Weekly Update – February 28, 2010

on February 28, 2010 in Weekly Update

Good morning everyone —

We sure enjoyed a beautiful weekend, plus an exciting last few days of the Winter Olympics.   That hockey game Sunday was tortuous!  I hope you are having a great semester, and that things are going well in the classroom and in the offices and service areas. Thank you all for everything you do to ensure our students succeed!

Earlier this week, I received the spring 2010 preliminary student characteristics report from the aSPIRE office. Our preliminary spring semester college-wide unduplicated headcount is 25,783, an increase of a little over 11 percent, compared to last spring.  Interestingly, over 200 of our students attend all three campuses!  That’s commitment and what an effort in having your act together on where you need to be next!!  I am including a copy of this report so you can review it and see who we are serving.  The information is quite interesting.

Spring 2010 Preliminary Characteristics Report

This week the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) held a regional meeting in Galveston for the Gulf Coast College CEOs and Board members.  There were about 35 of us in attendance, and we received a review of the past Legislative session, current projections on the economic outlook, and a preview of potential issues community colleges may be facing as they move towards the 82nd Texas legislative session.  It was emphasized several times that community colleges are no longer viewed as “little” by our legislators and the other officials and state staff in Austin.  Statewide enrollment in community colleges has grown 55 percent since 2000, rapidly approaching 700,000 students statewide.  The collective appropriations from the State to community colleges in the last legislative session were $2.28 billion. Our size had a powerful and positive effect when the community colleges combined statewide after Governor Rick Perry initiated a line-item veto of community college health benefits during the 80th legislative session. The representatives from TACC stressed the importance of the combined voices of community colleges being heard in Austin. My intentions are to keep San Jacinto College in the forefront of these efforts and discussions. 

As the group discussed the next legislative Session, it was thought that redistricting will keep the focus of the majority of our elected officials.  As population shifts occur, the Legislature must respond through redistricting to ensure that all citizens are properly represented. Some key items that may also be on the table which will affect community colleges deal with dual credit, developmental education, and financial aid policy. The Legislature will also continue to have conversations regarding performance-based formula funding. Proportionality is likely to be an issue, as will health benefits for all state employees.  

While many of you may think this sounds like the same broken record that you have heard over the past years, I encourage you to stay informed on the issues and to vote in the upcoming primary. As far as the impact on San Jacinto College, we will continue to monitor and be active in discussions, stay focused on our strategies, and continue to work with our elected officials to ensure our voice is heard.

Also, this week the Strategic Leadership Team met and discussed a number of items, including the Distinguished Faculty program.  Ann Tate gave us an update of how the committee is proceeding in developing the Level Three Distinguished Faculty criteria.  Focus groups are being asked for input, and the peer review committee will be reviewing this input.  Most of you will recall that the Distinguished Faculty initiative was an outgrowth of Achieving the Dream, and we want to keep that student success agenda at the forefront of how we move this program forward. 

We also received an update from Brook Zemel on the retention calling program which will be presented to the Board of Trustees tonight. As part of this retention program, first-time college students at San Jacinto College are called at least three times during their first semester to see how they are progressing with their courses and to encourage them to stay on track. The Student Life Coordinators are also creating different events to engage students and enhance their college experience. We know that an important part of the first semester, and especially the first few weeks, is connectivity and engagement. Student services personnel are watching the numbers closely and working with the aSPIRE office to monitor how successful the program is and where it may need some tweaking.  They have conducted surveys with students to find out why students do not return; the most common reasons have to do with financial need, job-related issues, and childcare.  We were able to secure a $60,000 grant, funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, to hire students to conduct peer-to-peer advising and calling.  This means we can provide jobs for our students.  And through the program, they receive not only great information to make their own experience better, but they also help their fellow students through this calling program.

This week I also attended the South Belt Ellington Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards dinner at which Senator Mike Jackson was named the Citizen of the Year.  We received a very nice surprise when our own faculty member, Judy Harrison, received the award for “Volunteer of the Year.”  Great job, Judy, and thank you for all you do in the community!

Finally, on Sunday morning, I was honored to participate in the awards ceremony at the Texas Academic Decathlon, which was hosted by our North Campus. It was a wonderful event, and I thank all of our employees who spent much of their week-end volunteering to make it a success.

Thank you for all you do and keep plugging away . . . .  Spring break is only two weeks away!

Best,

BH

P.S.  Plan to hear from me on Tuesday morning to give you an update of several important items from the Board meeting on Monday evening.

One Response to “Weekly Update – February 14, 2010”

  1. Amy Ruiz says:

    The fact that over 200 students attend all 3 campuses is important in making sure that our information and presentation to students is consistent. Thank you for posting those numbers.

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