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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Media Contact
Lillian Leopold, office (619) 482-6564, cell (619) 279-1627

Community College Board of Governors President Visits SWC

Scott Himelstein Hears College’s Successes, Tours Campus

Board of Governors President Scott Himelstein tours Southwestern College and listens to Jim Jones, coordinator of Veteran Services on campus. Pictured L-R: Himelstein, ASO President Claudia Duran and Jones.CHULA VISTA ­– In his first visit to Southwestern College, Community College Board of Governors President Scott Himelstein toured a campus that has made a dramatic turnaround in governance, business practices and student success initiatives.

Himelstein’s visit is part of his ongoing efforts to become more familiar with programs at California’s community colleges -- especially those in San Diego County. In meeting with Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish and other college leadership Tuesday, Himelstein reviewed how Southwestern is aligning Student Learning Objectives with Chancellor’s Student Success Task Force Recommendations.

“We strongly support the Student Success Task Force recommendations,” Nish said. “It’s not just about having our doors open and increasing access, but in ensuring our students succeed in meeting their educational goals.”

To increase student success, leadership at the college, in collaboration with Associated Student Organization (ASO) leadership have worked diligently the last few years to increase student involvement in all aspects of the campus. This year the ASO chartered its 55th student club—the most in the history of the college. Student clubs are making presentations to the Governing Board about their activities. This increased student involvement has taken a giant step in creating cohesiveness among a transient student population, those on campus say.

“We have students talking about college issues and how they have become involved,” said Claudia Duran, ASO president and the student trustee on the Governing Board.

Himelstein toured the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Center—the one stop for 21 programs and student services—and chatted with coordinators of Financial Aid, Extended Opportunities Programs & Services and Veteran Services. Getting information regarding these specialized services for underrepresented students and veterans was important for Himelstein as he advocates for them on the Board of Governors, he said.
Himelstein asked Nish about the college’s recent completion of its accreditation process, and heard about the campus-wide effort for full re-accreditation.

“We have made a significant, transformative turnaround,” Nish said. “We’ve been really open and working actively so the South Bay knows what we are doing.”

Nish asked Himelstein what the funding forecast was for California, and he stated it wasn’t positive.

Himelstein explained that he would like to see legislation that changes the funding formula beyond the Proposition 98 thresholds, and allows community colleges to keep their tuition, like at the University of California and California State University systems.

“I would like us to move out of the funding formula that is parallel with the K-12 system,” Himelstein said. “Until we are able to control more of our destiny and not ‘compete’ with K-12, we’ll continue to having funding problems.”

About Southwestern College

Established in 1961, Southwestern College is the only public institution of higher education in southern San Diego County, serving approximately 400,000 residents of communities including Bonita, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Nestor, Otay Mesa, Palm City, San Ysidro, Sunnyside and Coronado. The College District offers more than 300 associate degree and certificate options.