of that work involves capacity building programs, helping these companies -- these little -- these smaller businesses, really helping them grow, helping them scale, and understanding that that -- that that growth will create more jobs. 

What -- what -- what are your thoughts on entrepreneurship as part of your plan and -- and for a successful stint at El Centro if you were to take that job?

[Candidate]:  Yeah. 

There's two things that are very important to me that I think students should have or develop before they leave us, in my opinion. 

Whether it's a training, working with business industry, or our own regular student. 

That is intellectual curiosity and, two, entrepreneurship. 

I am -- I am one that's been labeled as an entrepreneur -- as an imagineer in the past, to use a Disney term, before. 

I think -- I saw something that the city is doing in terms of small and medium business probably, too. 

That is maybe through Dallas Forward, I'm not really sure, but forgot. 

But I think Incubators, I worked with them a lot in Central Florida, where somebody can go somewhere to learn more about the business aspects, how to develop a business, how to take an idea from an idea to become reality. 

And then I don't know if you have those, too. 

I don't know if you have small business development centers in the Dallas area. 

Do you have that -- those already? 


So you have that already so you know what I'm talking about. 

So those are crucially important because two things here -- data. 

First of all, the American economy is 80 to 85% based on small businesses. 

In contrast what people think it is, it is small businesses, entrepreneurs that -- that have ideas that make it happen. 

And two, in economic development, the number one reason a company grow, expand, or move into an area, it is not taxes, it is not schools, it is workforce readiness. 

That means -- can they find people who are employable? 

Do we have the skilled workforce? 

So all that goes together, that somebody may have -- and my advice has always been to -- when I speak publicly about entrepreneurship -- is if you want to be an entrepreneur in specific area in business you don't know, go get a job at it first. 

Learn the trades from the bottom up first. 

They'll be much more successful as an entrepreneur later as well. 

So one of the people that I follow, actually often, is a Dallas person -- is Mark Cuban. 

He talks a lot about that in his public speaking and he mention how important it is to do the work before you become the boss of something. 

That way, you know all the inside and out. 

I think it's good. 

You know, I've done work with the small business administration in D.C. 

Actually, one of my reference is -- used to be the ex-chairwoman of the board of Valencia. 

She is on the board now of [inaudible] small business development center -- SBA. 

We've gone after some grants for -- for small business, whether it's brick and mortar. 

Usually, they -- they fund that sometimes. 

But you always have to find local commitment also. 

So if you leverage the work you're doing plus leverage the work that Kourtny is doing and Mayor Johnson is doing, then I think we'll be able to go after some federal dollars as well to do this. 

Because there are some, you know -- as you know, probably, my work with Catalyst, my work with NSF, has exposed me a lot to federal opportunities in the last twenty years or so. 

[Moderator]:  Excellent. 

Going to the chat room, if you have a question, feel free to throw it into the chat room. 

But here's a question from the chat room. 

COVID has changed a lot. 

I mean, we have seen a lot of change due to COVID. 

What are some major changes you see regarding the future of workforce development? 

What are some key changes you foresee -- 

[Candidate]:  I think -- 

[Moderator]:  -- due to COVID? 

[Candidate]:  -- yes. 

Good question because the whole world globally is trying to wrestle now, trying to predict what this is going to look like after the vaccines are given. 

And we are -- let's assume everybody takes the vaccine, but that's not going to happen. 

That's not going to be the case. 

And it is not COVID, what is the next thing we have to face? 

If you know now in the last 24, 48 hours, a new illness in India has -- has been found and created. 

You know, I think 300 people have been sick. 

We don't know what it is yet. 

So we are into totally different world. 

So I think what COVID's impact is going to be is, one, we're going to start relying as much as we can and when we have to on this kind of communication that we're doing now instead of face-to-face. 

But I am a person who strongly believe of the interpersonal connection. 

I said that earlier. 

So I don't want to lose sight of the fact that, even though I have had some great discussions with Kourtny and with Rick and you and others, that that's not going to take away -- if I am going to Dallas, part of the first few days, I'll be knocking on their doors or making calls to make sure I can see them and talk about the future. 

