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February 18, 2015

Lobbying for Southwestern College Students at the Federal Level

Getting more federal money in the hands of our students and requesting additional funding to support our student veterans were high on the list of our lobbying requests last week in Washington, D.C.

Trustee Humberto Peraza, Public Information and Government Relations Officer Lillian Leopold and I met with our congressional and senate delegations as part of Association of Community College Trustees conference. During the four-day visit, we learned about new federal accountability proposals for community colleges, the funding prospects in the new federal budget and the strong support many legislators have for the community college mission.

As expected, there was still much buzz about President Obama’s State of the Union address that proposed two free years of community college for all. Not surprisingly, conference attendees were excited, but realistic about the president’s proposal. We all agreed that it was a great conversation starter, but much hard work still lies ahead.

Of more immediate attention is the federal proposal to increase accountability. The national “report card” would review each college in three areas: Access, Affordability and Outcome. As it currently stands, very few California community colleges would fare well in the new report card because of the large percentage of Board of Governor (BOG) fee waivers granted to our state’s community college students, coupled with the high cost of living. The federal report card would also rely on IPEDs data, which only counts first-time, full-time college students—leaving a majority of our students not captured in the data.

In our conversations with legislators, we encouraged them to use the California Scorecard as a model for accountability. Our scorecard outlines the outcomes for students who come to us college-prepared and those who don’t.

Additionally, we asked our legislators to restore eligibility for the year-round Pell Grant, allowing our students to receive federal financial aid to take courses in the summer, and to extend the time limit for Pell Grant eligibility to 14 semesters. We asked that they pass the federal Dream Act and increase funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Finally we asked for Congress to fund the Centers for Excellence for Veteran Success when they reauthorize the new Higher Education Act. The Centers for Excellence funding would allow Southwestern College to compete for grants that would help augment our services for our student veterans.

Coupled with our legislative advocacy last month in Sacramento, this conference gave us direct access to our lawmakers and personalized for them the results of legislation with our students.

Association of Community College Trustees conference
Congressman Juan Vargas (center) meets with San Diego-area community college representatives. L-R: SWC Trustee Humberto Peraza, SDCC Trustee Bernie Rhinerson, Vargas, myself, Palomar CC Trustee Mark Evilsizer.

Association of Community College Trustees conference
San Diego-area community college representatives meet with Congressman Scott Peters. L-R: Palomar CC Trustee Mark Evilsizer, SDCC Trustee Bernie Rhinerson, Peters, SWC Trustee Humberto Peraza.



February 3, 2015

Coffee Chat this Thursday—Meet Our New Chief Information Systems Officer

Have you noticed that WiFi strength is being boosted throughout the college district? Do you have questions and concerns about our technology resources? Please join me and our new Chief Information Systems Officer Dan Borges this Thursday at my next Coffee Chat.

We’ll be in Student Union East on Thursday, Feb. 5 from 10 – 11 a.m.

Each One, Reach One

This semester’s theme of “We Cultivate” provides so many possibilities for making stronger connections with each other and with our students. If you recall from your Opening Day Agenda and Schedule of Activities, the flower pot on the cover illustrated cultivating Success, Learning, Hope and Connections, among other things.

How do we turn those words into action for all of us? VPAA Kathy Tyner and faculty leaders, including Chair of Chairs Dr. Chris Hayashi, are promoting a mentoring opportunity: Each One, Reach One.

The concept is to call five students—or even one student—and ask them how their semester is going. You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t know what to say to a student.” VPAA Tyner and her team are creating a one-page sheet with ideas of what to chat about. Some faculty may even feel more comfortable calling students they may have had last semester and telling them how much they enjoyed having them in class and asking them how they are doing this semester.

This effort is completely voluntary, but if you’re looking for a way to help our students connect with a caring adult, here’s your chance. For more information, please call VPAA Tyner’s office at 482-6338 or email her at

Handy Student Resource Guides

To continue the theme of making connections, we have posted a Student Resource Guide on the website to outline the hours of operation of the library, student union, math center, Academic Success Center and other places to study. The guide also includes where computers and photocopiers are located on campus and at the Higher Education Centers. All students received the information in an email, but for your reference as well, you can find the information at

We’ve also created a simple trifold brochure that we will be distributing to all employees. The brochure includes the most popular student services departments and a list of important dates for Spring Semester. Look for it in your mailbox later this week. You can also access the brochure online at the same webpage listed above.

Fall in Love with the Arts

Have you purchased your ticket to the School of Arts and Communication gala? Today is the last day to receive the discounted ticket price of $85.

The inaugural gala on Saturday, Feb. 28, will showcase student work and entertainment, with the goal of raising funds for student scholarships. The gala includes dinner, wine tasting, a silent auction and dancing at the Mission Valley Hilton. To purchase your ticket, please contact Dean Dr. Donna Arnold, at 482-6441.

Faculty Hiring Priority memo

We have finalized the Faculty Hiring Priority process, and I’m happy to announce that we will be hiring eight new faculty—including full-time faculty in areas that have lacked a full-time member for several years.

We will be hiring faculty in the following areas:

  1. ADN Nursing
  2. Landscape & Nursery Technology
  3. English
  4. Math
  5. Business/OIS
  6. Architecture
  7. Biology/Allied Health
  8. Accounting

In the memo I emailed to all faculty and administrators Friday, I hope to have cleared up a couple misconceptions about the process. As explained in the memo, the primary determining factor for where we draw the line is the ongoing general fund dollars available. Additionally, hiring the SSSP-funded counselors did not reduce the number of FHP positions funded.

Thank you to all the members of the FHP committee for their hard work. If you have additional questions about the FHP process, please contact Academic Senate President Patti Flores-Charter or VPAA Kathy Tyner, who both co-chair the FHP committee.


January 10, 2015

Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A group of Southwestern College students and staff celebrated the life and teachings of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday. Our contingent marched in the 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. With the theme of “Unity is Our Strength,” we marched along North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway with other college groups, police and fire departments, marching bands, drill teams and church groups.

Thank you to Chief Michael Cash and Student Development Director Brett Robertson for your successful recruitment efforts. It was wonderful day of service for all of us.

2015 MLK Parade


Welcoming Students for Spring Semester

The message of this semester’s Opening Day presentation is still fresh in my mind as we prepare for our students to return tomorrow. Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade has reminded us that many of our students have lived through—or are still experiencing—serious stress that paints a very different picture of education. Dr. Duncan-Andrade’s research is a powerful reinforcement to our efforts to create a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere for our students. If you would like to hear the podcast of Dr. Duncan-Andrade’s presentation, click here.

The resources we have allocated for additional counselors, tutoring and strengthening our learning communities give our students an opportunity to connect with a caring adult. The daily connections our students make with our faculty and classified professionals give them the confidence to continue their studies.

Our efficiency took a healthy leap over the weekend, thanks to keeping our registration open through midnight tonight. As of this morning, we were at 81.9%. I am asking that we all work this week to encourage our students to take one more class to help them fulfill their educational goals more quickly.

A new option for students this semester is Weekend College. Students can fulfill their general education requirements in two semesters by taking one class on Friday evenings and two classes on Saturday this semester and next semester. The list of courses being offered can be found at

Wells Fargo Supporting SBDC

Congratulations to our South San Diego Small Business Development Center for receiving a $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank. In a check presentation this morning, Wells Fargo San Diego Area Bank President Ernesto Arredondo presented us the check to increase services to small business owners.The grant will fund training, counseling and assisting small business owners to improve and grow their businesses.

SBDC Wells Fargo Grant

Last updated: 2/25/2015 2:15:53 PM