Weekly Update – September 20, 2009

on September 20, 2009 in Weekly Update

Hope you are enjoying that September weather and maybe some football since the season is underway!!   If you listened to the Texans’ game on the radio today, you heard many commercials for San Jacinto College.

The week began with the September Board of Trustees Meeting.  The agenda and back-up of each meeting are posted on the college’s website on the Friday prior to the meeting.  If you have a few moments, review this information.  It is another avenue for employees to gain an understanding of college activities and issues.   You will find that many of the actions are finance and construction related, but you will also see the Board’s focus on the college’s Student Success agenda, with a portion of the meeting dedicated to presentations around this area.      

On Monday evening, several faculty members from the College Preparatory division presented on the redesign of college preparatory math.  This course redesign project is allowing each campus to pilot and measure new approaches using instructional technology and reconceptualizing instructional practices.  Additionally, the team is looking at diagnostic pre- and post-testing and modules that target specific knowledge gaps.  The pilots will continue through this semester and the spring semester, with a larger implementation in fall 2010.  We will assess the redesign strategies and build on those which have proved to create successful learning environments. Let me put the significance of College Preparatory in terms of numbers.  Did you know that 68 to 70 percent of First Time In College (FTIC) students need at least one developmental education course — usually math? Did you realize that for fall 2009, the College has 464 sections of college prep courses of which 242 are math sections?  This translates into 10,423 students in college prep courses and 6,124 in college prep math. Our challenge at San Jacinto College (SJC) is how best to move these students through the college prep division so that they can continue in achieving their post secondary educational goals (i.e. an associate’s degree, a certificate, a course that they need for job advancement).  The success of these students is critical to our institution and our community.  SJC must commit to doing things differently and must invest resources to this area. We can no longer nibble on the fringes but must take the “big bite.”

Also, at the Board meeting, the Trustees approved a public service plan presented by the Safety Office to offer regular seasonal flu vaccinations to employees at no charge (family members and students are $20 each).  The flu vaccinations will kick off this next week, and the Safety Office has emailed where and when they will be available. I encourage you to take advantage of this benefit.  But remember these key points from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department:

 Vaccinations are an important tool, but not the only tool in protection from the flu.  Washing your hands frequently, sneezing or coughing into your sleeve or a tissue, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, avoiding close contact with sick people and staying home if you are sick

Also remember, at this point, there is no vaccine for the H1N1 virus, but we will continue to monitor when the vaccination will be available and where.

Annual Priority #3

Organizational Alignment and Development: Building organizational capacity and capability

This week I will get us started on the third annual priority but will conclude it next week. There are four sections of this priority with the first focused on improving the alignment of our leadership and communication structures.

As much of the college has been reorganized into a one-college model, it is now time to review our structure to determine what is working well and what areas may need further refinement or definition. This does not mean starting over or changing structures, but rather we will review our roles and responsibilities and give clarity to areas of responsibility, accountability, and authority. 

Also included in this section is the objective of defining how the governance structure of the College works.  Of course, the Board of Trustees is the governance authority of the College. The Texas Education Code states several responsibilities for the Board of Trustees including the following: preserve institutional independence, provide the policy direction of the institution, and establish goals consistent with the role and mission of the institution. At SJC, I would like to further define how our employee groups fit into a participatory governance structure, how we work together, and how we can provide clarity around the mission and purpose of these groups.

Similarly, there are many committees, councils, and task forces doing work throughout the organization. These teams serve in numerous capacities, but we must ensure that we are clear on their purpose, objectives, roles, and responsibilities. As part of this priority, we will take a fresh look and establish charters for clarity.

Finally, under this section we are also looking at the alignment of planning and implementation processes throughout the College. One of the first steps in accomplishing this is to get our hands around the various components that impact our college-wide calendar and activities. There are many moving parts with multiple deadlines, and each activity has a ripple effect into various other levels of the organization. The Operational Process Task Force has been formed and is beginning to work on understanding the pieces, and they plan to produce a college-wide calendar that eliminates the conflicts and inconsistencies. 

As with so much of what we do, strong communications are the critical link in understanding how each of the pieces fits into the overall picture, the college-wide structure, and the one-college concept. As we work through each activity under this section, communication plans will be rolled out to ensure that those affected are kept informed and are included for input. 

Next week, you will read more about priority #3. In closing for this week, I hope you are all getting settled into the semester and I wish you all continued success throughout the semester.



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