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Terri ValladolidApril, 2104

As spring break approaches, Southwestern College’s Governing Board is not  adjourning early. Here are some highlights from the spring semester so far.

Recognizing Excellence

The Governing Board recognized outstanding faculty and staff at recent meetings. At the April meeting, full-time and part-time faculty, as well the Puente team, were honored as this year’s Faculty of the Year.

Jessica Posey, Part-Time Faculty Excellence
Jessica Posey, Part-Time Faculty Excellence

Joyce Bayles and David Ramirez, Team Faculty Exellence
Joyce Bayles and David Ramirez, Team Faculty Excellence

Lizzette Herrera Castelanos, Part-Time Professional Leadership
Lizzette Herrera Castelanos, Part-Time Professional Leadership

Dr. Rebecca Wolniewicz, Full-Time Professional Leadership
Dr. Rebecca Wolniewicz, Full-Time Professional Leadership

Dr. Nouna Bakhiet, Full-Time Faculty Excellence
Dr. Nouna Bakhiet, Full-Time Faculty Excellence

In March, Jose Islas, an Administrative Secretary at the School of Mathematics, Science & Engineering, was honored as the Employee of the Quarter. One of the perks that all employees can enjoy is ordering the custom Employee of the Quarter sandwich in the cafeteria. Jose’s favorite sandwich is a Milanesa torta on ciabatta bread with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, green chile and a slice of pepper jack cheese.

Jose Islas Receiving Employee of the Quarter Award

Harnessing the Sun’s Energy

Southwestern College is estimated to save about $8.4 million over 25 years with the installation of new solar panels in parking lots across the Chula Vista campus. The Governing Board unanimously approved a contract with SunPower Corporation. Installation is scheduled to begin in April.

Corner Lot Construction

The Governing Board Voted selected M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc. as the architect to design the projects for the corner lot of the Chula Vista campus. Gensler is already busy meeting with user groups to include their ideas in the design of the new wellness and aquatics center. If you are interested in having somebody from the college present information on Proposition R, please sign up at

Teachers Give Back During Sabbatical

Kathy L. Tyner, vice president for academic affairs; and Randy Beach, academic senate president showcased a video on what faculty members did during their sabbaticals last year. Here are some highlights:

  • Many teachers said they worked to improve the effectiveness of their online classes or wrote textbooks and guides for their field of study.
  • Dr. Jeff Nevin compiled mariachi music that had never been written and created sheet music for local high school bands to use.
  • Professor Valerie Pennington worked on her educational YouTube channel “The Penguin Professor” and shared a personal anecdote about a Saudi female who sneaks out of her home to learn biology from the professor’s YouTube videos.
  • Southwestern’s photo department constructed a new webpage, and added tutorials for their equipment.

Later in the meeting the governing board approved sabbatical leave for nine professors, eight for Fall and Spring of next year, and one for just the Spring of 2015.

Four-Year Degrees in Community College

In a special workshop, the Governing Board hosted San Diego Community College District Chancellor Dr. Constance Carroll to understand California Senate Bill 850, which would allow bachelor degrees to be offered at community colleges.

Carroll’s presentation cited a growing trend amongst state legislators in other states allowing community college bachelor degrees and California’s own history of allowing community college bachelor degrees on a case-to-case basis. She also presented statistics showing the demand of skilled laborers and how offering more four-year options for students would help California meet those workforce needs.

The Southwestern College Governing Board has adopted a resolution in favor of community college’s offering four-year degrees in specific workforce areas.

Other actions taken in February:

  • Southwestern College District presented and the governing board approved an audit of Proposition R and AA spending.
  • Approved a contract with Urban Corps of San Diego County for recycling collection on campus.
  • Updated and approved Southwestern’s honorary degree policy.

Puente Agreement Renewed

Southwestern College renewed its agreement with the Puente Project, an organization whose goal is to increase the rate that educationally disadvantage students are enrolling and/or transferring to four-year universities.

Under the agreement Southwestern is required to teach Pre-English and English 1A classes and retain counselor and writing tutor staff for Puente students.

Puente will provide training for staff and $1,500 for mentor support.

Zero Cost Agreements

Southwestern College entered into three agreements with community organizations with budget-neutral effects:

  • Entered into a job training agreement with South University in Savannah Georgia. Students from South University will receive internship training at Southwestern College with curriculum set by South University, but taught by Southwestern Faculty.
  • Southwestern’s Center for International Trade Development (CITD) entered into partnership with Camara Nacional de la Industrial de la Transformacion (CANACINTRA) opening doors for improved export opportunities for CITD’s clients.
  • Approved a contract with Sharp HealthCare giving Southwestern students clinic training experience at no cost to the College.

Other actions taken in March:

  • Casamar Group, LLC was chosen to act as the project labor coordinator for facilities master plan construction.
  • Marlene Imirzian & Associates Architects, Ltd., was chosen to design the new math & science center.
  • A partnership was approved between Yosemite Community College District, Child Development Training Consortium and Southwestern College.
  • Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish, Accreditation Liaison Officer Dr. Mink Stavenga and Rebecca Wolniewicz, institutional student learning outcomes coordinator, presented an update on Southwestern’s accreditation, reviewing past recommendations from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, and showcasing recent changes in their process.

Honorary Degree Recipients

A select committee of Southwestern College Administrators and Faculty recommended two honorary degree recipients to the board:

  • Irv Silverstein, DDS for his continual efforts to bring dental work to the poor not only locally but elsewhere in the world.
  • William Alexander Virchis, theatre arts educator and multicultural performance advocate for his constant work as a liaison between higher education, performance arts and civil rights.

Contracts Approval

Faculty members, classified employees and academic administrators will be seeing a 1.57% salary increase effective retroactively from July, 2013.

Additionally the Southwestern College District agreed to contribute $400,000 more into the employees’ health and welfare plans each year.

Other actions taken in April:

  • John Clark was hired as Vice President of Human Resources.
  • The board revised the success and support program policy for students. The purpose of Student Success and Support Program services is to bring the student and SWC into agreement regarding the student’s educational goal through the District’s established programs, policies, and requirements.

Prop. R Update

Spring 2014 is bursting with a choir of drills and hammers as Prop. R construction gets closer to completion.

Fieldhouse classrooms have entered the interior design phase and they will be ready for occupation this fall.

Central plant extension construction began in late March. Its completion will mark another major milestone for Prop. R construction.

The college’s H Street entrance will reopen April 21 after the completion of the project to realign the road around Lot J. Parking will still be off limits through the summer as the new solar project construction begins.

A future emergency communication network has been designed for Southwestern College. Expect to see its completion soon.

Three of the four cornerstones of the of the facility master plan – the new math and science building, the wellness center, and the performing arts center – are all entering planning stages.  The forth pillar, the stadium, will be finished by fall.


  • The National City campus will be entering the environmental planning phase for their new building.
  • Southwestern’s Chula Vista campus will be getting updated furniture and interiors as well as new audio-visual equipment.
  • Classrooms will be receiving new locks, to increase safety.
  • Fire and drinking water lines will be updated.

Last updated: 7/2/2014 3:47:18 PM