Even though we've had this kind of discussion before. 

So -- so I think we're going to have to be adaptable. 

We're going to have to be willing to be flexible. 

I think we're going to have to be willing to be flexible also with our employees, because if they are high-risk employees, diabetes, obesity, any kind of lung or immune problem, even though they are under -- under the age of 65, we really cannot force them into an uncomfortable situation. 

That's going to open the door for a lot of lawsuits down the road. 

So until the nation and globally get a -- you know, get a hold of all this, I think we have to be a little more flexible. 

I know I had to be here -- we had to be at the university, you know, to make sure that no one feels uncomfortable or no one feels unsafe to come to work. 

That is -- that is a big no-no. 

It goes against our mission, too, anyway. 

I believe Dallas College wants to be the same. 

They don't want to force people to be in a place where they feel not safe, obviously, which is why you're closing the campuses until through the spring still. 

So those are -- those are -- and to be honest with you, Rick, I'm not really sure yet that, at the global level, not just nationally, we have all these answers yet. 

I don't think we do because I've seen many countries, you know, being trilingual and have families in different places, and relationship through education, different countries, they're struggling through the same thing also. 

This is, you know, I think we are towards the last stages of this, but we haven't -- that boat hasn't come to shore yet, clearly. 

Or the path has not been plotted because -- and another thing is, how about if we get the vaccine and people have reaction to the vaccine? 

What's going to happen? 

So, I mean, I -- I appreciate the question, but I think this is the best I can answer now. 

And we have to keep our mind open to other solutions as we move forward with this. 


[Moderator]:  Excellent.  Great. 

I'll throw it back to our panelists. 

Kourtny, do you have a -- any follow-up questions here? 

[Panelist]:  Yeah. 

I have one that I want to talk about visioning. 

You know, there -- as you well know -- it's a very exciting time for Dallas College and, particularly, for the El Centro campus as the new facility is planned. 

[Candidate]:   Mm-hmm. 

[Panelist]:  I'd love to hear from you some perspective on your approach to visioning; particularly when there's been a tremendous amount of really great work that's been done. 

But then how you would also indoctrinate that into any new and fresh ideas that you might have or learn from outside constituencies. 

[Candidate]:  Yes. 

I -- I think we, you know, come into -- let's say, hypothetically I come to El Centro. 

Obviously, El Centro has been open since 1966, I believe, so it is, you know, has been in existence, you know, way before I was grown up or even walking. 

So I need to find out what are the successes -- by listening -- what -- what have we done correctly? 

And to be very honest, I don't want to hear that only from internal constituents because sometimes the external constituents' idea of success may be a little bit different than what we're doing inside. 

So I want to hear from both sides. 

I'm not saying one part is not important versus the other. 

So I would want to know from you, for example, what -- what has El Centro done working with you to make Downtown Dallas Inc. successful or contribute to the vision that you have? 

What can we make -- do differently? 

I would be asking the same question of Rick Ortiz and -- and everybody else as well. 

I would be asking the same question internally from the leadership or through, maybe, I like the town hall approach. 

That's when people are free to say pretty much whatever they want. 

So I -- that's a -- to me is a very comfortable, very pleasant experience to be in a town hall. 

Students, faculty, staff, etc. and everybody can ask the question comes to their head. 

Because I'm going to answer it truthfully no matter what, whether they like it or not, that's how I feel. 

That's how we have to be -- yourself. 

So I'll ask those questions and -- and I'm hoping there will be some kind of -- they'll not be -- they will not be completely and mutually exclusive. 

There will be some -- some joint project that everybody feels they -- they are successful. 

So we want to continue to support those. 

We want to build on those. 

Now let's talk about different -- something different. 

Or if something was tried before, didn't work well. 

Listen, if you want to get buy-in from -- from everyone, or attempt at least, that means you have to give -- you have to listen to the voice of everyone. 

Doesn't mean you have to implement every idea every person has or -- or every community member has. 

