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A Gentle Giant Says Farewell

On December 28, 2007, Santa Ana College said farewell to one of its most beloved administrative officers, with the retirement of Thom B. Hill from the post of Dean of the Fine and Performing Arts Division. For the past 17 years, Thom has been responsible for the disciplines of art, dance, journalism, music, photography, speech communications, television/video and theatre.

In this role, he supervised and evaluated both faculty and classified employee performance for 32 full-time and 85 adjunct instructors. Additionally, he managed the administrative responsibility for five full-time and 30-plus ongoing hourly employees. Outside the purview of the division, he served the SAC campus as its accreditation liaison officer, co-chair of the Accreditation Steering Committee, chair of the Sabbatical Leave Committee and chair of the Administrative Liaison Committee. He has also represented Rancho Santiago Community College District in many professional associations and committees.

That’s a very big load for one person to carry, but never too much for Thom, who administrative clerk Toni Withey describes as a gentle giant. “Thom has great compassion,” she explains. “He is focused, direct, loyal, always willing to go to bat for each department in the division, and has a fabulous sense of humor, to boot.”

Thom came to the Rancho Santiago Community College District in July of 1990, after spending 16-plus years at Citrus College in Glendora in a variety of roles, ending as dean of administrative and culture services. His tenure between the two districts totals about 34 years.

Marveling at the changes he has witnessed at Santa Ana College, Thom points particularly to the conversion to institutional technology. “Electronic mail, classroom lectures, tracking teaching loads—every aspect of our personal and professional lives has been and continues to be influenced by technology,” he says.

Some of the accomplishments of which he is most proud include:

  • his influence in the opening of the SAC Gallery in the Santora Building as part of the Santa Ana Artists Village
  • his push to create a new scheduling program to facilitate accuracy and accountability in class section scheduling
  • his divisional and district-wide working relationships with faculty and staff
  • his involvement with statewide and regional associations, such as the Association of instructional Administrators, the Association of California Community College Administrators, the nationally-based Association of Arts Presenters, and the California Presenters Network
  • his roles as secretary-treasurer, president and executive director of the Western Arts Alliance, and
  • his participation on three separate California Arts Council Advisory Panels

Thom and his wife of 24 years, Sheryl, share their Glendora home with a 17-year-old tabby cat named Stitches, who Thom says allows them to live with him under his own very strict terms. Every summer they make about 20 cases of Hills’ Dills, fresh garlic dill pickles which they share with friends and family during the holiday season.

Thom looks forward to no alarm clocks, no 57 freeway commute, more golf and catching up on reading—particularly contemporary playwrights. “Sheryl and I hope to do some traveling; we have a great affinity for the beauty of South Dakota’s Black Hills, and also want to get to midtown Manhattan in the Big Apple to see the newest and best of Broadway theatre. I’ll continue to serve on the Glendora Library Friends Foundation Board, specifically on its ongoing literacy project, and I plan to change my membership in the Glendora Rotary Club from honorary to active so that I can become more involved.

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