Update – October 31, 2011

on October 31, 2011 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

For all of you who have been eagerly awaiting the fall season, I think it has arrived!! I attended the South Campus Fall Festival and 50th Anniversary Celebration Friday evening, and it was quite chilly while we were outside playing some of the games and taking the hay ride! There was plenty of excitement in the air, especially with all the kids and a few adults dressed in their scary, cute, or strange costumes!  My favorites were the Chinese dragon dancers and the tribute to Dr. Parker Williams, the college’s first librarian and the first president of South Campus.

I have been back in the cycle of weekly trips to Austin.  I just completed two trips and have two more to go.  The first was to attend a forum on higher education led by the Texas Association of Business.  The forum was “Reforming Higher Education: A Prerequisite for Prosperity,” and the discussions focused on what is needed to close skills and education gaps in the United States and Texas, specifically around transforming remedial education, retaining students, increasing the numbers of earned degrees and certificates, and decreasing the time for students to earn credentials.  The discussions were passionate, and we reviewed reports from a variety of data sources. The speakers for the day included state legislators and representatives from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, various non-profit organizations, community colleges, and universities. Stan Jones, President of Complete College America, was one of the presenters, and here are a few highlights from his presentation:

1.      Of 100 students who enroll in a 2-year public college, only seven will graduate in four years (five of those are full-time students and two are part-time students).
2.      By 2020, 60% of the jobs will require a career certificate or college degree.
3.      Only 31% of Texas adults currently hold an associate’s degree or higher.
4.      The skills gap is estimated at 29%. (The skills gap represents the percentage of workers who have the skills required to meet the needs of employers).

During this presentation, three-year graduation rates for all community colleges in Texas were provided to the audience. The rates ranged from a high of 34% at Western Texas College and a low of 3% at San Antonio College (part of the Alamo Community College District). San Jacinto College was listed as 10%, based on the U.S. Department of Education IPEDS data (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), which is for first-time, full-time students completing certificates or degrees within 150% of normal program time. We know that this IPEDS data doesn’t reflect the majority of our students (currently 63% are part-time), but it does reflect a data source used often by interested parties. The methods for data collection need improvement, but this is what is currently used by national organizations.
Complete College America (CCA) was established in 2009 and is a national non-profit working to dramatically increase the number of Americans with a college degree or credential of value and to close attainment gaps for traditionally under-represented populations. CCA focuses on state-level policy change and works to build consensus for change among state leaders, higher education, and the national education policy community.

Texas is participating in CCA through an Innovation Challenge Grant submitted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) at the direction of the Governor’s Office.  The goal of the Texas proposal is to reduce time to degree by allowing students to fulfill remediation requirements while receiving college credit for mathematics within a single semester.  The instructional model is based on an Intensive Summer Bridge pilot program at Texas State University developed by Dr. Selina Vasquez Mireles. Fifteen community colleges have been selected to participate in this project, and San Jacinto College is one of the participants as an extension of our work in the THECB’s Developmental Education Demonstration Project (DEDP).  We are in our second year of the DEDP, and this work will continue to build on what has been developed.

The second meeting in Austin was multi-purposed and included the quarterly meeting of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), which represents the 50 Texas community colleges; dinner with several THECB board members and administrators; and the quarterly meeting of THECB.  At the TACC meeting, we spent much of our time on strategic planning in order to begin the planning process for the next legislative session. The dinner with THECB board members and administrators was sponsored by TACC.  Several of the board members are new, and we spent time talking about the role, size, and impact of community colleges and how we can work more closely with THECB to collaborate and develop solutions.  I was impressed with their understanding of our successes and challenges, and their desire to learn more about us.

At the THECB quarterly meeting Thursday, two items were approved which will have a significant impact on community colleges.  The first is amendments to the core curriculum, transfer of credit, and field of study curricula. The intent of the amendments is to update and change the requirements for the statewide, fully transferable, undergraduate general education core curriculum. The amendments limit the core to 42 semester credit hours (SCH) and eliminate the option of institutions requesting a core curriculum of more than 42 SCH.  A task force at San Jacinto College has been working on the impact of these changes, including revisions regarding assessment and reporting of core curriculum objectives. With the approval of these amendments, our task force can now complete their recommendations on core curriculum and degree structures, which will be sent out for full faculty review in early November.  The task force will then incorporate feedback and forward recommendations to the Strategic Leadership Team by December, with implementation planned for fall 2012.

The second major item affecting community colleges is the approval of the recommendations regarding the vaccination of bacterial meningitis. Our entering students will be required to have a bacterial meningitis or booster dose during the five-year period preceding their enrollment or within ten days of the start of the semester in which they initially enroll. The following exceptions were approved, thus eliminating the requirement for a student to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis or evidence of receiving a booster dose, if:

  1. the student is 30 years of age or older (by the first day of the start of the semester); or
  2. the student is enrolled only in online or other distance education courses; or
  3. the student is enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours, or continuing education corporate training; or
  4. the student is enrolled in a dual credit course which is taught at a public or private K-12 facility not located on a higher education institution campus; or
  5. the student is incarcerated in a Texas prison.

