Weekly Update – September 13, 2009

on September 13, 2009 in Weekly Update

For only being a four day work week, it sure was jam packed. The best parts of the week were the groundbreaking celebrations of the child care centers on North and Central campuses. The highlight of these ceremonies was the three and four year olds that joined us with shovels and hard hats. The construction time on these facilities is around nine to ten months so by this time next year we will be moving into our first new buildings since the 1999 bond program construction.

Speaking of construction on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees Building Committee met. At this meeting, we reviewed the procurement methods that will be used for infrastructure projects required at Central and South campuses and for a comprehensive facility way-finding, informational, and regulatory signage upgrade project for the entire College. These projects are the next to get underway in the 2008 bond program. Additionally, the emergency contract estimated at $138,000 for the parking lot construction at South campus was reviewed. This 400-car lot should be completed in just a few days and is needed due to enrollment growth. It is anticipated that these recommendations will be approved at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday evening (September 14th).

Also on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees Finance Committee met with a lengthy agenda including several action items that will be presented to the Board of Trustees on the 14th. The meeting began with a review of the internal audit department’s examinations conducted last fiscal year and the proposed audit plan for fiscal year 2009-2010. Last year’s work reported several areas in which management’s internal control objectives are being met.  However, in other areas internal controls can be strengthened. Accordingly, many suggested improvements have been implemented or are underway. While the audit department makes observations and recommendations, it is up to leadership to implement those recommendations.  The internal audit department is a small group with only two auditors, but they strive to add value to the College operations. They do not function in a “gotcha” role, but rather in a continuous improvement role in order to enhance accountability, improve efficiency, reduce the opportunities for fraud, protect the College’s assets, and improve service delivery to students and employees.  

Last week I started a series of highlighting our annual priorities. We are now into week #2 of the annual priority highlight:

Student Success and Enhanced Learning: Provide programs and services to students that increase the opportunity for success.

While community colleges have a rich history of being committed to access and affordability, our future requires that we are committed to access, affordability, and student success. Not only must San Jacinto College (SJC) attract more students who dream of a post secondary education, but we must, as never before, focus on students achieving those dreams. We take those students from whatever point they are, and we do all that we can do to help them succeed in their post secondary education. Measuring student success is sometimes difficult to get our arms around as there are multiple measures.  Our focus on student success emphasizes student retention. This, student retention, in its simplest form means that a student completes the current term in which he/she is enrolled.

This measure leads directly to our “Just One More” campaign —“What would happen to our retention rates if we prevented just one more student in every class section from withdrawing?”  Each employee must ask, “What is my role in student success? How can I help a student complete what he/she has started?” I firmly believe that our dedicated faculty members, counselors, and staff members who take the time to interact with students may in a single conversation, have the power to change a life

Through our focus on student success, we currently have numerous initiatives operating such as mandatory orientation, prerequisite tracking, a retention calling program, learning communities, math and writing labs, our QEP, student success centers, and many other interventions. We know that many students require those interventions but they also need that individual attention. As part of our focus on the Student Success and Enhanced Learning priority, we will be reviewing data and having courageous conversations around what it is telling us.  For example, I saw a report this past week that shows a significant attrition rate in non-completing career and technical education students.  While we are in-line with the State average, I have to ask the question if that is good enough? Our first step is in understanding how the data is formulated; then we will move into understanding why this is an important measure to review, what is happening with it over a period of time, and what  it tell us about strategies for the future.

Since our inception in 1961, San Jacinto College has always focused on excellent teaching and learning. Our focus on improving student success must be accomplished without sacrificing the quality and excellent instruction in which we rightfully pride ourselves.  Lowering our standards is not an option; rather we must enable students to become focused, confident, and independent learners.

This ideal is captured in one of our College values. Student Success: Our Ultimate Measure – we enable students to achieve their goals.  The only way we can achieve this goal is by each one of us focusing on keeping students enrolled.

With that, it is time to close; I hope you have a great week!



P.S. Remember the Bill Bailey Gumbo benefitting the San Jacinto College Foundation!!  The event is Tuesday evening (September 15th) from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center.  Tickets are $10.  Dress casual, eat some delicious gumbo, listen & dance to great music, and help students with scholarship dollars!! The official program is at 7:00 p.m. with three SJCF scholarship recipients highlighting how SJC is making a difference for them.  Hope to see you there!

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