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December, 2013

A Year in Review
photo of GB President Peraza with title It has been an eventful year at Southwestern College, and one that has created some defining events for the college. This year, we took formal action to refocus our development efforts for the corner lot—based upon data and research. We addressed our budget issues and improved financial stability for the college. And we set goals to improve student transfer rates.

In the spring, we welcomed new Governing Board Member Nora Vargas. Her perspective as a Southwestern College alumnus and her passion for education have helped us keep our focus on students.

During our opening day ceremonies and in conversations throughout the year, college faculty and administrators have been compiling strategies to help increase student achievement. Last month, members of the Governing Board attended the Association of Community College Trustees and adapted the statewide policy agenda to Southwestern College’s priorities. Together, we are working to remove obstacles and to provide the resources students need to reach their educational goals.

To ensure we have adequate resources for an exceptional academic program and student support services, we have been working diligently to address economic challenges. The passage of Proposition 30 has allowed us to begin hiring full-time faculty again and has given us funding to serve more students this year. As South County’s only public institution of higher education—and the most affordable option—our mission is to provide access and ensure student success.

With Centers throughout South County, Southwestern College offers higher education opportunities to residents where they live. A major accomplishment this year was earning center status for the Higher Education Centers in National City and San Ysidro. With approval from the California Community College’s Board of Governors, center status means additional funds and resources for two of our neediest communities.

As a Governing Board, we have also been serious about implementing cost savings and finding new avenues to generate revenue on campus. We approved a solar energy initiative this year and expect to have the final details worked out before the summer. We also have approved new regulations and pricing for rental of college facilities and fields to generate additional funds.

Our Proposition R program is back on track, and we’ll be moving quickly over the next few months to get projects started. Perhaps the most anticipated projects will be those to be built on the corner lot. Based on academic needs, financial feasibility and property configuration, we’ll be building a new wellness center and performing arts center on the corner. Moving the health sciences buildings and pool will allow us tear down those old facilities and replace them with a new multi-story math, science and engineering (MSE) complex. These courses are some of our most in-demand and a requirement for transfer to four-year universities. Since last summer, the MSE department has been busy researching new instructional strategies and their facilities requirements to ensure the new complex offers cutting edge technologies and prepares students for the growing STEM industries.

Exciting things are happening at Southwestern College. It has been my honor to serve as Governing Board president this year. I wish you a safe and memorable holiday season and best wishes for a prosperous new year.
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October, 2013

From the Boardroom
photo of GB President Peraza with titleMidway through the fall, the Governing Board continues to address issues that affect the academic success of students and the financial well-being of the college. Included in this issue are highlights of Governing Board meetings in October.

Student Success Update
The Governing Board accepted a student success update that outlined the college’s efforts to improve academic achievement and pass rates.

The presentation detailed:
  • The advancement of student online tools to help students create their own education plans.
  • Increased push to get students eligible for graduation to graduate.
  • A report showing that student persistence in Math and English is up overall, but outlined student groups still facing challenges.
  • First-year experience programs that are being implemented, including a summer math boot camp.

Southwestern College Governing Board members are joining community college trustees throughout California in implementing a policy agenda that aligns resources and partnerships to improve student completion rates. We have committed to reviewing our board goals twice a year to ensure they are aligned to student success and the completion agenda. We are also requesting Student Success-focused workshops twice each semester to monitor progress. We understand this sense of urgency and we will bring together all available resources to improve student success.

The Governing Board will present the policy agenda and our efforts at a board workshop on Nov. 20.

Corner Lot Approval
Programing and design for the corner lot was approved 4-1. Using more than $100 million from the Prop. R bond measure, the corner lot will feature a state-of-the-art wellness center with a gym and pools and a new and improved performing arts and cultural center.

The board validated the academic and community needs for these buildings through a feasibility study, conducted by an outside firm. The wellness center construction will allow Southwestern to tear down existing physical education facilities and build a new multi-story math, science and engineering building in its place. The corner lot facilities will also create revenue generation opportunities for the college.

Revenue Generation
A team consisting of Priya Jerome, director of procurement, central services and risk management; Joe Fighera, director of food services and the bookstore; and Dean Terry Davis presented their a report on potential revenue generation activities for the college.

Since last year, the revenue generated by the college has increased by 51 percent.

The report estimated that independent revenue can significantly increase—by an estimated nearly $800,000—by 2016.

