In the 1960s during his high school years, when Jack Raubolt and his friends rode their bikes through what was then the Chapman College campus, he had no idea he’d one day be the Vice President of Community Relations for the university.
“Chapman was a curiosity back then, because my parents weren’t college educated,” says Raubolt, who joined the university in January of this year. “My friends and I would ride from Santa Ana, biking through the orange groves and alongside the riverbed; then up through the Plaza and to the college. It was one of our favorite Saturday activities. The area was a lot sleepier back then, and we found it to be a fun adventure.”
Working with Early Computers
Not long after graduating from high school, Raubolt went into the U.S. Army in February 1969 and spent most of his nearly three-year tour in Vietnam, where he worked in military intelligence performing troop reconnaissance, analyzing data from American and Vietnamese agents. During that time he was introduced to computers at a tactical operations center and knew immediately that he’d found his calling.
“When I saw the computers in the center and how it all worked, I thought, this is what I want to do,” says Raubolt, who returned to the U.S. in September 1971 with a Bronze Star for service and was followed three months later by his wife, Hong, who he met in Vietnam and has been married to for 44 years.
As luck would have it, after returning stateside, Raubolt found a job where he could use the skills he’d acquired in the military. “I looked for a position in offset printing, which I’d done prior to entering the service, and found a place in Costa Mesa that did similar work to what the military did in terms of gathering information and compiling it on the computer,” says Raubolt, who soon became the swing shift computer operator, working there for two years before taking a position with the North Orange County Community College District. By 1986, he had become the district’s Chief Information Officer, a position he held until he retired in 2005.
“Technology was changing so rapidly during the 70s, 80s and 90s, it was always exciting to get the latest and greatest technology into place and manage the information systems staff,” says Raubolt, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and a Master of Arts in Organizational Management. “I also found it satisfying to work with state initiatives that concerned the community college system that improved delivery systems to students. For instance, we transitioned students from standing in line all day to register for classes, to registering by telephone and eventually online.”
Information Technology Pioneer
When it came to procuring and implementing the original technology for the North Orange County Community College District, Raubolt’s role was pivotal, points out Michael Johnson, a now retired Professor of Fine Arts in the Media Arts Design department of Cypress College and an Old Towne resident since 1974. He currently works as a digital fine artist from his home studio.
“Jack’s foresight and advice established all of the standards that are still being used today on our campuses,” says Johnson. “That is no small feat when you consider how different and diverse each campus culture is and was. Jack accomplished this by being a solutions and people person who has a genuine interest in whatever project he’s working on. He’s a great listener, who hears both sides and comes up with solutions that will work for everyone.”
Friend and colleague Tom Wallace agrees. “Jack is a visionary leader, who is able to communicate and see the big picture,” says Wallace, who met Raubolt when they both worked for the community college district. “In 1999, Jack led two major district-wide implementation projects—one for a new enterprise information system and the other for a new high speed network. He always puts students first and teaches those who work for him to do the same.”
After retiring from the public education system, Raubolt went into business for himself, opening Raubolt Consulting Services, Inc., which specialized in transitioning and stabilizing business processes and creating protocols. During this time he worked for a variety of educational institutions, including Chapman, where he served in several capacities, including overseeing the startup of the Brandman University Information Technology Department.
Resolving Neighborhood/Student Issues
Raubolt’s current role at Chapman is a new position designed to provide the community with a single point of contact with the university. “My job is to be available to the residents of Orange as we collectively identify solutions to neighborhood issues,” says Raubolt, who strives to listen to all community members. “Students are neighbors to Orange residents and have a right to their living style, but at the same time they need to be good neighbors and follow city ordinances.”
He also notes that most Chapman students aren’t causing issues in the City. “Many students are participating in positive activities around town—from tutoring in the local schools, to participating in community events, to working on clean up the neighborhood days,” says Raubolt, who will be moving into Old Towne this coming summer.
Randy Burba is Chief of Public Safety for Chapman University and an Orange resident. He comments on Raubolt’s contribution to the university and community so far. “I think that Jack is the right person for the job and will be successful in resolving issues and relieving tensions between the community and students,” says Burba. “He has the unique ability to unite people and get to the root of problems so they can be resolved. When he worked as a consultant for the university, he oversaw the operational startup of the Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus. The startup went seamlessly, because of Jack’s agility at dealing with the different constituencies and managing the many factors.”
Chapman Open to the Community
Raubolt also works to get the word out about how Chapman offers the community the opportunity to experience a wide variety of events and performances, including at the school’s new Musco Center for the Arts. “Chapman is a jewel in the middle of Orange and should be appreciated for what it is and what it does for the community,” believes Raubolt. “This takes everyone understanding what we have here and working together to make Orange the absolute best community.”
For more information about the progress being made between Chapman University and the Old Towne community, visit www.neighborsofchapman.com. The Neighborhood Advisory Committee, which contains members from throughout the community, holds regular meetings. The above website features minutes from those meetings. •