But it means that to move forward on an idea, we all have to have, to some -- come to some kind of understanding that this is a good thing for the college and the community. 

And that also includes the students' voices also because, in reality, they may be the one implementing this change when they leave us and go to work in downtown Dallas. 

So I want to get from your side, I want to get from inside the, you know, community, inside the campus community perspective and then compile all this into some ideas to move forward. 

Again, you cannot please everyone, but you can listen to all and consider all. 

And that's what I promise I will do -- that I will be very decisive and move forward in a direction that I think is good for the campus and the community. 

So look for me, we're saying hypothetically, to be very involved in what you do and to want you to be involved in what I do. 

Because that's the only way we can be true partners. 

If we don't -- and that goes to everybody else in the community -- if we are not very involved and feel comfortable to share the good, the bad, and the ugly, in a way -- you know, share successes and -- and take, you know, failure is really not that bad, really, unless you don't go back and try again to do it better. 

Failure is like a laboratory. 

I'm an engineer. 

So you -- you could try in different sciences and you -- you get different numbers until you get what you want. 

So look for that engagement to be. 

And you asked me earlier. 

All you have to do is Google my name and you find out a lot of those partnerships. 

And if you don't find a number or a person, email me and I'll give you number of a person to tell you -- he is -- you know, one of the worst thing about doing interviews, to be honest, for me, is you have to brag about yourself. 

But I know this is what we have to do in interviews and talk about it. 

You know, there are people in Central Florida who would say -- even here in Montana -- from the mayor to the chairman to the CEO of Economic Development, to the Chamber President, that he put the college or the university name on the table, locally. 

And -- and was it only me? 

Of course not. 

You know, I was just selling all the good stuff that the people were doing on campuses. 

You know? 

So -- and -- and -- so to me, before we commit to any new -- something new, I want the campuses to be comfortable, the campus to be comfortable. 

I'm not at all against also having my other colleagues, who are campus president different places, to also share whether in the -- I don't want to say glory, but share in the idea. 

Insight.  Give me some advice. 

You know, it's a sign of strength when you ask for help. 

It's not a sign of weakness. 

To me, at least -- if you want to do it right. 

So this is the kind of engagement, you know, you're going to see, you know, in me. 

[Moderator]:  This is great. 

Rick Ortiz, do you have any follow-up questions? 

[Panelist]:  I do, Rick. 

Thank you. 

Dr. Hawat, I'm going to ask you to brag about yourself right now. 

So -- 

[Candidate]:  [laughing] Okay. 

I -- I have to tell you, it's not comfortable, but I have to. 

I know I do. 

[Panelist]:  Yeah.  I -- I understand. 

You know, talking about COVID and the impact that it's -- that it's having and will continue to have and, you know, what the future is going to look like, I think I -- I agree with you. 

I think the normal will probably not look the way it used to. 

It's going to be some hybrid model and technology obviously, I think, as we're seeing, is going to play -- there's going to be a hybrid somewhere in there. 

That being said, the role you're -- you're looking at right now with Dallas College, El Centro, is not going to be your traditional role. 

It's going to be -- it's going to be different now with one college, one mission, one vision. 

And so the question is going to be, in -- in your -- can you describe a situation in which you embraced a new system, process, technology or idea at work that was a major departure from the old way of doing things? 

And I'll add a twist to that. 

And did it involve external partners? 

[Candidate]:  Yes. 

And -- and forgive me if you heard this from me before or if I -- I don't remember if I said it. 

I had three back to back, so I don't remember sometimes if I said this in one or the other. 

But I'm going to take one example of -- engineering because that's my background, you know? 

And I think I talked about this in the previous session and maybe you were there, but let me go back and if you want something different, I will try to come up with something different. 

But traditionally, people come to university. 

They take -- the college, they take the first two year general education, then they go to university to study higher level engineering work. 

And that -- that can apply to IT. 

That can apply to design. 

That can apply to [inaudible]. 

That can apply to hospitality, probably, too. 

