Weekly Update – February 14, 2010

on February 14, 2010 in Weekly Update

Good morning,

I hope you enjoyed Valentine’s Day this weekend and shared some time with your special someone.  This weekend also was the kickoff of the Winter Olympics. It was exciting to watch Apollo Ohno make history by obtaining his sixth medal in the men’s short-track racing and tying Bonnie Blair for the most medals won in the winter Olympics. The tragedy Friday on the luge track shocked and horrified us, and we are confronted with just how precious and short that life really is.

This week was busy and I spent some time working on our college response to the Governor’s request  for each state agency and higher education institution to submit a plan for a possible five percent budget reduction. As we were preparing the budget for this year, we were concerned about the economy and the recession; consequently, we budgeted very conservatively, especially in property tax collections. We are anticipating that this strategy will pay off for us, in that if required, we will be able to reduce the budget with no impact to our current operational plan. We will continue to monitor revenues and costs and adjust accordingly. It will be important as we move forward in these unprecedented times to manage our costs and ensure we are working “smart” to maintain our sound financial position as we continue to work through the economic difficulties facing us. I want you to keep in mind that even as we plan for the worse (and meet the requirement of the Governor), we remain hopeful that the economy will pick up and that we won’t have to incur the cuts.

On the economic front, I encourage each of you to stay abreast on the issues facing our region. Many of our area plants have told me that their production is down 30% from last year, the State’s comptroller just released a report that sales tax revenues are down for the last eight months in a row, and the federal budget impact on NASA and Johnson Space Center are projected to be significant. At a Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP) meeting that I attended last week, there was talk that as many as 7,000 direct and 35,000 indirect jobs in Clear Lake and the surrounding communities could be affected.

This week, I joined the Presidents from Lee College, Alvin College, College of the Mainland, and Galveston College to talk with the leadership at the University of Houston Clear Lake (UHCL) regarding their plans for a downward expansion into the freshman and sophomore years. UHCL presented both strategic and operational data that is being used to justify and substantiate the downward expansion. It was clear from the information presented that community college transfer students will continue to be an important feeder to UHCL even if the downward expansion is approved. It was an informative meeting, and we will meet again prior to spring break.

Also, the Strategic Leadership Team met on Wednesday, and we agreed to move forward with posting 64 faculty positions. Of these, one is for a new sonography program, 52 are new full-time positions, and 11 are replacement faculty positions. Of this total, 21 are in the college preparatory area.  All approved positions are going through the posting and advertising process, and our Human Resources Department will be working with the campus leadership to ensure that our processes are designed to reach a broad, qualified, and competitive audience.  These full-time positions are important to the college’s commitment to excellence and quality teaching and learning.

Now that I’ve talked a little about last week, let me talk a little about several things coming up rather quickly on our agenda.  First, I am looking forward to seeing all of the full-time employees at the College Community Day on Tuesday. I know you have already heard a great deal about this day from me, so I hope you will visit the “College Planning” link on this blog and print off the documents I linked on the “College Community Day – February 16” post. Please be sure you review these documents so that we are all beginning from the same foundation as we go through our strategic planning exercises. I want to apologize to the part-time and adjunct employees that our spacing needs do not accommodate your participation in this day, but I will continue to distribute the materials regarding outcomes from the day.

We are also coming up on the mid-year reviews for our performance management cycle.  If you have not received the prompt to update your mid-year progress from your supervisor, please ask him or her to start the process for you.  We want to have the mid-year reviews completed by the end of February.

Also, coming up soon is the Texas Academic Decathlon being held at our North Campus. The Academic Decathlon is a competition for high school students to face-off in various academic contests to determine which winning team will represent Texas in the national academic decathlon. Competition categories include Essay Writing, Speech, Interview, Math, Music, Economics, Fine Arts, Science, and Language. The decathlon also features a Super Quiz test and a Super Quiz relay event. Many of you are volunteering your time and talents to assist with this important event which brings the top students in Texas to San Jacinto College. If you haven’t already offered to volunteer, please read last week’s Water Cooler on the needs and contact Charlotte Jackson with your availability.

Again, the big event this week is the College Community Day.  Since we will be closing the college on Tuesday, you will be receiving a reminder on Monday to turn on your out-of-office assistant on your email account and set your voice mail recording accordingly. We are now moving into our fifth week of the semester, keep up the good work and remember to take that extra time and effort with our students.



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