Weekly Update – May 23, 2010

on May 23, 2010 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

It is funny how so many of my weeks take on an interesting theme that I really wasn’t expecting. Take, for example, this week, I started out reading a report from the SJC Veterans’ Services Task Force. This group studied the college’s efforts in supporting veterans and active military service members and what should be done in order to prepare us for anticipated increases in this student population. For 2009-2010, San Jacinto College served 1,008 individuals who accessed veterans’ benefits. According to the task force’s research, currently Harris County has 33,651 military members deployed, and 8,089 Harris county veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom have already checked in with the Veterans Administration. This number of veterans is anticipated to increase as the drawdown of troops materializes. Additionally, from a historical perspective, a larger portion (43%) of military undergraduates (veterans and active duty military) attends public two-year institutions compared to those who attend public four-year universities (21%).  I was impressed with the quality of research conducted by the task force; the innovative and low cost solutions that have been implemented; and the recommendations for a two to three year plan to better support the growing number of active service members and veterans who are continuing to return to Harris County and our service area.

Shortly after I finished the report, I received a call from Brian Owens with the Governor’s Office regarding a pilot project with select community colleges (SJC is one), the Governor’s Office, and Texas Workforce Commission. The project seeks to maximize the amount of college credit that returning veterans can obtain for their military experience and knowledge. The pilot is focusing first on counties that have a large veteran population of which Harris, Bexar, and Bell are the largest. Following up on this call was a conference call later in the week with the participating parties. I don’t have many details at this point, but I will keep you posted. I do know that the Governor is planning to publicly announce the project on June 2nd in Houston.

To continue with the military theme, I finished the week with a meeting on the Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base project. The military troop levels at Ellington Field were at 1,500 in 2003 and 2004, are currently at 4,250, and are projected at 6,200 for 2012 and 7,000 beyond that. Expansion and renovation projects estimated at $100 million are underway or under development. This is amazing, considering not too long ago the field was slated to be closed with no troops housed there. Our meeting was focused on how San Jacinto College can have a role in providing training to the active troops and veterans. This is a multi-year discussion and development project, but one with considerable potential.

I know that we are a week out from Memorial Day but with all this military work, I want to thank all of our employees who have served our country. I appreciate your service and thank you for making so many sacrifices.

The other theme for this week was workforce training and economic development with a specific focus on the maritime industry. I had three meetings related to this topic, including giving a presentation to the Economic Alliance about the status of our programs. We are making considerable progress in the maritime area largely due to the work of Sallie Kay Janes and the Continuing and Professional Development (CPD) department. If you are not yet aware, we have rented a facility at Highway 225 and Beltway 8 to provide training under two grant and appropriation requests, plus we are developing a Maritime Venture Academy for the summer which will allow high school students to experience activities on the water. The academy will highlight navigation and simulation exercises and provide a tour of the Houston ship channel. During the summer, we will continue to work on a permanent location for the training facility.  I have several meetings scheduled with the Port of Houston and surrounding cities.  This has taken much more time than anticipated, but we are starting to see significant progress.

I have two other events to highlight for the week.  The first is the Retiree Luncheon. It was wonderful to meet and get reacquainted with some of our retirees. You sure felt the pride and love for San Jacinto College in the room. There was much excitement about the 50th anniversary celebration, and a couple of people were interviewed and videotaped on the spot.

The second event was a luncheon at South Campus honoring the top 10 students at Dobie High School and Lutheran South Academy. I provided a few comments, but the person who stole the show was a young man who received his award and then wanted to add to my comments with one of his favorite quotes.  I am sure that you have heard it before. Here it is: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That is why we call it the present.” I hope you keep this in mind as you continue through your busy life!

Have a great week!

Best,

BH

3 Responses to “Weekly Update – January 10, 2010”

  1. martin wnuk says:

    There is no doubt that the petro-chemical industry is an important, even crucial element in the Houston economy. But the statement they made about jobs seems like a thinly-veiled threat, “If you support cap and trade we’ll just cut employment here.”

    The industry recently recorded historical profits yet they did not INCREASE employment in the area.

    As I said, nobody is questioning how important the oil and related industries are to the area but i think we also need to hear the other side of the argument.

  2. Jan Crenshaw says:

    Reading about an increase of veteran enrollment makes me wonder if we will also see a concommitant increase in disabled students.

    • Brenda Hellyer says:

      Thank you for your comment Jan. Interestingly, SJC recently went through an accessibility audit sponsored by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Office of Civil Rights. Through that audit, we found that we are in compliance but revealed a few items that either required correction or were suggested as correctable for convenience.

      Through our facilities (maintenance) department, all of the items have either been addressed already or are in a plan to be addressed in the next 12 months.

      As you noted, with so many of our men and women returning from combat, colleges across the country are seeing an increase in U.S. Veteran’s returning to the classroom. We are prepared to be here for them and to help them reach their educational goals. I am very proud that San Jacinto College is in the top 15 percent of the nation’s colleges, universities and trade schools on the 2010 Military Friendly School list.

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