Update – April 7, 2016

on April 7, 2016 in Weekly Update

Good Afternoon San Jacinto College Community,

I hope you are loving this wonderful weather!  It’s hard not to have spring fever right now. I also know what a busy time this is for all of us and for our students, but there are four important items I wanted to address at this time: Golf Course Closure, Tuition and Fee Changes for Fall 2016, Mandatory Password Changes, and Pathways Work.

Golf Course Closure:

Effective December 15, 2016, the San Jacinto College golf course located at the Central Campus will permanently close. Three full-time employees and five part-time employees support the operations, and they have been notified of the closure and a transition plan is in place for them.

Over the past several years, we have taken many steps to reduce operating costs of the golf course. But golf play continues to decline and does not cover operating costs. We anticipate this trend will continue, and we are not alone in seeing this trend.  Many golf courses in the Houston region, as well as nationally, have struggled to stay open due to reduced play.  While this is a difficult decision because of the long history of our course, we realize that the golf course is not part of our core education and workforce mission.  We are currently conducting a master plan study of the Central Campus and exploring options for development of the golf course land in order to meet the expanding education and workforce needs of our students and the region.

Tuition & Fee Changes for Fall 2016:

On Monday evening (April 4, 2016), the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees approved a tuition and general service fee increase for fall 2016. Additionally, we put in place differential course fees to assist with reductions in and shortfalls from state funding.  The Board also approved increasing the exemption for dual credit and early college high school students from 70% to 75%.

If you want to review details, I attached the board action item and supporting documents, but a summary of the changes are provided below:

  • $3 per semester credit hour (SCH) increase in the in-district tuition rate (from $47 to $50)
  • $6 per SCH increase in the out-of-district tuition rate (from $89 to $95)
  • $11 per SCH increase in the non-resident tuition rate (from $149 to $160)
  • $10 per semester increase in the general service fee (from $140 to $150)
  • Course fees ranging from $2 per credit hour to $7 per credit hour

These changes will be in place when fall registration opens this month. Even with the changes, the cost of attending San Jacinto College is in the low- to mid-range for Gulf Coast community colleges and is still approximately one-third of the cost of a university.  The additional revenue projections will be included in the 2016-2017 budget development process.  This will help us to address already-identified needs and needs that will be identified in our annual goals established during the strategic planning process.  This includes balancing additional operating and personnel costs.

Mandatory Password Changes:

On April 20, 2016, all San Jacinto College employees will be asked to set up a new password to access College computer accounts and the College’s network.  The reason we are introducing a new password process is to improve security and protect the College’s computer systems from unauthorized access through email phishing. Passwords for Banner, Success Factors, and SOAR will not be affected by the change at this time. ITS will be sending further communication over the next few days to help prepare and support us through this process. Again, this will be a mandatory change, and each of us must plan ahead to address the requirements. Not changing your password during the timeframe will lock you out of the system.

Pathways Work:

The College’s work related to Pathways continues.  Next week, a team will be going to the second institute required by the American Association of Community Colleges.  The prep work for this institute asked us to look at credentials awarded, credit hours earned by students in each of our programs, and certificate and degree pathway maps. We were then asked to review specific programs to understand constraints around prerequisites, stacking of coursework, and scheduling. You will hear more about this institute when the team returns.

Additionally, two of our trustees attended the Board of Trustees Institute (BOTI) over the week-end, and they were asked to review several metrics from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  One of those metrics is the average number of hours earned by our graduates.  This number varies from 92 to 94 to 95 for our three campuses and does not include college preparatory hours (developmental education).  We are analyzing the components of this number, but the basic question is “What is causing the excess hours when most of our degrees require 60 credit hours?”

At each BOTI, the trustees complete a call to action.  Chair Dan Mims and Trustee Ruede Wheeler provided updates on the BOTI and next steps at the Board meeting April 4, 2016.  In summary, they reiterated their commitment to student success and thanked the College community for their past commitment to student success and quality. They emphasized that our goal is to move students from entry to completion in a shorter amount of time with fewer hours and less cost to the student, while increasing the overall completion rate and maintaining rigor and high standards.  Our students must be provided with the necessary guidance and support from entry through completion.  Advising is a critical component that begins at entry to get students on the correct pathways and continues throughout the students’ educational journey to ensure they are moving steadily along the path to completion. Successful completion is the goal.

After College Community Day in February, many of you asked about our next steps in this Pathways development.  Many expressed support of the concept and asked how you could help and what did this mean for your jobs and areas of responsibility.  As we move forward, you will hear more and more about defining student pathways and how each us supports student progress and completion.  We don’t know all of the changes at this time.  That is for us to figure out together, so it is important that you keep an open mind and put the student at the center of your discussions and planning.  We know that each of us plays an important role in supporting students along the pathway.  Now it is our job to refine our work to enhance and strengthen that support for students.  San Jacinto College’s open door means broad access to education for students who arrive underprepared academically and with many life challenges.  We are here to help them achieve their dreams of a better life through education, and they cannot do that without intentional support structures in place all along the pathway.

Best,

BH

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