Weekly Update – January 10, 2010

on January 10, 2010 in Weekly Update

Good morning and here’s to a wonderful and blessed 2010!!

 The first week in the new decade started out busy (just the way 2009 ended) and with a lot of excitement. As I reflect on the happenings of the week, they are best described by the term “economic development.”

 On Tuesday, Congressman Pete Olson hosted several legislators and leaders from the petrochemical and energy industry at our Central Campus. The focus of the event was on the proposed “cap and trade” legislation under consideration at the Federal level. Industry leaders explained their concerns regarding this legislation and the potential negative impact on jobs in this area and across the country if this legislation is passed. On Thursday, I attended a round table hosted by the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region regarding fees being imposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. These fees, amounting to $125 million annually for the Gulf Coast Region, will be imposed in 2010 retroactively against omissions from 2008 and 2009; thus industry cannot implement strategies to operationally impact the imposed fees. Additioanlly, the requirements lack clarity in how the fees will be spent to improve the environment in the Gulf Coast area.  At each meeting, the industry leaders stressed their commitment to environmental concerns including their focus to improve air quality. The takeaway from both of these roundtables is that these industry leaders are concerned about their ability to compete on a global basis and consequently, what jobs will be lost in this region if these fees are imposed. I left these sessions realizing that I need more information on these issues (for example, I didn’t realize that there are 30,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs in this region associated with this industry). I encourage you to research the issues and stay informed. 

 My other economic development activities involved participating in the final interviews for a new president at the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce, and several meetings on the International Maritime and Energy Center.  This project is still not clearly defined, but we continue to make progress. The greatest progress was made at the end of December when we were notified that San Jacinto College was approved and the President signed two federal appropriations. The first is $400,000 (supported by Gene Green) for the maritime program, and the second is $350,000 for incumbent worker training (supported by Pete Olson). These federal appropriations are the first in San Jac history!

 On Wednesday, the Strategic Leadership Team met, and our main focus was to outline a plan for identifying faculty positions needed for fiscal year 2010-2011. We agreed to the general parameters and supporting data required to ensure that recommendations are based on a consistent process across the college. Department chairs, deans, and vice presidents will be busy pulling together the appropriate information, and the SLT will be meeting on January 20th to make decisions in order for the faculty positions to be advertised by the end of the month. I know the timing of our faculty hiring process has been a concern in the past, and the SLT is committed to putting San Jacinto College in a more competitive position. Speaking about hiring processes, you will see several changes in the Human Resource Department (HR) over the next few months. Under the leadership of Steve Trnack and the support of the SLT, a two year plan has been developed to focus on the infrastructure around our HR processes and helping the College move from a more tactical to strategic approach in managing our human capital, our most important asset. Several positions will be added in this area and nearly all current positions will be redefined. Costs associated with this transition plan were estimated during the 2009-2010 budgeting process.  As we continue to move through this transition, we will also develop delivery and service level metrics.

 The Board Finance Committee met on Thursday and reviewed the HR transition plan, the TACC (Texas Association of Community College) tuition and fee survey, and a Head Start contract that will be considered at the Board of Trustees meeting later this month. This contract will authorize a Head Start program to be implemented at the North Campus’ Child Care Center beginning August 1, 2010. This is an exciting community partnership and program for our youth in the North Channel area.

 On Saturday, I attended the Career and Education Day sponsored by the Houston Hispanic Forum at the George R. Brown Convention Center. San Jacinto College had a large booth staffed by many energetic employees from the student services area plus several of our shared high school counselors escorted high school students. The opening ceremonies included federal, state and local politicians, but the highlight of the session was Jose Joya, a student ambassador from Houston ISD.  He spoke of living at home where the only language spoken is Spanish, but his father’s words (translated) encourage Jose to “study so you can be someone — education is the key to success but it takes persistence and determination.”  Jose’s two older brothers have not paid attention to their father’s words, but Jose wants to be a role model for his younger siblings, his peers, and his community.  What an inspiration!! And we know that story rings true for many of the youth in our service area, but each of you can make a difference in their future. 

 Welcome back for the spring semester!!  I am encouraged by the preliminary enrollment numbers, and I am anxious to see the retention numbers from the fall (i.e. those students from the fall who have enrolled for the spring).  That information will be available by mid-February (after the census date).

 Have a great week!!


 P.S.  If you haven’t RSVP’d for the Houston Symphony event on January 22nd, please do so by Thursday (January 14th). The numbers are looking good, and I am hearing a lot of excitement about the event. The Promise for the Future scholarship campaign that will kick-off at the event has already raised $65,000!! Take a look at the link on our San Jac wbsite.

3 Responses to “Weekly Update – January 10, 2010”

  1. martin wnuk says:

    There is no doubt that the petro-chemical industry is an important, even crucial element in the Houston economy. But the statement they made about jobs seems like a thinly-veiled threat, “If you support cap and trade we’ll just cut employment here.”

    The industry recently recorded historical profits yet they did not INCREASE employment in the area.

    As I said, nobody is questioning how important the oil and related industries are to the area but i think we also need to hear the other side of the argument.

  2. Jan Crenshaw says:

    Reading about an increase of veteran enrollment makes me wonder if we will also see a concommitant increase in disabled students.

    • Brenda Hellyer says:

      Thank you for your comment Jan. Interestingly, SJC recently went through an accessibility audit sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Office of Civil Rights. Through that audit, we found that we are in compliance but revealed a few items that either required correction or were suggested as correctable for convenience.

      Through our facilities (maintenance) department, all of the items have either been addressed already or are in a plan to be addressed in the next 12 months.

      As you noted, with so many of our men and women returning from combat, colleges across the country are seeing an increase in U.S. Veteran’s returning to the classroom. We are prepared to be here for them and to help them reach their educational goals. I am very proud that San Jacinto College is in the top 15 percent of the nation’s colleges, universities and trade schools on the 2010 Military Friendly School list.