Sources of increased income include:
  • Athletic Property Rentals
  • Cell Towers
  • Long-Term Leases
  • Short-Term Rentals
  • Swap Meets
  • Stadium Rental and Advertising (2014-2015)
  • Bookstore Revenue
  • Food Service (expected profit by 2015-2016 school year)
  • Wellness Center (2015-2016)
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August 14-September 11

From the Boardroom
With the fall semester in a full gallop, the Southwestern College Governing Board has been working on some substantial issues.photo of GB President Peraza with title

August 14th, 2013

Distance Education
 
        The annual report on distance education activities was presented to the Governing Board at the August 14 meeting. 
        The report detailed Southwestern College’s continuing effort to provide accessible education to all students and detailed the following: 
            • Distance education enrollment trends 
            • Distance education outcomes comparison 
            • Student satisfaction survey results 
            • College distance education activities 
        The number of full-time equivalent students enrolling in distance education classes has increased steadily since 2010-11—from 2,044 to 2,570 in 2012-13. Distance education classes now represent about 19% of all the courses offered at Southwestern, with retention and completion rates being nearly equal to those of students enrolled in face-to-face classes, 81.2% and 81.7% respectively. Student surveys show satisfaction with distance education courses is generally favorable. Southwestern College is currently looking at developing an orientation class to help students understand the unique requirements of online classes.

Fiscal Independence 
        The Governing Board has directed staff to pursue fiscal independence for the college. Earlier this year, the Governing Board was presented with the option to continue contracting with the county for $500,000 for the first five years, with no estimates of ongoing costs after the first five years. The presentation also explained that the county’s payroll system would be incompatible with the implementation of our new Ellucian system. The Board also received information on going fiscally independent. 
        Achieving fiscal independence will allow Southwestern College to issue its own warrants under the provisions of Education Code Section 85266.5. Fiscal independence will also allow the district to implement and oversee a payroll system that truly integrates with the district’s financial system, allowing for greater transparency and budget planning. 
        The Governing Board unanimously approved applying to the San Diego County Office of Education for fiscal independence. 
        Other actions taken in August: 
            • A report was presented by Southwestern College Foundation president. 
            • Approved, as amended, a response on behalf of Southwestern College to the County Grand Jury.

September 11, 2013

Budget Approval 
        The 2013-14 district budget was approved with a $600,806 deficit, allowing the full restoration of all employee salary reductions. 
        The budget also included a 5% governing board reserve. 
        The board stressed the need for immediate budget development of the 2014-2015 year, with the overall goal of bringing balance to the budget.

Prop R Report 
        Work on the field house classroom building is progressing rapidly with the foundations completed. A special worker celebration will be held in October. 
        Additionally, plans have begun for phase two of the National City campus expansion and procurement for the solar panel project is also in full swing. 
     
Employee of the Quarter Shelley Carbajal-Employee of the Quarter
        Ms. Shelley Carbajal, Benefits Specialist, was named Employee of the Quarter. She was presented her award by Dr. Albert Román, Vice President for Human Resources, and Maggie Croft, representative of confidential employees. 
        Other actions taken in September: 
            • Established program director position for the medical technician, paramedic and fire science programs at the Otay Mesa Higher Education Center. 
            • Adopted a resolution making September 15th-October 15th Hispanic Heritage Month. 
         

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July 11, 2013

From the Boardroom
With summer session in full spring this month, developments through Proposition R are also moving ahead quickly. photo of President Peraza and his title

We begin by welcoming our new and returning Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee members. Each member represents specific stakeholder groups and serves two-year terms.
• Robert Clark, student representative
• Lou Ferraro, senior citizen group representative
• Michael Govea, advisory or foundation representative
• Matt Kriz, taxpayer organization representative
• Robert C. Muff, at-large community representative
• Nicholas J. Segura, Jr., at-large community representative

As requested by the Governing Board, a feasibility study on the size and scope of a proposed wellness center and performing arts center for the development at East H Street and Otay Lakes Road began this month. By the end of August, we’ll have data that shows what the community need and demand are for these proposed facilities.

Photo of tilted solar carportsGoing Solar
The college’s efforts to save money through solar energy are closer to reality. Over the last several months, staff have identified four large parking lots on the Chula Vista campus on which to place tilted solar carports that will harness solar energy and provide covered parking simultaneously. Construction is expected to be completed next summer. When fully operational, the college will be able to generate between 2 and 3 megawatts of power, which has the potential to reduce campus energy usage by 50% to 80%.

In other action, the Governing Board:
• Accepted more than $47,000 in police tactical gear from the Beverly Hills Police Department for Southwestern College Campus Police.
• Approved policies on Budget Management, Budget Preparation and Fiscal Management.
• Accepted a $179,843 subcontract from the National Science Foundation, “GeoTech Center: Innovation in Geospatial Information Science and Technology Education.”
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with California State University, Sacramento for students to take classes on campus that will help them earn a bachelor’s degree in Early Development Care and Education from CSU-Sacramento. 

