On August 22, 2016, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges lost one of its former leaders when Leon Baradat, ASCCC President in 1978-1979 and ASCCC senator emeritus, passed away.
Of French descent and a product of the Central Valley, Leon attended Tulare public schools. He played football in high school, served in the Marine Reserves, graduated with an associate degree from College of Sequoias, and completed both baccalaureate and master's degrees at Cal State, Fresno. In 1965, Leon married his adored and adoring wife Elaine Cote, herself a Visalia native. The two of them embarked on what would become a 51-year partnership.
After several years teaching at the high school level, the Leon and Elaine came in 1970 to North San Diego County's MiraCosta College. For more than thirty years including summers, Leon would serve students and colleagues. In addition to becoming the first published author at the college, Leon excelled at teaching political science classes, headed California faculty groups statewide, served on the Accrediting Commission of the Western Association of Schools and College, and even joined the political fray by becoming a member of the Palomar College Board of Trustees.
Serving students was Leon's calling. His students, whom he always called by their surnames, saw him as one of the tough ones, yet they appreciated his dazzling lectures and passion for his discipline, so much so that they bestowed upon him the second Teacher of the Year Award ever bestowed at MiraCosta. As one B-student wrote in Rate My Professor, "You really have to work for your grade, but he will stop the world to help you. He's truly a helluva guy." Leon felt inordinate pride in making political science majors out of some students and making good citizens out of others. Everyone learned from him the importance of staying informed of the day’s vital issues and of casting their own sacred votes.
Leon, always an activist, dedicated his life to heightening the visibility of the California Community Colleges, to professionalizing their faculty, and to raising academic standards in course and graduation requirements. A founding father of the statewide Academic Senate, Leon served as its president in those early days when the organization was fighting to become the faculty voice of academic standards and educational policy at local colleges and across the state. His influential blue pamphlet on collegiality was read throughout California; it promoted faculty primacy in academic and professional matters, a concept which came to be called shared governance.
Leon was indefatigable in this campaign. He traveled widely and testified regularly in Sacramento to add the faculty perspective to those of trustees and administrators. Later, he would capture the presidency of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. With members from campuses across California, FACCC and the Academic Senate under Leon's leadership helped strengthen the place of faculty in the State Capitol and at the State Chancellor’s Office.
After fifty years as a teacher and as he lay dying, Professor Baradat acknowledged his personal debt to the people of California “for providing an excellent and free public educational system” of which he was able to take advantage. Though no longer free, that educational system remains a valuable gift that keeps on giving to individuals, their families, and their state, in part thanks to his efforts.
Mourning his loss are Leon's immediate family: Elaine, son Leon Pierre and wife Sarah plus grandchildren Laura and David, son René Anicet and partner Renée, and brothers Armand, Raymond and Daniel, as well as his extended family in France.