Michael Renzi selected as new VP of Administrative Services at Gavilan Collegeby Jan Janes on Sep 6, 2019
Michael John Renzi has joined the administration of Gavilan College as Vice President of Administrative Services, filling the vacancy created by the June retirement of Fred Harris.
Renzi brings a background replete with military, business, and education experience.
Michael John Renzi joined Gavilan College as Vice President
of Administrative Services in August 2019.
“Going into education was a good fit,” said Renzi. “It’s in my DNA.” His father and uncle were both ESL teachers in Brazil, where he was born.
Renzi’s most recent positions include Director of Finance and Administration at Stanford University School of Medicine, Vice President of Administrative Services at West Valley College and Director of Finance and Administration at San Jose City College. His financial training began in the military.
Straight out of Clear Lake High School in northern California, Renzi enlisted in the Army, taking all the government finance and accounting classes in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. “I enjoyed the fact that, as a non-commissioned officer, I was in charge of training soldiers,” he said. He also oversaw programs where he trained civilians and people in other branches of the military.
After eight years in the military, Renzi attended Santa Clara University (SCU), shifting focus from economics to earn a BS in political science. He also worked full time at Cooley LLC, an international law firm headquartered in Palo Alto with offices worldwide. “I helped with client record keeping and trained attorneys to master client billing,” said Renzi. “They helped me with bandwidth.”
He became interested in law while working for SCU as a fiscal officer. “They appreciated finding someone with financial expertise who had experience working in a law firm.” The job created a deeper interest in law, and he attended Santa Clara University School of Law while working as fiscal officer. The training in law opened up opportunities to become a public administrator.
Renzi worked as Director of Finance and Administration at San Jose City College in 2005. “I was there to help them navigate out of accreditation warning,” he said. “A great place to start.” It also brought back childhood memories, as his grandmother attended some of her RN classes there, and she would bring her young grandson along.
After two years at SJCC, Renzi joined West Valley College as Vice President of Administrative Services in 2007. “The college was appealing, with a focus on student centeredness,” he said. Following approval of a bond measure, they were about to embark on a major renovation project. The campus had not been modernized since 1968.
“We learned from West Valley’s president, Dr. Phil Hartley, he really helped us all understand, it wouldn’t be possible to renovate without the support of the community.”
Most recently, Renzi served as Director of Finance and Administration for Stanford University School of Medicine for seven years. “The School of Medicine is bigger than Stanford University,” said Renzi. “And Stanford is a small city.” He performed managerial cost accounting, setting annual federal appropriation research rates to charge. “I did a lot of predictive modeling to set daily chargeable rates, so we fully recovered our costs by the end of each year.”
Dealing with more than 60 medical school departments, each ranging from 200 to more than 4,000 individuals, Renzi rarely saw students. “I saw more of my community college students than students at Stanford,” he said. “I missed that.”
“It was wonderful working at Stanford,” Renzi said. “But my passion is community colleges, particularly ones that are student centered.”
Renzi found Gavilan attractive because of its size, location and physical beauty.
“I have a theory that campuses adjacent to freeways have a cantankerous vibe,” he said. “Campuses off the beaten path, nestled in nature, have a student-centered, nurturing environment.”
During his career in higher education, Renzi has served seven different college presidents, learning from their mentorship. “I knew of Dr. Rose’s reputation before coming here,” he said. “She has been with the college as vice president, now president, and demonstrates a student centered commitment.”
Looking forward, Renzi will prioritize facilitating the college into a better understanding of the state’s new performance-based funding formula. At the same time, he will focus on college modernization.
“The local community was generous to vote for the bond,” Renzi said. “We want to meet those expectations and serve each community in its intended ways.”