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July 1, 2014

What Are Our Students Doing This Summer?

Southwestern College is abuzz with students taking advantage of our summer class offerings. With classes on the Chula Vista campus, all the Higher Education Centers and at Crown Cove, students are getting a jump on the new year, or are finishing up the last classes they need for their degrees and certificates.

Enrollment this year stands at 7,124 unduplicated head count, which is a slight decrease from last year. But we have a core group of students attending our summer bridge program through EOPS and the math boot camp. Students have been getting to know each other and becoming familiar with the many student support resources we have on campus.

I was able to meet the EOPS summer bridge students as they took a break from their icebreaker activities and personal development class recently. The students were able to explore the peaceful Botanic Garden and have fun while they became our newest learning community.

EOPS Summer Bridge Program

EOPS Summer Bridge Program

Summer Math Center

At the other end of campus in the Math Center, new freshmen were brushing up their math skills so they could better their placement on our math assessment tests. Part of a two-week Math Summer Boot Camp, these students were enrolled in the Math 295 pilot course and drilling on advanced mathematical concepts they haven’t studied in a while.

Math Boot Camp students were able to work independently in MyMathTest, a computer program that provided them a personalized study plan to remediate concepts they did not show mastery on. The students also worked with a math instructor for additional assistance, and also met with a college counselor to access support services and learn about transfer requirements.

Data from the first two-week session is promising. Of the 17 students who took the assessment test after the boot camp, 11 attained a higher placement, with two of them moving up two levels. In post-class surveys, students provided positive feedback.

While students, faculty and staff work through the summer, we’re already gearing up for Fall semester. Registration begins today, and with new enrollment priorities rolling out, there will be lots of student questions. We’re preparing information materials for students as well as faculty and employees so that we can all have a better understanding of the changes and their impact. Stay tuned for updates.

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May 23, 2014

Celebrating our Students

The 2013-14 academic year has come to a close, and the last few weeks have been filled with celebrations to acknowledge the tremendous achievements of our students.

In end-of-the-year ceremonies hundreds of students have followed in the time-honored traditions of programs such as DSS, EOPS and ESL. They have been recognized for their participation in MESA and Puente. Dental Hygiene and Associate Degree in Nursing graduates will receive pins that will be worn on their uniforms and be a daily reminder of their education and training at Southwestern College. And we will send them off with scholarship funds—nearly $126,000—to help them further their education.

As we head toward commencement on June 3, we will be conferring degrees and certificates to one of our largest graduating classes—1,552 degrees and 338 certificates. This graduating class not only persisted, they succeeded in achieving their academic goals, despite the Great Recession. That is the greatest reward of all.

This year’s SODA winners
This year’s SODA winners.


MESA award winners pose with Mr. and Mrs. Bill Barkhurst of the Lipp Family Foundation
MESA award winners pose with Mr. and Mrs. Bill Barkhurst of the Lipp Family Foundation.


Professor Surian Figueroa stands in celebration with her students
Professor Surian Figueroa stands in celebration with her students.


This year’s DSS graduates
This year’s DSS graduates.


EOPS Celebration
The students recognized at this year’s EOPS celebration.


Puente students receiving their graduation stoles
Puente students receiving their graduation stoles.


Higher Education Center-San Ysidro Marks Milestone

Among the student celebrations, we all took time to commemorate the 25 years of education Southwestern College has provided in San Ysidro. What began as a tragic event, turned into a tribute and a promise to the community. That day, we recommitted ourselves to the promise, which reads in part:

Because many of those affected by that tragedy were young, it is fitting that we honor their vitality by dedicating this land to education and to a means of improving the lives of those they left behind.

Special thanks to Governing Board Norma Hernandez, who was Vice President for Student Services at the time, and former Superintendent/President Joe Conte for their vision of a lasting memorial that has changed the lives of thousands of residents.

To keep the joy alive, we’ll be creating a time capsule of the event to be unveiled at the center’s 50th anniversary. Stay tuned.

Higher Education Center San Ysidro 25th Anniversary

County Supervisor Greg Cox delivered a proclamation, announcing that May 8, 2014 was Higher Education Center San Ysidro Day in the County of San Diego
County Supervisor Greg Cox delivered a proclamation, announcing that May 8, 2014 was Higher Education Center San Ysidro Day in the County of San Diego.