So nationally, because I was representing the older community college on the American Society for Engineering Education, and since you asked me to brag, I was also representative from the American Society for Engineering Education on the Council of Deans in Canada for many years. 

So that -- so I'd had access to the numbers -- national numbers. 

So we were losing 40 to 60% of engineering students in the first year. 

That means they haven't even had a taste of what engineering is about. 

So I worked -- I start partnering with outside community member. 

Usually they're typically they're engineers that come from, maybe, a variety of background; maybe Hispanic and African-American engineers at NASA - an astronaut, second black engineer -- astronaut to be in space. 

And university -- other university deans and college deans that I knew around the state. 

And also working -- because I was the -- the course numbering system -- meaning that in the State of Florida, when somebody applies for a course number from the -- every time, say, Dallas wants to develop a course, they apply for the state -- at least for the State of Florida -- they get a number back for the course number. 

So I was on that committee. 

I convinced everyone to buy into the idea that we need to somehow start teaching -- exposing student to engineering education at lower level. 

And start it by first class. 

I bring in speakers, different ethnicity, different background to -- to talk about this, and get them encouraged to be in -- in teams. 

Work on projects in teams. 

Now I know you ask me one -- and example, one. 

I have to absorb something then, you know, I don't think you said something I don't believe in, but this is a new approach that we did before than -- than the college was traditionally operating. 

On top of that, we assigned advisors specifically for those students by -- we call them program advisors, career program advisors. 

So if you're an engineer, you have somebody to talk to. 

And we increased the -- the rates of retention and graduation rates tremendously. 

Now I'm thinking here, while I'm talking to you, about some example that I didn't agree with but, typically, anything that is good for the students and for the college in general, I would be in agreement with. 

And I would go along to make it happen the best way it can. 

But those are just -- this is just an example of how things. 

Another one I gave earlier to Kourtny, when we have -- we never used to have classes, high-tech, technical classes on campuses in industry. 

So that is something that I worked on, I created, a big part of as well, to increase enrollment, to make it more relevant education. 

Now I want to add a little bit of comment, Rick, on the COVID impact. 

You're right. 

We don't know. 

I think what is more concerning to me is we need to have more research done on the impact on different populations because I think COVID impact on certain populations is a little bit harder and stronger than other population. 

The digital divide is clearly now an issue. 

It's no longer social divide and wealth divide and education divide. 

It's a digital divide. 

So I think that brought up more challenge -- I -- I don't call things problem. 

I call them challenges. 

And my approach always -- tell me what we need to do to make it happen. 

Don't tell me why it cannot happen. 

It's just my approach in life, usually. 

So I'm an optimist and -- and -- and so I think that's another impact that we will not know fully until we have some data, whether it's locally or nationally, about the impact of COVID on certain population. 

We do know some population got sicker than others. 

Higher rate. 

We know that part. 

But we don't know about the impact of doing business and education, all that, in some population also. 

I hope that made sense. 

[Moderator]:  Absolutely. 

Well, this is good. 

I'll throw out a last call to the chat room. 

It's looking a little quiet in the chat room, but if you have a question you'd like to toss to Dr. Hawat, please fill that out in the chat room now. 

And to our panelists, I'll just kind of open it up to either one of you. 

Any follow-up questions or -- 

[Candidate]:  Okay, now I know some of the people on that chat. 

I'm not -- I -- some I've interviewed with before, so come on! [laughing]

[Moderator]:  [laughing] Well, I -- I actually had a question. 

[Candidate]:  Sure. 

[Moderator]:  Earlier you were talking about failure and how that's a laboratory. 

You learn. 

I'm wondering if you learned any leadership principles or anything you've learned from your own, you know, failures or your own background of -- 

[Candidate]:  Yes! 

[Moderator]:  -- life lessons learned. 

[Candidate]:  Of course, I have. 

And not only that, I've also learned by watching others fail also. 

And -- and -- in some cases, maybe, fail in their approach to me as well. 

So you take that, said okay, this affected me so negatively, so I should be more aware not to make it -- not to pass the buck, as they say. 