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June 6, 2013
From the Boardroom photo of President Peraza and his title
       One of the most rewarding events Governing Board members attend each year is our Commencement ceremony. 
        There was additional excitement this year as it was the first commencement ceremony for our newest Governing Board Member Nora E. Vargas. An alumnus herself, Vargas joined us in celebrating the achievements of our graduates. 
        Like the 51 graduating classes before them, this year’s graduates are an accomplished group. Our graduates have volunteered in dental clinics and hospitals. They have tutored young students and each other. They have grown as student leaders and reached out to mentor incoming freshmen. 
        They have made us proud with their accomplishments and the recognition they have earned from organizations big and small—locally and statewide. 
        By the numbers, we had 1,010 students earn an Associate Degree of Arts (AA) or an Associate Degree of Science (AS) this spring and summer. They join the 296 graduates with an AA or AS from Fall 2012. We also had a number of students who earned Certificates of Achievement in the fall, spring and summer: 282. 
        Our graduates will now progress to four-year universities or the workplace with increased skills and marketability. Congratulations!

photo of happy graduating studentsGranting Honorary Degrees 
        Joining our graduates were two members of our community who were conferred with Honorary Degrees from Southwestern College. 
        Cindy Gompper-Graves, the CEO of the South County Economic Development Council, was recognized for her support and contributions to Southwestern College’s mission of workforce development. 
        Screenplay, television, and comic book writer as well as former journalist J. Michael Straczynski—also a Southwestern College alumnus—received an honorary degree for the international impact he has made in the science fiction writing genre and for his support and funding to The Sun newspaper.

Looking Ahead to the Governing Board Meeting 
        As is our tradition to bring the Governing Board meeting to the distinct areas we serve, our June meeting will be held at the Crown Cove Aquatic Center on the Silver Strand. Some of the highlights will be the swearing in our own new Student Trustee Laura del Castillo and approving a contract for the design and construction of solar generation projects on campus.
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April 30, 2013
From the Boardroom photo of President Peraza and his title

        It is my pleasure to welcome Nora Vargas to the Southwestern College Governing Board. 
        Nora is a Southwestern College graduate who brings to the board a wealth of community advocacy and experience in bringing together strategic partnerships. She has spent the last several months attending Governing Board meetings to understand the complex issues facing Southwestern College. This will help her to hit the ground running as we finish this academic year.
        I want to thank the many talented, passionate community members who applied for the Governing Board vacancy. Each had the opportunity to present their qualifications to the board and to the public during a special meeting on Thursday, April 25. My colleagues and I then narrowed the field from 12 to six finalists who answered questions meant to determine their knowledge of budgets, shared governance, establishing trust among staff and increasing student transfer rates to four-year universities.
        Once again, our community continues to offer its strong support for the mission of Southwestern College. As Governing Board members, we work hard each day to make decisions in the best interests of our students.

Embarking on an Exciting Journey 
        Since 2010, the Governing Board has worked diligently to re-establish strict business protocols in day-to-day operations and Proposition R procurement. An independent review confirmed we had some work to do in those areas, and college staff has done an outstanding job in implementing the 20-point action plan to “right the ship.” 
        Part of our commitment to the community was to conduct new Educational and Facilities Master Plans so that our future construction projects would better reflect Southwestern College’s strengths and opportunities. 
        After nine months of meeting with stakeholders across the campus and community, the consultants presented their findings and proposals to the Governing Board on April 24. After much thoughtful discussion, the board unanimously accepted the Educational and Facilities Master Plan. 
        Now the detailed work begins. The college will continue improving its data systems to better help students meet their educational and career goals. Meetings will be held with faculty and deans to maximize course offerings that reflect career and university transfer trends. And designs for the first phase of major construction projects will be jumpstarted. 
        These are exciting times for our students, faculty, staff and community. Not since the founders of the college began construction on this acreage has there been as much potential before us.

Bold Statement Supporting Immigration Reform 
        Each day hundreds of students come to Southwestern College in search of an education that creates a better life for themselves and their families. Thanks to the Dream Act, many of them are now empowered to step out of the shadows to take their rightful place as students, without the fear of recrimination. 
        As a college, we support comprehensive immigration reform that will open doors to higher education to thousands of students by providing a legal process that supports learners and productive members of our community. 
        That dream of higher education was very eloquently explained to us at the April 10 Governing Board meeting. Guadalupe O., David R., Jairo G. and other students of the IDEAS club on campus told of their personal journeys to study here. They were compelling and heartfelt. 
        That is why the Governing Board did not hesitate to approve Resolution No. 1796—in support of a reasonable and humane approach to reforming the current immigration system. 
        We have forwarded our resolution to our federal legislators to add to their conversations on immigration reform.

Last updated: 4/11/2014 2:41:54 PM