DVC alum wins education award


Danny Yoeono

Tim Farley, winner of the 2017 Edwin Crawford Award for Innovation, at Saint Mary’s College. (Nov. 15, 2017)

Daniel Yoeono, Copy editor

Diablo Valley College alumni, Tim Farley, received the Edwin Crawford Award for innovation which recognizes excellence in state government relations with higher education institutions.

Farley received the award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), of which DVC is a member, in October for his work as the director of community and government relations at Saint Mary’s College.

Farley enjoys seeing students succeed saying, “Being at the graduation ceremonies is so gratifying.”

This year is Farley’s 11th anniversary at Saint Mary’s where he has built some of the best government relations in California.

Part of Farley’s success comes from knowing how the political system works saying, “To be effective in government relations, you meet the legislators as early in the process as you can and introduce yourself to the staffers. With legislative turnover, politicians may leave, but generally, the staff stays.”

According to Monica Fitzgerald, an associate professor in Saint Mary’s Justice, Community and Leadership Department, Farley is instrumental in engaging students with politics.

Farley fights for Cal Grants, coordinates trips with students to the state capitol and wrangles political figures to speak at Saint Mary’s. On Nov. 15, Saint Mary’s hosted a bipartisan panel discussion with local legislators, state Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and state assembly member Catharine Baker (R-Dublin). Farley helped by getting the legislators to come to the event.

But Farley’s impact on education doesn’t stop with Saint Mary’s. In his spare time he also moonlights as the vice president of the governing board for the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD). 

Farley is a third generation resident of Contra Costa County whose father went to DVC and whose son currently attends.

While attending DVC himself, one of Farley’s professors, Bill Harlan, took a personal interest in Farley and inspired him to be excited about his education. The attention and advice he received from his instructors and counselors propelled him from working at the Shell Refinery in Martinez, graduating UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in public science and public service.

From there he interned in Sacramento and began his career in politics, serving under state assembly member Robert Campbell in the early 1980s.

From 1990 to 1998, Farley served two terms on the Martinez city council. During his first term, Farley was the youngest city council member in the county at 30 years old.

While there, he helped pass a public smoking ban in Martinez that became model legislation across the state.

In 2014, Farley ran for and won, a seat on the board of trustees for the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD).

Current board secretary, John Marquez said, “I feel his past political experience contributes much to his participation and work on the college board. While we may not always agree in certain matters, we manage to work cooperatively with the best interest of students and district in mind.”

Taking what he’s learned at Saint Mary’s, Farley has brought that knowledge with him to the board. “I think both institutions have the same goal. We assist our students to get the most of their educational experience. That will set them up for a lifetime of success and fulfillment,” said Farley. “Working at Saint Mary’s has allowed me additional insight into financial aid and access to higher ed that is so important to students’ futures.”

Farley said the number one budgetary concern for the district right now is keeping the academic staffing, a shift from a few years ago when the district was receiving complaints students weren’t able to get the classes they needed.

Reflecting on his career, he wouldn’t stop any young person from following his footsteps. “I still encourage people to get into public service and politics. It is honorable and rewarding,” he said. “But also, you have to have thick skin.”

Even when he returns to the DVC campus today, he gets a warm feeling. “My dad was a vet and went to DVC under the GI Bill. That was one of my very first experiences of the school, going to the bookstore with my dad.”

Farley plans to run again for the 4CD governing board in 2018 when his own term expires.

“I am very proud of being a DVC graduate who has gone on and achieved success in my field. I hope that is an example to all other students attending the colleges of Contra Costa. That is what I am most proud of.”