Weekly Update – September 9, 2011

on September 9, 2011 in Weekly Update

Hello San Jacinto College Community –

We are two weeks into the fall semester, and I hope that all of you have recuperated from the hectic pace and the long lines that go with the kick-off of a semester. Now that the semester is underway, we need to move into our “Just One More” focus, which is based on the premise that each of us (all staff, administrators, and faculty) has a role in encouraging students to stay committed to completing their classes successfully and finishing the semester. We want our students to finish what they start.  This begins with one class, one semester, and then, ultimately, certificates and degrees. Those certificates and degrees translate into completion for us, but they translate into accomplishment and achievement for our students and marketable credentials for jobs.

Our enrollment for the sixteen-week fall semester is up 2.9% if we consider unduplicated headcount (unique students at each campus), but we have a decline of .4% if we consider contact hours. Remember that contact hours are the basis for state funding. What these changes tell us is that we have more students attending San Jacinto College, but those students are taking fewer credit hours. We are reviewing the details of enrollment to understand where and why we are seeing growth and decline. There are interesting differences in the enrollment trends. For example, our North Campus experienced growth in technical programs, while South and Central experienced declines. Both the South and North campuses experienced growth in academic areas, while our Central Campus had a slight decline. Another interesting trend we have seen is an increase in the number of students who are attending multiple campuses; based on current enrollments, there are over 4,000 students taking classes at more than one of the campuses. Keep in mind that we still have Take2 classes (term 12B) beginning September 26th.  The later start of classes (sometimes called parts of term) allows students to add courses and accommodates those students who aren’t quite ready to begin classes during the sixteen-week semester.

Last week, the Board of Trustees approved the budget and annual priorities for 2011-12. The college’s unrestricted budget is $135,499,797 and our total budget with restricted dollars is $238,236,150.  To view the budget presentation, follow this link.  The annual priorities approved by the Board for 2011-12 can be viewed here.  These annual priorities continue the strategies and goals established in our three-year strategic plan. Each of the priorities has a member of the Strategic Leadership Team assigned as the accountable or responsible person and metrics on what needs to be accomplished. Over the next few weeks, I will highlight many of these priorities and why they are important to the vision and mission of San Jacinto College and how that work affects the communities we serve.

Additionally, I am providing a link to comments I made at College Community Day on August 23rd.  These comments give a more in-depth explanation of what we have achieved with the budget development process for this year and the challenges and opportunities for the future. (Please copy and paste this link into your web browser: mms://media.sanjac.edu/EdTech/InService/2011Keynote.wmv.) These comments also highlight the significance of our past. While we are a college with three campuses, many buildings, and great technology, we are really about people: the people who work at this college every day, the students who attend this College, and the community members who support us.

I hope you haven’t forgotten that September 18th marks 50 years since San Jacinto College opened its doors for classes. It also marks the kick-off of our 50th anniversary celebrations. Stay connected to what is happening by viewing our anniversary webiste at http://www.sanjac.edu/anniversary.

I have been getting questions about the College’s official name. When we were created by the voters in 1960 (our first Board took office on June 2, 1960), the name was East Harris County Union Junior College District. Eighteen days later, based on citizen input, the name was changed to San Jacinto Junior College District. In December 1995, the Board approved changing the name to San Jacinto Community College District. Even with these official name changes, the community has always known us as San Jacinto College, and that is what our marketing and communication materials reflect.

Over the last few weeks, I have attended multiple meetings with members of our petrochemical and refining industry and maritime industry. The leaders in these industries have a significant interest in how San Jacinto College and the other community colleges in the region can assist them in meeting future workforce needs.  Discussions are focused on incumbent training and skill upgrade and the incoming employee pipeline. These discussions also continue to question how to encourage critical thinking and a mastery of math, science, and technology skills. I have been most impressed with the discussions around the possibilities of the future, the strategies required for this region to compete, and the steps that our industry and business partners are taking.  At the Petrochemical and Maritime Outlook Conference held at the Pasadena Convention Center on August 30th, Tammy Little, Refinery Production Manager from Shell, presented what she called “a story of the struggle of people developing a winning strategy.” In this discussion, she highlighted how the employees of the Deer Park plant initially denied the need for change, but they were committed to not giving up and eventually realized that changes would have to be made. Over the last three years, based on that commitment, they leveraged core principles, identified ways to create a leaner organization, and progressed through a period of substantial change whereby every member of the team developed ways to improve outcomes. Ms. Little ended her discussion by stating, “this story was of transformation that means jobs.” While we continue to hear about and feel the economic difficulties affecting the country, I also see these difficulties as tremendous opportunities for San Jacinto College and the entire region that we serve. We are definitely poised to capture these opportunities!!

I hope all of you have a great week-end and enjoy the cooler mornings.  I close by saying that we should all take a moment this Sunday to remember September 11 and those who sacrificed so much for our country.



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