Norma L. Hernandez
Governing Board President
Friends of Southwestern College,
The meeting of March 14, 2012, will go down as one of the most important meetings of this Governing Board since we took office. It also could be one of the most important in the history of this college. We as your Governing Board act as one and speak with a unified voice.
Three key issues were addressed and decisions were taken that will impact this institution for years to come.
With the release of the Focused Special Review and Internal Analysis, as well as approval of “Prop R New Look 2025,” we have charted a course of work that will not just correct past mistakes but set a new standard for transparent decision making. It takes courage to admit mistakes but resolve to fix them. As Interim Vice President C.M. Brahmbhatt said, “we know what we need to do and the easy part was making the decision to implement our New Look. The hard part is next: to do what we have said we will do. That will take extremely hard work.”
The most difficult topic of the evening, without a doubt, was the compensation for vice presidents. We were very impressed with the clear and cogent arguments that were made by many of you for accepting or rejecting the staff recommendation to improve the salary range of vice presidents. The Board greatly appreciated and valued everyone who stepped up to present their ideas and the thoughtful manner in which they were presented.
Compensation discussions are difficult, but this Board is not afraid to engage in thoughtful dialogue about such issues. Each of us honors the majority vote taken and we will act as a body to support this decision. We have confidence in our new Superintendent/President, Dr. Melinda Nish and will hold her accountable to implement this plan in the most fiscally efficient manner possible and accomplish the goals of stabilizing our top management.
The third issue covered, campaign finance reform, again was an issue with many sides and with many opinion differences. We feel the Board demonstrated the capability to exercise honest differences of opinion but settle on a majority decision without rancor. Again, now that the vote has been taken and the majority’s decision is made, the Board as a unit stands behind it.
Our Board decisions are not taken to benefit specific people or constituencies. As C.M. noted, this college is larger than any one single group or any individual. All of us must continue to be focused upon what is best for this institution as a whole. As elected Governing Board members we must take actions that benefit the long-term needs of the college.
It is our responsibility as a governing board to model collegial discourse as we reach decisions for the college and then act as a unified body once those decisions are made. As Student Trustee and ASO President Claudia Duran stated during the meeting, she is very proud to be part of this Board where, when there is difference of opinion, the conversation still is robust and conducted with a lot of collegiality and respect.
With the Board modeling this kind of behavior, it is our hope that all of the college constituencies do the same. That is the way—frankly the only way—we will go as a college from looking forward to moving forward.
Norma L. Hernandez, Governing Board President
Humberto Peraza, Governing Board Vice President