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The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Obed Vazquez, Dean of Social Sciences, Retires After 24 Years at DVC

Courtesy of Obed Vazquez and the Social Sciences Department. Vazquez worked as a sociology professor at DVC for 13 years before becoming Dean of Social Sciences.

Obed Vazquez, who has been the dean of social sciences at Diablo Valley College since 2013, and worked for 13 years as a DVC sociology professor before that, will retire following this semester.

“As Dean, each day has been different,” Vazquez said in an email interview with The Inquirer.

“It was one of the things that I was promised in the job: ‘never a dull moment.’ Each day has been a flurry of activities that made every day exciting, and it went by rather fast.” 


An educational journey

Vazquez grew up in northern New Jersey and began his college education at Andrews University in Michigan, where he majored in chemistry and mathematics while minoring in education and religion.

“My teaching career started by teaching in Adult Education, teaching classes for the GED and ESL,” Vazquez said. “At the same time, I also worked in the chemical industry as a chemist.” 

Later, Vazquez worked as a research assistant with sociology professor Dr. Ronald Lawson at Queens College, City University of New York, and eventually joined his research team — a move that would define his later academic focus.

“This entailed traveling to over 40 countries [in] Europe, Africa and Asia,” Vazquez said. “The research explored religion as a colonizer.”

“I was inspired to formalize what I was learning and practicing,” he added, and his experiences abroad led Vazquez to pursue a doctorate in sociology at Brown University.


The DVC experience

Vazquez said when he arrived as a sociology professor at Diablo Valley College in 2000, a number of structural changes were happening at the school. 

New division deans were assuming leadership within the college campus, and vice presidents were being added. 

“Conversations revolved around the idea of division deans, which was a new idea for college structure, and the installation of vice presidents,” said Vazquez. 

Also underway was the discussion of adding an Ethnic Studies degree program, which, after decades, finally came to fruition at DVC several years ago.

“I was part of the conversations back in the early 2000’s and certainly participated in getting the course Ethnic Studies moved forward, along with the hiring of a full time faculty member in Ethnic Studies, and now hiring adjuncts in Ethnic Studies,” Vazquez stated.  

During his first year on campus, Vazquez was recruited as an advisor for Alpha Gamma Sigma-Gamma Psi, the DVC chapter of the California Community Colleges Honor Society. He said he still supports the honor society’s work.

“Combining academic excellence with community service and leadership opportunities, [the club is] an outstanding way to be active in the college, and also provides substance to transfer applications,” he said.

Vazquez also got involved with the society’s state organization and served as its state advisory president. He went on to eventually become President of the Board of Trustees.


Leaving a legacy 

In the Fall 2012 semester, a new Social Sciences dean was hired but then quickly resigned, leaving the position open by the end of the year. 

Through conversations he had with fellow faculty members, Vazquez said he was urged to apply for the role. “It was not something I had entertained, but I went ahead and applied,” he said. 

Vazquez was hired as Dean of English and Social Sciences the following year. 

One of his many accomplishments includes the successful two-year revitalization of the DVC journalism program, which began during the pandemic.

With journalism in high school disappearing, Vazquez said he felt journalism in college was “necessary,” saying “college is complete when journalism is offered.”

“We were able to put together a group of faculty, both full time and adjunct, that had the enthusiasm to do the work and create a dynamic program,” Vazquez said. 

Vazquez has seen the school transition through various eras, from the difficult job market facing students in the Great Recession, to the stresses of moving classes entirely online during Covid-19.

Through it all, he said, the school’s administration, faculty and staff served its students — which he said he’s confident it will continue to do reliably in the years ahead.

“While the future brings enormous challenges to the institution, DVC has a wealth of talent in all areas and a strong commitment to success,” he stated. 

Reflecting on his decades here, Vazquez praised the school’s teachers for their extraordinary efforts year in and year out.

At DVC, he “found faculty were committed to excellence in teaching, always improving their craft, and providing the best possible learning environment for students.”

“I think that spirit continues,” said Vazquez. 

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About the Contributors
Zoe Chan, Staff Writer
Nate Wendling, Staff Writer

Comments (1)

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    Charleen B EarleyMay 2, 2024 at 8:04 am

    Wonderful piece Zoe Chan and Nate Wendling on Dean Obed Vasquez! What a legacy Obed. You will be missed.
    Charleen Earley