Weekly Update – February 13, 2011

on February 13, 2011 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

Okay, last week, I asked if anyone had played in a Super Bowl Game or if anyone had attended a Super Bowl Game.  Well, I couldn’t locate anyone here at San Jacinto College who had played in a Super Bowl Game, but I did get six responses about attending a Super Bowl Game:

          *Three people attended Super Bowl Games (ranging from 1977 to 2002 and 2004).

          *One person’s 17-year-old brother was part of the half-time show when the Super Bowl was held in Houston.

          *One person did not attend a Super Bowl, but back in 1978 while working at a hotel, he drove Gale Sayers’s assistant to a Southern Illinois University game. For his services, he got a sideline pass to the game and met Gale (formerly of the Chicago Bears) at the game, and he also met Wade Phillips in 1986. 

          *While one person hadn’t been to a Super Bowl Game, she had attended two Olympic Games.  

Interesting responses – don’t you think?

On Monday of last week, we held our February Board meeting. Much of our work was fairly standard, except the Board of Trustees approved an election order. This action is required since the College will be conducting an election May 14, 2011, for three trustee positions. Our Board members serve six-year terms, and the College holds an election in the odd years to fill the open positions. Normally, we would have two open positions because the election periods are staggered; thus, for this year the incumbents, Dr. Ruede Wheeler and Mr. Ben Meador, are up for re-election. Additionally for this year, we have a third position on the ballot, which is due to the retirement of Mr. Wayne Slovacek. Members of the college’s taxing district (our six area school districts: Channelview, Deer Park, Galena Park, La Porte, Pasadena, and Sheldon) can file to be included on the ballot, beginning tomorrow through March 14th. In order to control election costs (which are nearly $100,000) to the degree possible and to ensure that we reach our broad community for voting opportunities, the College will hold our election and polling sites with our area school districts.

Trustees for community colleges in Texas receive no compensation for their services—it is 100 percent voluntary. Our San Jacinto College trustees are very active at state and national levels. Their support and their willingness to get out and speak with our legislators are critical, especially during times of uncertainty, which is what we are experiencing right now in Austin.  Our trustees have made sure that our legislators hear concerns about the impact of the State budget on San Jacinto College, our students, and our employees. And today, I traveled with two of our trustees to Washington, D. C., to gain a better understanding of issues at the federal level and, again, to ensure that we communicate concerns to our senators and representatives. Hearing from a trustee makes a significant impact on our legislators, and I thank our trustees for their dedication to getting the message out.

Speaking of Austin, on Tuesday of last week, the Senate Finance Committee heard testimonies related to community colleges. It was a long day with quite a bit of time waiting and listening to other budget testimonies. While I heard a great deal of support for community colleges and the work that we are doing, I did not hear many positive comments (if any) about the budget situation and funding. I heard many discussions around accountability. While several college presidents testified, the Committee seemed to really pay attention to the trustee from Alamo Community College.  He discussed the level of service reductions that would need to occur at Alamo in order to accommodate the budget reductions being considered, in light of the recent enrollment growth. His focus was on the impact to his community and future generations. The final testimony came from Fred Newbury, who is president of the Texas Community College Teachers Association. He agreed with the prior testimonies made on behalf of community colleges. He concluded with a statement regarding the important discussions regarding retention and engagement that are happening in the classroom. Basically, no new news to report from Austin except that I am realizing that I need to increase my workouts in order to handle those extra long flights of stairs!

Because I was in Austin for several days, I had to miss the Achieving the Dream (AtD) Strategy Institute, but we did send a broad group of representatives to present what we are doing at San Jacinto College, to hear from other colleges on their progress, and to discuss our next steps. The Strategy Institute brings together all the colleges involved in the AtD Student Success agenda.  National and regional leaders hold plenary sessions to give overviews on activities within federal agencies, such as the departments of Education and Labor, and on how AtD colleges are doing across the country; and college members lead break-out sessions on topics such as course re-design, accelerated learning opportunities, student support services, and institutional research.  Several of our folks made presentations, and all were well received. It also provided a time for the group to meet with our coaches, Drs. Byron McClenney and Brad Phillips, to discuss where we are in our work on student success. The Institute was held in Indianapolis, and some of the time, the temperatures were below zero! We certainly sent a dedicated group!

Remember, Tuesday, February 15th is College Community Day. All full-time employees will meet at the Pasadena Convention Center. Our program will kick off promptly at 9:00 a.m.

In closing, I leave you with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” This is from his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. I thought it was appropriate since February is Black History Month and because the quote speaks to love for Valentine’s Day.

Have a great week!


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