Get to Know Your Board President: Gladys Christensen

Rebecca Christensen, Cactus Staff Writer

Lately, I’ve been attending the monthly board meetings at CAC. Partly because of the interesting changes going on in our school, and partly out of my own curiosity on how the decisions get made higher up. During these board meetings, it was difficult not to notice the board president, Mrs. Gladys Christensen. During the meetings, she displayed a sharp wit that caught my curiosity. When I asked some staff and faculty about her, they had nothing but praise for the her. So I decided the next step was to meet with her, and learn more about her and her position as board president

For a woman who describes herself as a little “housewife”, Gladys Christensen has a lot of spunk. She is the current Central Arizona College governing board president, and has been on the governing board since 1983. When Mrs. Christensen first came to Central Arizona College, she worked with CAC as an employee of the Department of Economic Security. Eventually, staff and faculty at CAC encouraged her to run for a position on the board of governors. Much to her surprise and delight, she got elected. “When it was a stouty little housewife that won, it was a shocker to [them],” Mrs. Christensen laughed, remembering when she got elected to the board for the first time. She has been at CAC, shaping the school’s future ever since.

When she was elected in 1983, she came on as an ordinary board member. Thirty-three years later, she’s still running strong. She’s served several terms as board president over the three decades she has been at CAC. As board president, Mrs. Christensen decides when and where board meeting are held and, traditionally, is the outlet for the media. Historically, the board president was the deciding vote in any decision that tied, but now votes alongside the other board members. “The board president is not all that much different than any other member,” she remarked, when I asked her about the duties of board president.

At the most recent board meeting, after a tumultuous last several months, Mrs. Christensen and the board members received an overwhelming amount of support. Current professors, past and present students, and community members came forward to speak about their support for Mrs. Christensen as board president. Chris Gillespie, one of the people who spoke at the Call to the Public at the board meeting, said “I felt compelled to express my support for Gladys Christensen, a person I have known for fifty years. Gladys is a person of integrity and honor. She is extremely intelligent and thoughtful, and her judgement is always founded in facts and common sense.”

Mrs. Christensen is an Arizona native, and has lived in Arizona all her life, having been born in Peoria. After getting married, she lived in Phoenix for a short while, before moving to Coolidge, where she has resided for the last 60 years. Both of her sons went to CAC before moving onto universities, as well as her daughter. However, her children are not the only ones who took classes here; Mrs. Christensen and her husband took the country western dance classes when they were offered several years ago.

When I finished talking with her, I was left with the impression of a woman who was not only kind, but intelligent and capable in her position as board president for CAC. When I first went into the interview, I was just a bit nervous, but by the time I finished talking to her I was just as comfortable in her presence as I could be. As I watched her walk away to her duties as board president, I thought “now there’s a woman capable of defending our school.”document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);