To those who know him, FA Board Member William R. “Rod” Foster is the living embodiment of what he holds as one of his core beliefs.
“You gotta show up!” Foster says.
In his 32 years at PCC, first as an administrator and more recently as an instructor, Foster has “shown up” in so many venues it would be almost impossible to document them all.
“I enjoy what I do, and I’m not counting the minutes till I retire,” Foster adds. “It’s so true that if you have a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
Foster was recruited from Fullerton College in 1985 by Bob Miller (who later became president of PCC) to serve as Dean of Learning Resources, a position he held for 13 years. Among other areas, he was
responsible for the library, the audio-visual department and served as general manager of public radio station KPCC, which, in those days, broadcast from an antenna mounted on the C Building.
He also taught television field production, television writing, mass communications and film history.
During his time as dean, the college built the Shatford Library, moved the radio station into the basement and relocated the broadcast antenna to Mt. Wilson. It was also the time when a bond measure allowed for construction of the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium and the first parking structure.
After a decade in management, “I was allowed to retreat to the classroom,” Foster recalls. “Getting up early for “Morning Edition” (the NPR show) and begging for bucks [continually] gets old quickly. But, I’m still a big fan of KPCC.”
Foster says his current outlook and many accomplishments over the years were shaped in large measure by what happened to his adoptive father, who died at age 51 from a sudden heart attack when Foster was just 25.
“He was haunted by [his experiences during] the Great Depression and worked himself to death,” Foster says. “I watched a man kill himself trying to get rich, and did not want to go down that road.”
Almost as important was his detour as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War era. Foster left school in 1967 and joined the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program and spent a year in Chicago and Milwaukee providing services to migrant workers who came seasonally to pick crops in the Midwest.
But it was tough for a southern Californian. “One winter in the cold was enough for me,” Foster says.
When his draft number was picked on Christmas Day in 1971, however, Foster chose “alternative service” and helped to found a halfway house for ex-convicts in the Eureka area.
“This experience set my path in life,” he says. “I decided that I wanted to work helping other people.”
Foster found another way to serve others by joining the FA in 1998 as a grievance officer, a position he held for five years. He became a board member in 2000, and has served every year since then except for the couple of years he took to write his book, “Early Film History,” which is now used as the text for his Theater Arts class.
“I’m one of the few who actually enjoys shared governance,” Foster says. This is evident from his service on many campus committees include the Budget, Resource and Allocation Committee and the Academic Senate, where he has served as a board member for about five years.
The Senate plays a very important role on campus, Foster says. “I enjoy the Senate. It is a great place for the faculty to be heard and we should jealously guard our … rights on campus,” he says.
Foster is one of just a handful of faculty members who serve on both the FA and AS boards. “This has given me a unique perspective that I would not have had otherwise,” he says.
Foster is a consummate professional who has clearly arrived at a place in which he is comfortable and making a significant contribution. “If I do this until I die, I would be quite happy,” he says.