Weekly Update – October 17, 2011

on October 17, 2011 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

As I reflect on the first two weeks of October, I have to smile. It has been an amazing two weeks! Let me give you some highlights.

We began the month with a celebratory 50th anniversary photograph with nearly 800 participants, including students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and retirees. I was astonished at how quickly this activity came together and how festive it felt! Thank you to all of the participants and to the organizers! The photo is available for download on the College Flickr site…here is the link for you:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjacintocollege/6219855897/

To add to the festivities, we celebrated the grand opening of the Central Campus Transportation Center, the first of several facilities funded through the 2008 bond program. For over four decades, the College’s automotive department has set the bar in automotive technology training. Through solid partnerships with local industry and manufacturers, this department is one of the nation’s most sought-after training providers and boasts a 100 percent job placement rate. The new Center was built with public monies, but additional private gifts provided funding for over $1 million in equipment and fixtures. Approximately 667 students now train in automotive technology at San Jacinto College, and as student Mary Haar of Katy said, “This entire building is incredibly thought out. It is convenient to have my classroom in the same room as my lab …it’s just brilliant.” At the grand opening, we hosted industry partners, community representatives, and locally elected officials; and we were privileged to have as our guest Mr. Gregory Winfree, Acting Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration of the United States Department of Transportation.  Mr. Winfree provided a keynote address focused on the role of community colleges in providing relevant, rigorous, and timely workforce training. He toured not only the Transportation Center, but also the hands-on training unit and gas analyzer specialty labs in the Process Technology Department. I also outlined for Mr. Winfree the successes of our aviation, maritime, and diesel technology programs. The president of the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region, Chad Burke, provided an overview of economic development efforts underway in the region, including highlights and concerns identified in the East Harris County Transportation Study, which is currently in process. The event made the evening news so view here for a highlight.

Members of the Board of Trustees were involved with both of these events, as well as conducting the monthly Board meeting and attending two conferences in Dallas. Before the regular October Board meeting, the Board held a special meeting to conduct my annual evaluation. The process for my evaluation is similar to that utilized by all of our of employees. The Board-approved annual priorities serve as my individual performance plan (IPP).  I give the Board progress reports throughout the year, they give me feedback on a regular basis regarding their concerns, and we make revisions along the way as deemed necessary. At the end of the year, I provide an annual report of work that has been accomplished (i.e. close out my IPP and prepare a self-evaluation), which includes where the scope of work has changed or where due dates have been revised. I also provide an assessment of how I believe that I have lived the College’s eight values and an overall assessment of my performance. The Board then meets to determine my evaluation rating, identify the appropriate salary adjustment, and provide feedback. During the October Board meeting, they acted to amend my contract to reflect their discussions which included a salary adjustment in line with the percentages approved for all employees, a change in the travel allowance, and an extension of the term through August 31, 2014. The Board is committed to an evaluation process for the chancellor that reflects the College’s performance management system for all employees. In addition, they are committed to self-assessment. In this regard, the members of the Board are in the process of completing a self-evaluation. Not all boards are willing to take this kind of look within and discuss areas that they would like to improve or change in the future. To accomplish this, they are utilizing a tool developed for the Governance Institute for Student Success (funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in conjunction with the Association of Community College Trustees).

As I mentioned earlier, several members of the Board attended two conferences this week. The first was a combined meeting of the Texas Community College Trustees and Administrators (TCCTA) and the Community College Association of Texas Trustees (CCATT). This meeting kicked off with an update from Dr. Raymund Paredes, Commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. He discussed Closing the Gaps and steps for continuing to increase access and student success in the State of Texas. Dr. Paredes began his comments by thanking community colleges for their important work and continued focus on serving the postsecondary needs of the State. He highlighted progress, but stressed the need to do more. Here are a few of the points included in his comments:

  • In Texas, the average educational attainment for citizens over the age of 25 is 12.9 years for Whites, 12.1 years for African-Americans, and 10.0 years for Hispanics.
  • The State will exceed the goal of participation, which is why it has increased that goal from 500,000 to 635,000 by 2015. This is due to population growth and progress on participation.
  • The State has seen Hispanic outcomes improve by 80% for both access and success.
  • Progress is being made on the student success goals, but these goals were established to so that the State would achieve parity with the 10 largest states.
  • The challenge is how to accelerate progress in order to be competitive.
  • Cost efficiencies continue to be an issue and will continue as the State faces additional budget challenges in the upcoming biennia.

Dr. Paredes’s presentation was followed by a panel of community college presidents and trustees who discussed funding challenges, the requirement to do more with less, and the need to achieve greater efficiencies while maintaining the levels of excellence and quality that community colleges are known to deliver. There was an overall agreement that our work will continue to be challenging.

The second meeting the Board attended was the 42nd Annual Leadership Congress entitled “Information is Power: Fostering Sustainability & Student Success,” hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees. The theme throughout the conference reflected the growing imperative to focus community college efforts on student success and completion, while remaining committed to access and excellence. These efforts started with a Symposium on Student Success whereby 150 invited participants were asked to share ideas and input in order to craft a policy action agenda to assist boards of trustees as they work to increase student success. San Jacinto College was given the opportunity to participate in this symposium, and we were also asked to present a special session on our intentional focus on student success, persistence, and completion. Our College was recognized in several sessions for the work that we are doing. There was also a book released during the conference entitled Making Good on the Promise of the Open Door: Effective Governance and Leadership to Improve Student Equity, Success, and Completion. This book features San Jacinto College as a case study. If you are interested in getting a copy, it will be listed in the bookstore at http://www.acct.org/resources/publications/. During the lunch on Friday, with approximately 1,200 people in attendance, Dr. William E. Trueheart, President of Achieving the Dream, Inc., recognized San Jacinto College during his keynote address. He paid tribute to the leadership and commitment of the Board and to all employees at San Jacinto College for our focused efforts on access, student success, and excellence. He acknowledged that we had just achieved Leader College recognition, and he encouraged us to continue our work. As I listened to Dr. Trueheart, I was so proud of everyone at San Jac!! I thank you for your commitment to our strategic plan and our student success work!!  To learn more on what we have achieved, please review this presentation, which was made at the October 3rd Board meeting.

During the week of October 24th, you will receive information about the Organizational Wellness Inventory (OWI). You may remember that we conducted a baseline OWI in April 2010. The results from the 2011 OWI will be compared with the baseline results so that we can identify positive and negative trends regarding the “health” of our College. We will use this data to capitalize on our strengths and identify areas for improvement. The OWI assesses 10 dimensions of organizational health: trust, learning, gratification, language, ownership, energy, change, interaction, creativity, and communication. All full-time faculty, staff, and administrators will be asked to complete this survey. My goal is 100% participation by our full-time employees. You may complete the survey on-line, and it only takes about 15 minutes of your time.  However, it will provide me with a wealth of extensive, valuable information about our College. I intend to share information from this survey at College Community Day on February 23, 2012.

I close with this final thought. Dreams, visions, goals … they really do become reality here at San Jac and each of you is contributing to that reality. Thank you for that contribution and that commitment!

Have a great week!

Best,

BH

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