Weekly Update – October 31, 2010

on October 31, 2010 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

The end of October is here, and yes, I am loving this weather!!  I hope you are also!!  I also hope that your Individual Performance Plan is near completion since all are due at the end of the day on November 1st.

First, on my agenda today is to cover a couple of follow-up items from this past week.

This week we had a lot of media attention around a situation that occurred at our South Campus. I want to remind you to report any suspicious activities you observe to our College Police department so they can investigate.  If you ever feel uneasy about walking to your vehicle or to another building, please do not hesitate to contact the police on your campus for an escort.  No matter what campus you are on, the phone number is 281-476-9128 or call extension 5555 from a campus phone.

Several of you have emailed me that you did not receive a text alert or email about the situation when it occurred two weeks ago. The process is for text and email messages to be sent at the time of the event to the impacted campus, and in this situation, only the South Campus students and employees were notified. Emails to employees are sent using the college email system and distribution lists. However, we have identified a coding issue in Banner for employees who work on more than one campus and for district employees who office on one of the campuses. Please note that student coding is different from employees and students are receiving the appropriate messages even if they attend more than one campus. Our marketing and information technology departments are working together to create an update in SOS on the “Alert Me” tab that will allow employees to choose which campus messages they would like to receive alerts on (this  includes the three campuses and district and you will be able to select more than one location). The process through SOS will affect text and voice messages only. Emails will continue to be sent through the college email system using distribution lists. These distribution lists and various components of the email system are in the process of being updated. I have asked for a timeline for getting these functions live, and you will be receiving further communication on this from the marketing department in the next two weeks.

Additionally, if you have not gone into the “Alert Me” system and elected to participate, you need to do so now. It is important that all employees participate, and we encourage our students to participate as well. Students are introduced to the “Alert Me” system through our mandatory orientations but your reminder of the “Alert Me” system will help encourage participation.

The second follow-up item for this week is related to a critical people initiative that was addressed in the email at this link. One of the College’s four strategic goals is “Our People”, and a compensation study is being conducted as part of the strategies and actions related to recruiting, retaining, and developing our employees. This compensation study will focus initially on full-time employees and will then be expanded to address our part-time employees. The purpose of the study is to ensure that the College is compensating our employees consistently on an internal basis as well as determine on a total compensation basis (base salary plus benefits) where we are against the market. Once we understand both the internal and external differences, then we will be able to develop a game plan for moving forward. As we progress through the compensation study, we will utilize a task force to communicate, explain, and educate employees about the various aspects of our compensation practices.

The first, and most critical, step in the compensation study process is job descriptions. For faculty, a job description was developed by the Faculty Performance Management Design Team. For most everyone other than faculty members, the job descriptions are inconsistent and in many cases are not current. Now, the work begins with the creation of new job descriptions for EVERY full-time position (other than faculty members). These job descriptions will be completed by each employee and should reflect the requirements and responsibilities of the position, not the person in the job.

The job descriptions will be submitted to the human resource department (HR) by November 30th. Once the job descriptions are submitted to HR, they will be evaluated with the assistance of a consultant using a methodology based on know-how, problem solving, and accountability. This process will also include steps to ensure consistency among similar job positions regardless of bands, departments, and location (campuses and district).

Training has been set-up for next week to assist you in learning how to write and prepare the job descriptions. While the training is not mandatory, I encourage every staff member and administrator to attend one of these sessions. The development of a concise and accurate job description is key to the success of the study. I am including the training schedule for your convenience and remember that the due date for completion is November 30th.  You will receive more details on the submission process in the near future.

South Campus

Monday, November 1st at 9 a.m. in the Kaleidoscope Room or Wednesday, November 3rd at 1 p.m. in the Kaleidoscope Room

North Campus

Monday, November 1st at 2 p.m. in the Kaleidoscope Room or Thursday, November 4th at 12 p.m. in the Teaching Theatre

Central Campus

Tuesday, November 2nd at 10 a.m. in the Kaleidoscope Room or Tuesday, November 2nd at 1 p.m. in the Kaleidoscope Room

District Office

Friday, November 5th at 3:30 p.m. in the Board Room #104

As I segue into new information, let me say that we are conducting this compensation study to comply with our own process of being a data-informed institution and basing our decisions on data. However, I do not want to mislead you about the outcomes. We will get the data and will utilize the task force mentioned above, but any salary adjustments from this study will require careful planning and may have to come later rather than sooner. I tell you this in an effort to remain transparent with the process and the expected outcomes. The next discussion will help clarify my caution.

