The City Colleges of Chicago has yet to name a permanent replacement for Zerrie Campbell, the former Malcolm X College president who retired this spring.
A committee was formed by the CCC for the West Side college, 1900 W. Van Buren, shortly after Campbell’s departure in March. While the committee is looking at potential candidates to fill her shoes, Ghingo Brooks, a former dean and vice president at the college, has served as interim president.
“Now that I am serving in this capacity I certainly have more of a sense of what made Campbell so effective in the role, however, it is a role I feel comfortable in,” said Brooks.
In February, Brooks began taking over the duties as president, or dean of the school.
He began as an administrative assistant at the college in 1978. He left a year later, but returned in 1992 as dean of student services. Campbell, the school’s longest serving president in the school’s 39-year history, was hired the previous year. During her 16 years as president, Campbell saw the school achieve 10 consecutive years of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
After leaving once again in 1995 to take over as vice president of student affairs at Harold Washington College, Brooks returned to MXC for good in 1999 as vice president of student enrollment. He’s hopeful it is his final move.
“I would love the opportunity to become the dean of the school on a permanent basis,” said the 53-year-old. “However, the committee has been very tight-lipped about candidates. I know that I did apply and have expressed interest in removing the interim label, but ultimately it is up to [CCC Chancellor] Wayne Watson.”
The City Collages has refused to publicly disclose information concerning the status of the search. Truman College on the North Side is also searching for a new president. Brooks, though, is optimistic that he will be offered the MXC position permanently.
“I enjoy working at Malcolm X because of its diversity, [and it’s] commitment to offering programs that cover many focuses of study, including the health care field. And its mantra, ‘Empowerment though Education’ is my personal philosophy,” he said.
Brooks is also inspired by the man for whom the school was named.
“Malcolm X is a hero of mine because he saw education as a tool of transformation. Even when he was a petty criminal, he knew that he had potential,” Brooks said. “Once he was incarcerated and began educating himself, it became the impetus for a transformation of lifestyle and world view.
“Then, when he went to Mecca, he learned more and it further shaped him. He was always willing to learn and improve himself.”
Brooks has been married to his second wife, Phyllis Brooks, a professor at Kennedy-King College, for 15 years. He’s the father of nine children and has six grandchildren.
The school has moved on with Brooks at the helm. On May 9, the school saw 300 students graduate from the school. The school’s summer semester begins on July 1. This period of recruitment, Brooks describes, is the most challenging element for him as dean of the college.
Last summer, the college hosted a 24-hour block party to spur recruitment. The party, Brooks believes, was largely a success and he says the school is working to host another one this year.
“There are so many different colleges out there and students have so many options that we really need to go out to the schools and let high school students know about our programs,” he said.