Staedler: Losing a leader should inspire us to do more in higher education workforce housing
Jorge Escobar, vice chancellor for the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, died while on vacation in Mexico. Image courtesy of San Jose-Evergreen Community College District.

    My plan for this month’s column was to talk about the importance of workforce housing in the higher education sector. I was going to discuss the lack of options available and the need for cooperation across all of Silicon Valley’s exceptional institutions. San Jose State has been making big strides in this endeavor and progress on making cross-institutional collaboration a reality.

    I could go on about San Jose’s lack of a real recognizable change from its current failed housing plan—but our community lost a leader in this field.

    On April 16, the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District lost a dedicated and beloved member of its community. Vice Chancellor Jorge Escobar died after a tragic accident while on vacation in Mexico.

    I consulted for Jorge over the last three and a half years. He was a true champion for higher education, and spent a majority of his career ensuring all students had access to the resources and support they needed to succeed. He was known for his unwavering commitment to district staff. He believed the district needed to build workforce housing and improve the culture of the organization by relocating employees into a building where they could better work together. He was determined in these efforts and I was proud to have San Jose-Evergreen Community College District as a client—and more importantly, Jorge as a friend.

    Throughout his time with the district, Jorge played a critical role in expanding access to education for underrepresented communities. He worked tirelessly to improve student services and programs, and his efforts helped countless students overcome the barriers that often stand in the way of achieving a college education.

    In addition to his work with the district, Jorge was also a beloved member of the San Jose community. He was known for his warmth, compassion and kindness, and his loss has been felt deeply by all who knew him.

    As we mourn the passing of Jorge Escobar, we also celebrate his legacy and the tremendous impact he had on our community. His commitment to higher education will continue to inspire us all, and we will honor his memory by carrying on his important work.

    San José Spotlight columnist Bob Staedler is a principal at Silicon Valley Synergy, a San Jose-based land use and development consulting firm. His columns appear every first Monday of the month. Contact Bob at [email protected] or follow @BobStaedler on Twitter.

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