Update – October 22, 2013

on October 22, 2013 in Weekly Update

Good Morning San Jacinto College Community –

I hope all of you are enjoying the great fall weather and the many activities that are going on throughout the college.

TV Coverage of College Activities

We just wrapped up Hispanic Heritage Month. I was very impressed with the multitude of activities and we even got some airtime on Channel 13! Speaking of airtime, we also had a great piece run on the process technology program on Channel 26 just last Thursday! I appreciate all of you who respond when the media calls. They don’t give us much notice, and they want responses quickly or they move on to another college or program, and we definitely don’t want them doing that!

Student Success Initiatives

The semester is busy and we are continuously looking at the best ways to support our students. While we have made progress on the fall to spring retention and fall to fall persistence of our students, we are still losing too many. Just looking at our first time in college students (FTICs), out of 5,524 who started with us fall 2012, we had only 3,096 return in fall 2013, which is 56%. This is an improvement over the year before when 52.8% returned fall 2012, after starting fall 2011. It is true that some of these students may have been here for a one year certificate or other short-term goal, but the vast majority of our students tell us they are seeking a degree. Some do transfer early, but we lose many. We continue to look at ways to engage and connect with our students earlier and more often. I hope you are seeing and hearing about those initiatives. In this update, I will highlight a few of those initiatives as well as other important work happening at the College.

My San Jac GPS                        

GPS stands for Graduation Plan Strategy. This program rolled out in September and is web based.  It allows students to track their progress to their degrees, calculate their GPAs, plan for future semesters, and determine how changing majors will affect expected graduation dates. My San Jac GPS also provides 24/7 online access, real-time advice and counsel, interactive “what if” scenario planning, and more transparent course and credit transfer. My San Jac GPS should be utilized by students under the 2012-2013 catalog and any new, first time in college students (FTICs) for fall 2013 onward. Check out this link www.sanjac.edu/gps or contact the Educational Planning and Counseling Office on any campus.

Financial Aid Streamlining through the Banner Revitalization Project  

How financial aid is processed at San Jacinto College has changed substantially over the past year mostly due to the Banner Revitalization Project. Now applicants are processed more quickly, and more information is posted on the website so that students can see the status of their applications at any time of the day. Students can see missing information and submit the requirements in order to move them through the process. An extensive FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list was compiled to reduce the lines in the office and provide self-service via the telephone. Students can select from a menu to have their most commonly asked questions answered from the FAQ list, or they can connect directly to a Financial Aid Contact Center Agent at any point of the call.

Taskforce Initiatives

Fifth Year Report for SACS

The work for the fifth year report is underway, and a variety of teams are beginning to meet to prepare for the report that is due early in fall 2014. We have learned that the work around accreditation is not done once every 10 years but is a continuous improvement process focused on student success. San Jacinto College has taken this process to heart over the last few years through our data teams, program review, development of student learning outcomes, and assessment activities. We continue to expand these efforts into all aspects of the College, including in Instructional Programs, Administrative Support Programs, and Academic and Support Services. Our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “It’s in the Book,” will also be an important part of the fifth year report.

This past summer I had the opportunity to serve on a SACS review committee, and I learned firsthand how important doing and documenting this work is to the accreditation process. I encourage each of you to take the work seriously and to participate at the appropriate level, depending on your position at the College.

Environmental Health and Safety Smoking and Tobacco Use Taskforce

This taskforce had its first meeting last week, and the members are currently in the exploration phase. The first step is to develop a survey for employees and students which will be distributed at the end of October. We want your feedback so I encourage you to complete the survey. The second step is to gather benchmarking information from other educational institutions and businesses.

I want to clarify that we are in a temporary or interim phase right now. Employees, students, and visitors need to adhere to the current requirements which do NOT allow smoking in buildings or within 50 feet of building entrances. This includes tobacco smoking and e-smoking materials. As part of our interim measures, we have also established designated smoking areas at each campus and at the district office. All of us need to show respect for our fellow colleagues, for city laws, and for college policy. The expectation is that each of us will adhere to this interim policy and procedure.

Trustee Flickinger Receives Trustee of the Year Award

At the beginning of October, six members of the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees attended the Annual Congress held by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). The theme of this year’s conference was “Society Demands, Community Colleges Deliver: Moving the Needle.” The sessions were largely focused on student success and current and future workforce needs. Bill Gates was the keynote speaker. He challenged the attendees to innovate our processes and methods, expand the use of technology, and connect with students in much more meaningful ways.

At the conference, our Trustee Marie Flickinger was recognized as the ACCT 2013 Western Regional Trustee, and she was also selected as the national trustee of the year, receiving the prestigious M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award. This award is presented annually to a community college trustee (there are approximately 6,500 trustees across the country) who has made significant contributions as a lay trustee promoting the community college and the work we are doing for students and communities. Mrs. Flickinger was recognized for her work at and passion for San Jacinto College over the past 18 years and her work at the State level where she chairs the Community College Trustees Association of Texas.

These awards are truly an honor for Mrs. Flickinger and San Jacinto College. In order for employees to share in this honor, a reception will be hosted from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on November 7, 2013, at the Fine Arts Building on South Campus. Following this reception, we will celebrate the grand opening of the South Science Building at 3:30 p.m.

In closing, I want to thank each of you for your commitment to San Jacinto College, our students, and our community. Each day as I read and listen to the news or talk with business leaders about their needs for employees, I am more committed to the mission and vision of San Jacinto College. Each day our work is more important than the day before, as we take an active role in helping and empowering students to achieve their goals. Thank you for your hard work!

Best,

BH

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