Not to make it then to repeat the process. 

Yes, I think -- I think sometimes we lose sight that not everyone grasps things the way we do. 

Not everyone likes to work at the same speed that we do. 

Not everyone can catch the big headlights and make enough conclusion to move forward because we can be wrong. 

So I've learned through -- through my life, as couple of lessons and, again, I don't know if you heard this -- the previous one, or it was in the morning, the first session I had. 

Two -- two lessons I've learned from my life that have served me tremendously in my career. 

One, you can attract more bees with honey than vinegar. 

So why, if you want -- if you want to attract more bees to work together, why use the antagonistic approach? 


You know, after all, we're all human being with feelings. 

Two, if you want to go fast, you go alone. 

Sometimes you may have to do it. 

But if you want to go far and sustain, you have to go with a team to do that. 

And it cannot be depending only on me or a person. 

Has to be a process that stays in place even after we move on to something else or retire, etc. 

So -- and also I've learned a lesson through my career early is -- is to focus more on character. 

You know, I have been -- I have had job opportunities -- and, of course, I won't say name -- to be in magnificent jobs, high-level jobs. 

And, literally, one or two sentences made by someone in front of me made me walk away. 

Here's one of them. 

If you do not micromanage your staff and your team, I'll do it for you. 

And second one, I value skills at 75% and character of 25%. 

I knew I couldn't work in that environment. 

I knew this was going to go against everything I believe in, because I don't believe in micromanagement. 

I believe in -- in trusting and empowering people to do the best job they can, or don't hire them. 

Or don't have them there. 

And two, I think character is worth a lot more than 25% because you can send me to learn anything you want me to learn, you know, and -- but is there a class for character? 

That comes a little bit differently from different sources, I guess. 

So those -- those are things that I value a lot in my -- in my -- my life, not just my career. 

And I think they're very important and they made me walk away from great opportunities before. 

[Moderator]:  Well, it has been an honor to spend some time with you. 

And I want to give you, kind of, last words. 

But before we do that, I -- I don't see any more questions in the chat room. 

I want to check with our panelists. 

Any last questions before we give him last words? 

We're good?  Okay. 

Well, Dr. Hawat. 

Thank you so much. 

I just want to leave you the last bit to give us closing remarks. 

[Candidate]:  Well, thank you. 

I know we didn't ask a lot of question in this session because the questions were really involved a lot of -- a lot of answers on my part. 

So I apologize. 

But feel free, you know, you can find me. 

Go on Google, on Linked In these days. 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, even afterwards. 

It think it's important to me. 

And two, I want to thank everyone for being here, being with me so late, even in your dinner hour and after work. 

And it has been a tremendous and positive experience for me, honestly. 

I hope everybody felt the same way. 

And I felt very comfortable in the discussion, all the discussions so far, which I've been -- I don't know how many interviews I've had so far. 

I know I had three today. 

Three one-hour sessions. 

But I've had some before also. 

Thank you. 

I wish you the best of luck and -- and you know, in some ways, El Centro campus is connected to me, even if I don't get this job, let's say. 

Because they are a member of the National Cyberwatch whose [inaudible] [inaudible] is over. 

So I'm very aware of the work being done and we'll continue to give you support. 

Hopefully, I'll do it physically when I'm on campus. 

But, if not, I'll do it virtually through Washington and Montana. 

[Moderator]:  Well, Dr. Gaby Hawat. 

Thank you so much. 

Thank you to our panelists, our participants, and this will conclude our community forum. 

Just a quick reminder, our last two community forums will be held tomorrow, December 9th at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. 

So you guys have a great night. 

Thank you so much. 

[Candidate]:  Thank you. 

And if I have a forum, I want you to moderate it, Rick, if I come to campus. 

[Moderator]:  Any time. Any time. 

[Candidate]:  No, I mean it. 

I mean it's a pleasure. 

Great job.  Thank you. 

[Moderator]:  Thank you. 

Thank you so much. 

Bye, bye.

[Candidate]:  Bye, bye. 

[ Silence ]