Weekly Update – July 25, 2010

on July 25, 2010 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College –

Can you believe it is already the end of July? And can you believe how hot and sticky it has been? I guess in a way it is good to have the hot season go by more quickly!! I hope you are having a good summer and finding some time to relax by the pool or in the air conditioning or wherever you like to relax and recharge. 

In last week’s update I mentioned the On Course training scheduled for this past week. Several of you asked me to tell you more, so here goes. As we continue to strive for ways to improve student success, San Jacinto College is initiating a guided studies course (GUST 0305) in the fall to help students with study skills, learning tools, and overall time management skills.  Initially, GUST (Student Success Course) will be mandatory for all students testing into two or more college preparatory courses, with the plan to expand to all first-time-in-college students by Fall 2011.

The materials we will be using for this class were developed by Dr. Skip Downing, an international consultant in the field of faculty development and student success strategies, called On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life (Wadsworth/Cengage Learning).  Downing has earned degrees from Princeton University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Santa Monica, and Carnegie Mellon University.  He holds advanced degrees in both English and counseling psychology. He was Professor of English at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) for 32 years. In addition to his role as an academic instructor, Downing created and coordinated BCCC’s Student Success and Learning Community Programs. These programs teach students how to apply proven strategies of success to achieve their full potential in college and in life. The College Success Program resulted in a significant increase in both student academic success and retention. 

This past week, we welcomed Robin Middleton, a certified On Course facilitator who led staff, faculty, and administrators through the On Course workshop.  Participants in the two-day workshop on Monday and Tuesday learned strategies for empowering students to become active, responsible learners. The attendees participated in the learning models and then drew on uses for how these learning strategies can be used both in the classroom and in staff functions within departments and even for home situations. The topics covered the characteristics of successful students, characteristics of learner-centered education, promotion of students’ self-responsibility, motivation, management, interdependence, self awareness, and lifelong learning.

On Wednesday through Friday, the faculty, staff, and administrators in our college community who will be teaching the GUST/Student Success course participated in a similar workshop that added depth about the actual teaching portion of the materials.  I am looking forward to seeing data as we go through fall on how these courses affect student learning and success. I have heard excellent reviews about both training sessions, and many have said that every employee in the College should sign up for the next round of workshops. By the way, I have the session in the fall on my calendar – make sure you watch for On Course notices from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

This week, the Strategic Leadership Team met again to continue the budget process. We are at a good place, moving forward, and will be prepared to present the budget for approval by our Board of Trustees at the August board meeting. I am very pleased with how the process has come together. Thanks to all for your participation and commitment to our strategic goals; this has helped make this process smoother and much more collaborative.

On Wednesday, the College was presented with more than $1 million from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Skills Development Fund to provide training for the maritime and aerospace industries. TWC Commissioner Andres Alcantar signed and presented the two checks. The first grant is for $394,577 and will create or upgrade 195 positions in the maritime industry.  Seven sea and coastal transportation and inland water transportation companies have come together to request this training from the College, which will train workers for positions as a captain, mate, deckhand, and tankerman. Industry partners in this training include BG Americas and Global LNG, G & H Towing Co., Harbor Offshore Marine Inc., Helix Energy Solutions Group, Higman Marine Services Inc., J.A.M. Distributing Co., and Signet Maritime Corp.

The second grant, for $607,185, will help create or upgrade more than 500 positions for the aerospace industry. This project will provide training to transition incumbent workers who are currently in positions focused on operations into positions focused on design and development. It will also provide training to new hires that will move into the positions vacated by transitioning workers. Companies included in the training are Barrios Technology Ltd., Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., Cimarron Software Services Inc., Futron Corp., GeoControl Systems Inc., Hamilton Sunstrand, Lockheed Martin Corp., MRI Technologies, Oceaneering International Inc., United Space Alliance LLC, and Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering Group.

It was an exciting afternoon, and we are so thrilled to be working with fantastic industry partners and the Texas Workforce Commission on two more grants.  Thanks to our Continuing and Professional Development division and grants department who are working hard to build these important industry relationships and finding opportunities to help the workers in our community through increased job skills.

Lastly, on Thursday, we hosted the first annual Texas Higher Education IR/IT Forum. What started as a small event where we were hoping to have at least 12 guests turned into a large event with more than 50 people in attendance from several institutions and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). This large response shows the interest and need for understanding data and consistency in reporting to help higher education institutions make better decisions.  Several participants representing information technology (IT) departments and institutional research (IR) departments commented on the need for these two reporting departments to collaborate. Other institutions represented include Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Tarleton State University, Steven F. Austin University, and Houston Community College.  Congratulations to our own IT and aSPIRE offices who collaborated to bring this conference and facilitate the exchange of ideas on higher education reporting to fruition.

Have a great week!



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