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April 24, 2014

Sobering Statistics
Community colleges across California saw their completion rates decrease this year because of the Great Recession’s impact on college budgets and course offerings over the last seven years. Southwestern College was no different.

The completion rate for the cohort of students beginning at Southwestern College in 2007-08 was 43.5%, which is below the state average and at the lower end of completion rates of our group of peer colleges.

There is optimism on the horizon, however. Our three-pronged effort to increase completion rates will go into full effect this summer and fall. Created by thoughtful discussion among all college stakeholders—faculty, staff and students—the three initiatives were selected because of their ability to positively affect completion and transfer.

At the top of the list is having students complete an education plan, and the college is creating an online version that will allow students to input information 24/7. The electronic education plan is being piloted this spring, with full implementation in the fall.

The education plan is a student’s roadmap to success and completion. With more than 300 degrees and certificates offered at the college, we want to ensure students are selecting the classes that will help them achieve their educational goals more quickly.

The college is also reviewing completion data for each program and certificate to find the bottlenecks that may be delaying students. So that we all have the same information, I am proposing we hold a data summit this spring. We have no way of addressing gaps and identifying solutions if we don’t all review the data.

It was in reviewing the data in math achievement that we created the summer boot camp to help incoming freshmen refresh their math skills before taking Southwestern College placement exams—the third prong of our efforts. This concentrated review has already begun to earn dividends. The percentage of students testing below transfer level math and completing a college-level course in six years increased significantly from 19.2% last year to 24.7% this year.

Troubling about this year’s scorecard, however, is the decrease in areas for both those who come to Southwestern College prepared and unprepared for college-level work. Those who enroll in three consecutive terms (persistence on the scorecard) saw decreases for prepared and unprepared students.

The Student Success Agenda is very important to me and the Governing Board. In November, the Governing Board created a policy agenda that included 16 items that would help guide our decisions, actions and programs. Next Wednesday, we’ll have a chance to update the board on the status of our initiatives.

We will all need to be pulling in the same direction if we expect to come close to the stretch goal of 58% completion rate by 2015.

To see the full scorecard for Southwestern College, click here.

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April 7, 2014

Examples of Excellence

As we head into Spring Break next week, it’s a great time to recognize achievements by employees and students for their hard work and dedication to Southwestern College.

Employee of the Quarter

We begin by recognizing our Employee of the Quarter, Jose Islas. An administrative secretary in the School of Math, Science and Engineering, Jose is a tremendous support to every special event on campus. Whether he’s taking photos at commencement, helping set up and taking down the streetpainting festival or preparing for opening day, Jose can always be counted on to make projects a success. Since his move to MSE, Jose has been critical in supporting MESA students as they seek internships. Jose also undertook the enormous job of revising forms for Tenure Review to make them more user-friendly. Jose does many of these activities behind the scenes, but they surely do not go unnoticed. Congratulations Jose for this much-deserved recognition.

Dean Mazzarella introduces Jose Islas as the Employee of the Quarter.
Dean Mazzarella introduces Jose Islas as the Employee of the Quarter.

Ensuring Campus and Student Security 

Three employees are being recognized by Police Chief Michael Cash for their dedication to duty, quick actions and commitment to ensuring the safety of fellow employees and students. Last month police dispatcher Kathleen Brown developed a safety alert and photo of a convicted felon and sexual predator who frequents libraries and utilizes computers as a means of committing his previous criminal convictions. She sent it to the Chula Vista campus library and all Higher Education Centers with a notice to call Campus Police if the individual was on found on premises. Four days later, San Ysidro Instructional Assistant Arick Sandoval noticed someone fitting the description in the computer resource lab at the San Ysidro Higher Education Center. He informed supervisor Heidi Newhouse who contacted Campus Police. The suspect was taken into custody.

For their vigilance and teamwork, Chief Cash is presenting Arick and Heidi with Citizens’ Commendations and Kathleen with a Commanding Officer’s Commendation. Thank you Arick, Heidi and Kathleen for helping keep us all safe.

Preparing for Another Winning Football Season

Training for a third consecutive bowl season is a year-round proposition. What better way to sharpen those skills and build strength than to train with the elite Navy SEALs? The SEAL instructors recently gave the 35 players a one-hour session on leadership and goal setting, then took them to their training beach in Coronado for a three-hour training. The student athletes were put through their exhausting paces, including training with 250-pound logs. Football Coach Ed Carberry began this partnership with the SEALs three years ago.  In that time, the Jaguars have won back-to-back bowl games. Coincidence? Here’s to another winning year.