We at San Jacinto College have been working through the requirements and the implementation plan for this new mandate.  We will finalize our plan (since implementation is required for spring 2012, we are on a fast track) and get details to you and our incoming students in the near future.  I am glad to see the exceptions approved; they will help greatly with the implementation plan and the impact on students.  I also want to thank many of you for sending comments to THECB on these two actions. Your comments were effective, especially concerning the bacterial meningitis vaccination. The task force working on this has created a website with information about this requirement. I encourage you to review this site so you are informed about this new requirement.  Here is the website: www.sanjac.edu/meningitis

We ended last week with Staff Community Day, with all staff members participating in a half-day session titled “Love, Peace, & Fifty Years.” The theme and the agenda were developed by the officers of the Staff Organization. The presentations emphasized our four strategic goals (Student Success, P-16 Pipeline, Workforce & Economic Development, and Our People), how all employees have a role in student success, and how to manage change.  Shelley Rinehart, Director of Educational Planning and Counseling at South Campus, provided the keynote address based on the best-seller book Who Moved My Cheese?  If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it as a quick read; it provides some eye-opening examples of how to respond and not respond to change.  You can view the presentations from the day here (these presentations may take a few minutes to download…please be patient)

·        Staff Community Day BH 10-28-11
·        Fac Const Staff Comm Day 2011
·        CPD – Staff Community Day 2011
·        How to Navigate the Website Part 1
·        Staff organization EVP presentation 10.20.11 rev1
·      Who Moved My Cheese 2011 Staff Community Day

In my last update, I mentioned that the Organizational Wellness Inventory (OWI) would open Tuesday, October 25th.  That occurred, and you should have received information from your leader that explains the purpose of the OWI, provides a link to the OWI website, and your access code.  If you have not received this information, please contact your leader or Susan Temple at susan.temple@sjcd.edu.  I am asking that every full-time employee complete this survey.  It is important to the success of the College that all employees participate in this survey because leaders can only make meaningful change when they have input from all employees. Remember that the OWI closes November 7th, so if you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do so.
We have had several questions about the OWI and about the confidentiality and anonymity of the OWI, so let me speak to these questions.

1.      The OWI assesses the health or wellness of the overall College.  In other words, we are soliciting information about our work environment in terms of 10 dimensions. Those dimensions are trust, learning, gratification, language, ownership, energy, change, interaction, creativity, and communication. This survey does not assess the abilities of our leaders or our employees.  OWI assesses the organization around such questions as “Is effective communication occurring? Are employees having opportunities to learn new things? Are we doing OK with all the changes that are taking place?”  We must know what strengths we have and what challenges we are facing in each of the 10 dimensions if we are going to be successful at navigating the “New Normal.”  You are our compass for moving forward. We must have your input to chart our course.

2.      We have also received some questions regarding whether or not the OWI is anonymous and confidential.  The answer to both is yes.  Each employee has complete control over how much information he or she is comfortable sharing.  Total anonymity is an option for all employees.  College leaders decided that we wanted to include the ability for employees to remain totally anonymous because we want all employees to be confident that they can provide honest answers to the survey questions.  For employees who are concerned about confidentiality or retaliation, I recommend they select the total anonymity option.  My goal is to get input from every full-time employee; I am not concerned with knowing who said what.  Here is how the OWI system ensures that the employee is able to maintain the level of anonymity he or she desires:
For each survey that is submitted, the system administrators can only see the overall scores for each of the 10 dimensions; system administrators cannot see how the employee responded to a specific question.

  • If an employee does not choose to enter his or her name or any demographic information, no one will be able to determine who the respondent is. The employee will have total anonymity.
  • If an employee chooses to enter his or her name, system administrators will be able to see the overall scores attached to the employee’s name.
  • Employees can opt out of providing demographic information by selecting the “Not Indicated” option.  If an employee chooses to enter his or her demographic information but not his or her name, potentially a system administrator might think he or she could deduce who matches that profile, but that person would probably be wrong.  Multiple people could match any demographic profile. Personally, I would not give any credence to these types of assumptions.

3.      Regarding confidentiality, if an employee chooses to enter his or her name, the system administrator will see the employee’s overall scores; however, the system administrator is expected to maintain the employee’s confidentiality.  The system administrator will not disclose a person’s overall ratings to others and should not ask you to explain your scores.  If an employee believes confidentiality has been compromised, he or she should contact Susan Temple immediately.

4.      There have also been questions about whether or not the survey results will be shared; the answer is yes. The 2010 survey was for the purpose of establishing a baseline; therefore, the results were not shared.  However, as I said in my previous update, I intend to share the results from this survey at College Community Day on February 23, 2012.
It is time to close on this update. Hope you enjoy Halloween today and have a great week!



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