Update – December 15, 2011

on December 15, 2011 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College —

Whew! The fall semester is almost over… a few finals, grades, and graduation left to go, and then all those details that occur in every support area to make sure that we really have a “wrap” on the semester.  I hope your semester has gone well!  And I hope that some of the strategies we’ve been implementing for student success are working and having an impact on your students.

I know our faculty members are always looking for the most effective ways to connect, engage, and teach our diverse student population.  I thank you for being innovative and willing to take a chance on trying something different.  I have been traveling to the campuses, having “Faculty Conversations” over the past few weeks, and I have enjoyed hearing concerns, questions, and ideas from the faculty.  To those of you who have been able to come out and talk, thank you for fitting these sessions into your schedule.  I plan to continue with these causal conversations with all employee groups during the spring semester.

Two significant student success changes for this semester were pay-as-you go and no late registration.  I have heard many positive comments about these two changes. Also, I have heard people comment that the most important part of these changes was that San Jacinto College committed to a new way of doing business and stuck to the deadlines.  As with any significant process change, some people thought we might encounter delays when it got to that moment of implementation.  There were concerns about student complaints or the effect the changes might have on enrollment. However, we demonstrated that these types of substantive changes require a thorough and inclusive planning process, repetitive and effective communication, and then the commitment to follow through.  I appreciate the multiple departments and the many employees who made these changes happen. The implementation of these changes reflects several of our college values, including student success, integrity, excellence, and accountability.

Speaking of our values of integrity and accountability, I want to give you an update on the compensation study. My intentions were to have a clear plan on next steps by now.  I had hoped to provide clarity around what was coming out of the study, how we were going to address those issues, and the impact on individual employees. The reality is we have more work to do on this complex issue; I say “complex” due to the size and scope of what we are trying to address.  The Human Resource Department and the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) have worked diligently over the past months to understand the information and to analyze the details deeply.  On November 29th, we had preliminary discussions with the Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee; and on November 30th, the SLT reviewed our philosophy and guidelines around compensation in order to ensure that each member was operating with the same understanding.  Our Human Resource Department was asked to follow up on  several additional items, and in January we will review that information and continue to develop our plan of action.  It is our intention to have something ready to deploy during the first quarter of 2012.  I want to remind you that we have limited funds set aside in the budget for making adjustments, and the identified need is greater than the available funding. I am confident we are going to be able to make many needed adjustments, and we will be able to align our compensation plans more closely to the external market and reduce internal equity gaps.  I apologize for the delay, but I want to assure you that the Strategic Leadership Team and I are committed to moving forward with the compensation study and to using the data to make adjustments in our compensation structures.

At the monthly Board meeting this past Monday, December 12th, the College’s external and independent auditors  (MFR, P.C.) presented a draft of our comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) and the independent auditor’s reports for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2011.  The audit opinions issued on the College’s financial statements and federal and state assistance programs are unqualified or “clean.”  These are the type of opinions that we want; they indicate that the financial information is reported fairly and there are no material misstatements.  The Board accepted the CAFR; and once the document is bound with the auditor’s final reports, a copy—all 73 pages—will be posted on my blog. Congratulations to the fiscal affairs department for knocking this out before the holiday break!!

Board Chair Marie Flickinger has been busy spreading the word about San Jacinto College.  Ms. Flickinger was a table host at the Greater Houston Partnership’s “Leaders in Education” luncheon.  She spoke about our focus on student success, P-16 pipeline partnerships, and workforce training. Ms. Flickinger was joined by two of our North Campus students, Adam Ortego and Vanessa Hernandez.  Both are majoring in education, and they fielded questions from the luncheon attendees.  They also had the opportunity to meet Andrew Ko, Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation for Microsoft Corporation’s United States education business.  Mr. Ko asked Adam and Vanessa to test a new Microsoft software called “Kinnect,” which allows user interaction, similar to what a Wii would do, but without a device.  The program reads a person’s movement and responds in a simulated environment.  Adam and Vanessa thought this was a great networking opportunity for them, and they were excited to hear about innovations in education that may be used in the classroom by the time they complete their teaching degrees.

I need to provide one more update regarding a Board member.  Trustee Emeritus     J. D. Bruce passed away this week.  Mr. Bruce served on the San Jacinto College Board from 1981 to 2008; prior to that, from 1964 to 1979, he served as Trustee for the Pasadena Independent School District.  The Student Center at the South Campus is named in his honor.  As I spoke with his family, they commented on how much J.D. loved San Jacinto College and how much he enjoyed his time on the Board.

In closing this last update for 2011, I took a few minutes to reflect on several headlines that marked this year:

  • The shooting of Gabby Giffords
  • Osama Bin Laden assassination
  • Youth protests around the world
  • Earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the corresponding nuclear meltdown
  • Strange weather across the U. S.—tornados, earthquake, and hurricane on the east coast, record drought for Texas
  • Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton
  • Japanese soccer team wins the World Cup and restores hope to Japan
  • Death of Steve Jobs
  • Amanda Knox murder conviction overturned
  • “Occupy” movement in America
  • The economy and the job market – is it up or is it down?
  • The New Normal
  • Trouble in the European Union
  • Presidential debates
  • Budget cuts
  • Voluntary Severance and Separation Plan
  • San Jacinto College kicks off the next 50 years

I don’t know what you may think, but what a drama-filled year globally, nationally, regionally, and right here at San Jacinto College.  All of us have been affected by the events of this year; the impacts have been both positive and negative.  As we close out 2011, I am proud and pleased with how we have come together as a college community to address the challenges we face, and I know we will continue to lead, innovate, and create solutions for the tough problems and the many opportunities we will encounter as we move into the New Year.  At San Jacinto College, we have a 50-year history of achieving excellence and creating endless opportunities for our students and communities.  I know we will continue in this same spirit.

As we end this semester and prepare for the break, I wish you all a very Happy Holiday and a prosperous New Year.  This year I went high tech (I’m sure you know that several people in the marketing department did this for me), so let me close with this digital holiday wish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-9MM7-eutY

Have a great break!  Thanks for all that you do for San Jacinto College and our students!

Cheers,

BH

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