Every Jaguar has to pull his own weight in this training exercise with the Navy SEALs.
Every Jaguar has to pull his own weight in this training exercise with the Navy SEALs.

ASO Project Showcase

The Associated Student Organization has had a busy and productive year. Last week ASO members shared information on each of their initiatives at the ASO Project Showcase. Students stopped by to learn more about the laptop rental program, recycling, Earth Day, the textbook rental project, the many clubs and other projects. Thank you to ASO President and Student Trustee Laura Jessica del Castillo for your leadership.

ASO Project Showcase

ASO Project Showcase

ASO Project Showcase

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March 28, 2014

Advancing Southwestern College's Influence

Over the last couple weeks, Southwestern College faculty, Governing Board members and leadership have had the opportunity to share with the community several of our key accomplishments and initiatives.

Just this week, journalism professor and The Sun adviser, Dr. Max Branscomb received the Sunshine Award from the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The organization recognized Dr. Branscomb’s “extraordinary effort in supporting the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, the cornerstone of our democracy.” Surrounded by his current and former students and Governing Board members Tim Nader, Humberto Peraza and myself, Dr. Branscomb accepted the award on behalf of his grandmother and father. Both instilled in him the belief that although you may not agree with somebody’s opinion, you defend their right to express it.

Dr. Branscomb surrounded by well wishers at his award ceremony

Also recognized this week were Governing Board members Norma Hernandez and Nora Vargas and English Professor Dr. Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete. Each was a finalist in the UT San Diego Latino Champions awards. Board members Hernandez and Vargas were recognized as civic leaders and Dr. Navarrete was recognized as a teacher leader.

Norma Hernandez, Nora Vargas and Sylvia Navarrete are finalists

Earlier this week I had the privilege to provide an update to the Chula Vista City Council on our progress in academic initiatives and Proposition R over the last two years. The presentation was well-received, and Mayor Cheryl Cox and all the council members were complimentary of our efforts. We all reaffirmed our commitment to work together on issues of mutual interest.

Dr. Nish at Chula Vista City Council Meeting

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March 14, 2014

Here is a special letter from Dr. Nish to UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla.


SWC Letterhead header

March 14, 2014
Dr. Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor
UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093

Dear Dr. Khosla,

Thank you so much for your outreach to, and support for, the South Bay Community. We greatly appreciated you hosting the community forum Wednesday evening in National City. Our entire community understands the message you send by personally listening to our concerns.

Ever since you were introduced to the South County at the reception held here at Southwestern College last year, you have spoken of your sincere desire to be an advocate for students throughout the region. You have been a man of your word.

The announcement of Southwestern College being one of two local colleges that will benefit from the expansion of the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars program is wonderful news for all of us. This opportunity takes away the financial barrier for our best and brightest transfer students. It is a tangible manifestation of your commitment to the diversity Southwestern College offers.

As you correctly stated last night, the elimination of the TAG program is a sensitive and emotionally charged subject. Please accept my sincerest apologies for the tone the conversation took. I appreciate and applaud the candor, diplomacy and understanding you and your staff demonstrated in addressing the concerns regarding Southwestern College transfers to UCSD.

As you stated last night, University Links is not perfect, but I would state it is a step in the right direction and I join you in committing to work together to continue to improve the program. I will continue to work with my staff and Governing Board to identify and address factors that are impacting applications to UC San Diego. In the end, our combined efforts improve each of our institutions.

Please let me also take this opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge the good work of Mae Brown. Her collaborative efforts with Southwestern College and the San Diego Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA) have helped keep us informed and allowed us to contribute to the development of the University Links program.

I look forward to many years of collaboration as we both strive to keep the doors of higher education open for all students wishing to create brighter futures for themselves and our community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Nish's signature

Melinda Nish, Ed.D.

C: Governing Board


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March 5, 2014
Meet Our Future Students

It’s never too early to have students thinking about college—and about attending Southwestern.

This week I had the pleasure of reading to the third graders in Ms. Silvia Toledo’s class at El Toyon Elementary in National City. The day—called Read Across America—is a celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and is an opportunity for community members to share their love of reading with young students. Joining me at El Toyon were National City Mayor Ron Morrison and National School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Oram.