This week I spent two days in Austin hearing about the upcoming legislative session.  Needless to say, the picture is becoming more ominous with the projected deficit continuing to increase. There are many unknowns, and the estimate is that the session will not end in May but rather will continue into August and possibly September.

While I was in Austin at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) meeting, I along with Catherine O’Brien, presented on our Houston Pathways project which led to discussions on our Student Success agenda. In case you haven’t heard about this project, Houston Pathways is a partnership with Houston Endowment, Houston Community College, and the University of Houston – Clear Lake as well as four of our independent school districts and THECB to share data in order to address performance gaps. This past year, vertical faculty teams (high school and college) began to address gaps in math, English, and history. San Jacinto College was commended on our work which was listed on the THECB under “Recognition of Excellence.”

At this meeting, the THECB discussed its plan to move forward with the proposal on Momentum Points funding. As we have discussed before, this model would fund milestones or improvements in student achievement (i.e. student completes college prep, completes college math, completes 15 hours, completes 30 hours, earns degree/certificate, and transfers). The concerns for this model and for the session all boil down to dollars.  Under the proposal, community colleges would only earn 90 percent of the current funding model. The remaining 10 percent would be retained for the momentum points funding. This hold-back is alarming especially because of our significant growth during a time of budget deficit. Community colleges across the State have had significant growth (anticipated 22.5 percent for the biennium) which would require $350 million to keep us whole. Funding this type of growth with a deficit budget will be difficult but the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), as well as individual community colleges, must continue to advocate this position. San Jacinto College will be working with the TACC to increase our advocacy efforts.  Additionally, we will increase meetings with our legislators on an individual and regional level.

Last week, I addressed three of strategies and annual priorities under our Strategic Goal on Student Success. I anticipated addressing the remaining two strategies this week but decided in order to keep this update at a reasonable length that it would be better to address one this week and the last one next week,

Strategy #2 under our Student Success Goal is to “Become a recognized leader in the quality and availability of alternative delivery offerings.” Before I highlight the specific actions related to this strategy, let me give you an update on our current status in this area.

Contact hours for fully online delivery (FOD) courses and hybrid courses represent approximately nine percent and four percent, respectively of our total credit contact hours. Over the past three fall semesters, there has been an increase of 46 percent in FOD contact hours and a 78 percent increase in hybrid contact hours. During last year, online offerings increased from 189 to 208 and hybrid offerings increased from 100 to 154, and ten additional degrees or certificates reached the 50 percent or greater THECB reporting criteria for online delivery. During spring 2011, an online general studies degree will be completed.

The training and certification process for faculty teaching online is continuing through the ACAdemic Learning series. Currently, 30 faculty members are certified. ACAdemic Learning provides a basic background in educational design principles and teaching methods, including effective content design and delivery, learning environment design, alternative methods of assessments, effective integration of technology resources, and other relevant pedagogical content. The focus is on keeping learning active, collaborative, and authentic.  This fall, we are also continuing the pilot of Quality Matters (QM), a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. The program incorporates a rubric that was created on a set of forty specific elements, distributed across eight broad standards, and used to evaluate the design of online and hybrid courses.

While the College has made significant progress with our distance learning and alternative delivery offerings over the past few years, we are looking at how best to position San Jacinto College for the future. We know this is an area of growth and continued competition so Strategy #2 is focused on assessing current operations, understanding the landscape, and developing a go forward plan.

Highlights of the specific 2010-2011 actions related to Strategy #2 are:

  • Review current operations in terms of distance and alternative learning modalities against national models, best-promising practices, and student success measures.
  • Survey current and recent students enrolled in distance and alternative learning classes to determine programmatic points of strength and weakness from the student perspective.
  • Develop an understanding of the current student success in distance and alternative modalities in comparison to face-to-face delivery.
  • Create a high-level advisory team with broad experience and expertise in distance and alternative learning modalities to advise the College in the development of a comprehensive plan for alternative delivery offerings and distance learning strategies.
  • By May 2011, finalize a three-year plan, based on agreed-upon objectives to increase programs to be delivered online, online offerings to dual credit students, and identification of key milestones, with costs clearly identified.
  • Begin implementation of the approved plan no later than July 2011.
  • Facilitate two Board workshops to first present current distance learning and alternative delivery initiatives and to present the findings of the advisory committee.

This strategy has an aggressive time line to have the assessment complete and plan developed by May and implementation in July. An important component of this strategy is our continued emphasis on understanding and monitoring student success as it relates to alternative delivery and developing appropriate support systems to ensure success.

Have a great week!

Best,
BH

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