Governing Board President
Friends of Southwestern College,
As we head into the season of thanksgiving and reflection, I would like to start by remembering our veterans and noting our College District’s particular connection to the veteran community.
I am blessed to have benefitted from those, including my father, who served our country in uniform, without myself having been called on to do so. I believe those of us who have never worn a military uniform can thank and honor those who have, both by supporting our veterans' rights to the benefits they have earned and by using our talents to make the very best of this great country for which our veterans have risked everything.
I want to thank all our faculty and staff who work to make educational opportunities available to our veterans, and especially want to acknowledge and thank those on our campus who are directly involved in providing services that assist our student veterans in pursuing their education. With more than 1,000 veterans attending classes in the fall semester and more expected in the spring, Southwestern College plays a key role in helping our service members adapt to and prosper in the civilian economy.
These numbers are rising at a time of increasing budgetary challenges for Southwestern College, other community colleges, and, in fact, California’s entire educational system.
As grants and other sources of funds dry up, we are beginning to see impacts on key areas of student support. This month the Governing Board heard reports about funding running out for the Learning Assistance program – tutoring which costs $2,000 to $2,500 per class each semester and which helps make a measurable improvement in student achievement. Tutoring which future students will soon have to do without if another source of revenue for the program cannot be found.
More changes are expected in January. A revenue shortfall forecast by California's nonpartisan budget analyst will likely trigger another $2 billion in state cuts, including $72 million to community colleges. It is anticipated that by Summer 2012 the College District will likely be required to raise tuition again, from $36 per unit to $46 per unit.
Fortunately, if that word can be applied in this situation, Southwestern College has been planning for the worst and budgeting with restraint. The decisions the College District is likely to have to make may be painful, but if we have planned well they will not be drastic. Unfortunately, for reasons outside our control, we are seeing a slow and steady degradation of services to students.
This cautious approach will continue under incoming Superintendent/President Melinda Nish. Nish, who officially joins us on January 2, 2012, has been working with Interim Superintendent Denise Whittaker to ensure a smooth transition. Much has been said, and will continue to be said, about the far-reaching and substantial contributions that Superintendent Whittaker has made to the stability and morale of the college community. I hope that you will join me and the rest of the Governing Board in thanking her and wishing her well in her future endeavors.
Governing Board President