My book selection, The Day the Crayons Quit, provided the students with some life lessons of being sensitive and inclusive that are applicable for all ages. After reading the book, the students asked me what they needed to know to prepare for college.

reading to the third graders in Ms. Silvia Toledo’s class at El Toyon Elementary in National City

teacher Silvia Toledo and her third grade class, along with others celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday

Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Angelica Suarez, joins me, teacher Silvia Toledo and her third grade class, along with others celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday.

Proposition R Gaining Steam
Construction on the Fieldhouse classroom building is more than half complete and user groups have been meeting for the new projects on the corner lot and at the Higher Education Center in National City. So now is a good time to check on our progress and provide our community with an update.

If you haven’t signed up already, you are invited to join us at one or both of our community updates—Thursday, March 13 from 2-4 p.m. at the Higher Education Center-National City and Friday, March 14 from 7-9 a.m. in Student Union East. You can RSVP online at swccd.edu/PropRoutreach The updates will include small group discussions to allow participants more time to study portions of the plans.

On the Prop R Outreach webpage, you’ll also see a new feature—podcasts. Currently there are two podcasts that allow our stakeholders to hear about key developments for Prop R—anytime, anywhere. So far there is a podcast that gives an overview of Proposition and another that describes what will be built on the corner lot.

Fieldhouse Classroom building

Standing on the third floor
Cabinet took a tour of the Fieldhouse Classroom building today. Here is the view from the third floor.

Thank You for the Visit
Adorable students from the Child Development Center surprised me Tuesday, bearing gifts and song. Thank you girls, CDC Director Patie Bartow and Rosario Knoll for brightening my day.

students from the Child Development Center

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February 20, 2014
A Week of Milestones

The district and SCEA reached a tentative agreement this week that will provide on-schedule salary increase and a permanent contribution to the districtwide employee health and welfare plan. The agreement was reached after a day-long mediation session. Both sides agreed the tentative agreement is a positive step and are committed to productive negotiations for the 2014-15 regarding issues that both parties continue to find important.

Thank you for the time and dedication of each of the members of the negotiating teams.

Frank Post Tinh Khuong
Caree Lesh Carol Stuardo
Robert Unger Lynn Solomita
Kathy Tyner Angelica Suarez
Steve Crow Christine Perri
Aaron Starck


faculty displaying signs

Congressman Vargas Congratulates The Sun

Congressman Juan Vargas visited the student journalists of The Sun this week. The congressman inspired the students with stories of people who have changed the world because of their quests for ending poverty and injustice. He encouraged the students to live a good life that is filled with meaning and not just economic gain.

He then presented the students with a copy of the Congressional Record of Feb. 6, 2014—The Sun day in Chula Vista. Congressman Vargas congratulated the student journalists of the The Sun and El Sol magazine for the quality of their award-winning publications.

Congressman with student journalists

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February 10, 2014
Spreading the Good News of Southwestern College

Southwestern College’s educational and facilities initiatives were center stage last week when I presented an update to more than 100 of Chula Vista’s most active community members.

Invited by the South Bay Family YMCA to present at the monthly First Friday Breakfast last week, I was happy to share the large strides we have made in improving student success. Our efforts to increase completion rates, increase transfers to four-year universities and the economic advantages of attending Southwestern College were welcome messages to the community.

Our data showed that more of our students are choosing to attend school full-time—36.5% last fall, compared with 28.2% in fall 2012. That is very good news for our students, for they are able to achieve their educational goals more quickly by attending school full-time.

We were also able to show the community the number of students transferring to the UC and CSU systems. We expect our transfer rates to increase even more with the Associate Degree for Transfer (SB 1440) initiative. I was able to explain the number of majors approved through SB 1440 and share that 248 Southwestern College students have already been guaranteed a spot at the CSUs for Fall, 2014.

As community members and local taxpayers, those in attendance were interested in seeing the economic impact of their investment in Southwestern College and our students. Our recent economic impact study shows that our students earn a 16.8% rate of return for their investment of time and money into education at SWC, and for every dollar a student invests, they earn an additional $5.40 in lifetime earnings. A Southwestern education promotes higher incomes—which coupled with lower social costs such as reduced incidences of absenteeism, and fewer unemployment claims—contributes to a total of $118 million per year. And taxpayers benefit from the additional income taxes that our higher-paid graduates generate in both income and property taxes. The total economic effect is over $503 million added income per year.

