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Fall Semester Update

August 20, 2012

Greetings Southwestern Colleagues:

Welcome Back!

Students perform dental work at the Higher Education Center at National City.Crown Cove Aquatic Center began its fall semester with the American Indian Youth Summer Camp.
More opening week photos below

The new school year brings much promise and potential. I am hoping you were as inspired by the students’ stories at the opening day ceremony as I was.

Listening to them talk about how each of you inspires them and encourages them is a great way to kick start an already exciting time of the year.

The new school year also is a time where we can implement some of the initiatives that we may have reflected upon over the summer.

Student Achievement

In my reflections over the summer, I can see that we spent a lot of time in the spring resolving construction issues and dealing with the budget. This focus has sometimes distracted us from our primary mission of helping students achieve their educational goals. That was crystallized for our Governing Board and leadership last month with the publication of a simple chart in the Union-Tribune. It pulled data from the National Center for Education Statistics and compared Southwestern College’s graduation and transfer rate with other local community colleges. The bad news: we came in last among the community colleges listed.

We can argue about the method in which the newspaper interpreted the data. And we can argue that we have students who face many challenges: 75% are working while attending classes here; they have family responsibilities; the data used only counts full-time students who begin in the fall yet the vast majority of our students are part-time; that many of our students are working through basic skills classes; and that we have had to reduce courses and support services.

Yes, all of that is true. But let’s look at the data.

Student Progress and Achievement Rate

This information is from the Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges (ARCC) from the Chancellor’s office. The red bars represent the percentage of first-time students who showed intent to complete and who achieved any of the following outcomes within six years: transferred to a four-year college; or earned an AA/AS; or earned a Certificate; or achieved “Transfer Directed” status; or achieved “Transfer Prepared” status.  The blue bars are the state average of all community colleges.

We are currently at 48.3%, the lowest we have been in the reporting period and we are consistently under the state average. We can do better!  Our students have told us they will do better if we expect more from them. We must do the same. We have to set high goals for ourselves and we will. 

Let us all commit to a full 10% increase, from 48% to 58% achievement by 2015. And, let’s not stop there, our goal is to realize no less than a 65% student achievement rate by 2020.

Student Progress and Achievement Rate

We’ve already accomplished much. As part of our accreditation self-study, we’ve defined and assessed all of our outcomes and we are in the process of reviewing the data to determine areas of improvement. We have the synergy to match these outcomes and their assessment with what we need in preparing students to succeed.

We will continue to provide access, but we will commit ourselves to not just helping students get here, but helping them succeed and reach their educational goals while they are here.

Over the course of this year, I look forward to working with all of our constituency groups to create action plans that will take us—and our students—to our goals.

Budget Update

Governor Brown has produced his first television ad in support of Prop. 30: The Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012.
There will be much discussion from now until Election Day, but polling earlier this month shows the initiative with a 56.7% approval rating.

Part of our information efforts will be to help voters understand the difference between Prop. 30—which provide funding for community colleges—and the competing Prop. 38 measure—which does not include funding for community colleges.

Recently, all California community colleges completed a survey to create baseline data on the potential impacts of non-passage of Prop. 30. The survey asked colleges to include information on whether there had been reductions in course sections, reduction in force and/or salary reductions.

At Southwestern, we have 4.17% fewer sections this fall compared to last fall but our enrollment is up by over 3% as compared to last fall.  On opening day, our sections are 90% full, which means that even with fewer sections we hope to serve more students.  This is only possible due to the smart scheduling efforts of our department chairs and deans who have been working closely with faculty to schedule the courses most needed by our students. 

That being said, we are highly impacted: 1,181 sections have waitlists and approximately 11,812 students (duplicated) are on those lists. 

We’ve reduced staff in categorical programs by 25% and reduced hours of service in student services by 11%, including reducing counselors and counseling hours. Other effected programs include EOPS, DSS, matriculation and CalWorks. 

Overall, faculty, staff, and administrators have reduced in number as well: full-time faculty by 8.47%, staff by 5.62% and administration by 16.67%. 

These reductions directly impact students, but those reductions would have been more severe without your 5% pay reduction. Thank you again for thinking of our students.

Finally, we are closing the books on the 2011-12 year and are presenting the budget to the Governing Board this Wednesday, August 22, in an open meeting workshop.  Everyone is invited to attend. 

Your constituency leaders have been in close contact with our new Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs, Steve Crow, this summer and we anticipate immediately returning to formal discussion and negotiations to work toward budget solutions for 2013-14 and beyond. 

Please look for regular updates on this website.  We have many projects and initiatives this year, including Educational and Facilities Master Planning, cost savings plans including our “going paperless” initiative, our annual Gala, Prop R projects in full swing, such as our new Field House and DeVore Stadium, and many more.  This site will be a place where you can keep up with what is happening in the District and how you can participate. 

Thank you for all you do to welcome our students onto our campus and centers!  Go Jags!

Foundation Gala

Excitement is building for this year's Gift of Scholarship at the annual Foundation Gala. College employees have until the end of August to purchase tickets at the discounted rate of $100. This year's gala will be held under the stars in front of Mayan Hall on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Money raised from the gala helps the SWC Foundation provide nearly $100,000 annually in student scholarships as well as underwrite student and faculty activities.

Please call the Office of Institutional Effectiveness for tickets, (619) 482-6426.

Opening Week Photos

Students perform dental work at the Higher Education Center at National City.Students play music during a break at the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa.

Students perform dental work at the Higher Education Center at National City.
Students gather in a hallway at the Higher Education Center at San Ysidro.

Students perform dental work at the Higher Education Center at National City.Students perform dental work at the Higher Education Center at National City.

Students fill the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Center on the Chula Vista campus.Students fill the Cesar E. Chavez Student Services Center on the Chula Vista campus.