An additional economic engine benefiting our community is Proposition R. My presentation included an update on the projects currently under way. I invited those in attendance to attend one of two upcoming community forums—in March and May—to provide their input on programming they would like to see in the wellness center and performing arts center planned for the corner lot. Of course, we will be inviting all of you too!

In addition to the data, I was able to brag about some of our signature programs and the positive impact they have had in our community. Through our nursing, dental hygiene and police academy programs, we are preparing students for high-demand, high-wage jobs. Then there is our award-winning journalism program, which has won the highest state and national awards for excellence. All the copies of the student publications we brought were quickly snapped up.

We have all been working together to make Southwestern College a first choice for higher education for our community. Last week’s presentation reconfirmed our positive impact for the South Bay.

First Friday Breakfast

First Friday Breakfast: More than 100 community members received an update on initiatives at Southwestern College.

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Jan. 30, 2014
Valuable One-on-One Time with our Legislators
Governing Board members, our student trustee and our Academic Senate President joined me last weekend to spend some quality time talking with our local legislators and expressing our appreciation for increased funding proposals.

The one-on-one meetings were the culminating activity of the Community College League of California’s annual legislative conference. Attending the conference were Governing Board Members Norma Hernandez, Tim Nader, Humberto Peraza, Nora Vargas, student Trustee Laura Jessica del Castillo and Academic Senate President Randy Beach. We attended workshops covering everything from community college’s role in cradle to career education to using student equity plans to close the achievement gap.

However, the opportunity to give our local legislators a pulse on what’s happening at Southwestern College—especially from the student perspective—was most valuable. Arranged through the San Diego Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA), the meetings brought our state assembly members and senators to us.

Admittedly, they were happier meetings, thanks to the infusion of Proposition 30 funds and Governor Brown’s proposed budget for community colleges. Yet, each of us urged our legislators to support the Governor’s budget because it provides us funding to restore access, key orientation and assessment pieces of the Student Success Act, deferred maintenance, instructional equipment and COLA.

Assemblywomen Toni Atkins, Shirley Weber, Lorena Gonzalez and Senators Marty Block and Ben Hueso—who all represent portions of the Southwestern College district—all spoke of their admiration for community colleges as the gateway to higher education. Each spoke of the outstanding job local community colleges have done with diminished resources and agreed that additional funding was long overdue.

With the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the legislators, Senate President Beach encouraged them to consider funding for professional development for faculty and staff. Student Trustee del Castillo spoke of the importance to address the high cost of textbooks.

After a full afternoon of dialogue, we invited the legislators to visit Southwestern College. We’re looking forward to those visits in the near future.

 

Photo of Southwestern College leaders attending legislative conference

Advocacy in Action: L-R Academic Senate President Randy Beach, student Trustee Laura Jessica del Castillo, Governing Board Member Tim Nader, Governing Board Vice President Norma Hernandez and myself. Not pictured: Governing Board Members Humberto Peraza, Nora Vargas and Board President Terri Valladolid.

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 January 21, 2014

Good morning and welcome to the Spring 2014 semester.

It’s wonderful to see our part-time and full-time faculty return to campus. I hope you had a restful break with family and friends. Our students are excited to be returning as well. Our headcount stands at 18,306 this morning. That’s 1,000 more students than this time last year. Kudos to everybody who has helped in reaching out to our students. Over the next two weeks, each and every one of us can play a role in helping us boost our FTES. Leaving registration open a few extra days this weekend helped boost our FTES by 70, but we are still more than 200 FTES below our target.

We can help students feel welcome and less stressed, especially with the traffic delays on Otay Lakes Road. Lists of open classes are on display at the Chavez building and in the student services area at each of the centers. Please encourage students to take a look at them and consider adding one or two more classes. Don’t hesitate to give directions to students who may look lost. And let them know our ASO will be holding Welcome Week activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today through Thursday.

There is much more information on the state of the district in my Opening Day presentation. In case you couldn’t see the entire presentation from your seat, here is the link on my webpage: Opening Day We’ll have the video posted soon (click here for video).

I want to thank our Governing Board members who attended Friday’s Opening Day ceremony: President Terri Valladolid, Vice President Norma Hernandez, members Humberto Peraza and Nora Vargas and the entire board for their focus on student success. We have all been working thoughtfully and strategically to help our students reach their educational goals. Today offers a new opportunity to create student success.

 

Last updated: 7/29/2014 2:59:26 PM