Southwestern College


Dec. 18, 2012

Thoughts for the Season

Our nation and Southwestern College enter this holiday season with mixed emotions. While we are grateful for the abundance of good will and friendship we have built this year, we carry with us a tremendous sense of loss. We mourn for the senseless loss of life of the 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. And we are deeply saddened for the loss of our friend and colleague, Phil Lopez.

This holiday season, more than ever, reminds us that life is precious and the work we do is meaningful.

We accomplished many great things this year. We have brought back a sense of stability that has created a renewed sense of teamwork. We have engaged in open and honest conversations that are helping us move our college forward. And together, we helped spread the message about the importance of maintaining funding for higher education. As a result, all of our representative groups are working tirelessly to find solutions to our economic challenges. I am truly grateful for this commitment.

Our community has participated with us in some wonderful events this year. We brought our Foundation Gala onto campus and reminded our community of the wonderful jewel and community asset we are. We held a meaningful Veterans’ Day ceremony that honored our student veterans and all veterans, past and president. We invited business and education leaders onto our campus to have a critical conversation about workforce and economic development, and our role in helping define that for our region. We welcomed a new Governing Board member and congratulated another Governing Board member on a successful election.

I am thankful for a successful year and the contributions of two amazing colleagues—Phil Lopez and Michael Schnorr—who are no longer with us.

In this season of giving, I hope you will join me on Thursday for an Open House. We will have coffee, holiday treats and great stories to celebrate a job well done this semester.

I wish you a time of peace and love with your family and friends. And I look forward to another great semester in January.

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Nov. 28, 2012

We’re Getting Prepared

Among the first things members of the Southwestern College community told me upon my arrival was that we had talked a lot, and even hired a consultant for emergency preparedness, but that many felt our progress had stalled. The last emergency drill was conducted years ago, several people told me.

Over the last year, much work has been done, thanks to the efforts of the college’s Public Safety Committee. Our Hazard Mitigation Plan has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and we have updated the District Emergency Operations and Campus Emergency Plans. In the next few months, we’ll be developing specific plans for each of the Higher Education Centers and the Crown Cove Aquatic Center.

Another key component of the district’s emergency preparedness plan is implementing an emergency notification system. This is a two-fold effort that includes notifying all students and staff through telephone and text message in the case of an emergency, and installing emergency phone tower “blue poles” security system with emergency broadcast capability.

I am happy to report that after months of research and interviews with five different vendors, we are ready to sign an agreement with a vendor that will give us mass notification software for emergencies and college outreach. The software will be up and running in the spring semester. It will pull contact information from Colleague. So now is a good time to ensure your home and cell phone numbers are up-to-date in the system.

The “blue pole” security system has also been moving along. A vendor has been identified and a preliminary map of where the blue light poles will be located throughout campus has been created. The installation of this system is included in the Proposition R implementation timeline.

With these initiatives comes the need for training.

And thanks to Police Chief Michael Cash, our training efforts are moving forward quickly. Already, Chief Cash—who is a certified trainer—is holding trainings for the teams that will be responsible for managing and responding to emergencies throughout the district.

Beginning next month, all employees will have an opportunity to participate in trainings that will help them preserve their personal safety as well as the safety of fellow employees and students. The trainings will be offered twice monthly from December through May. The chief is also available to hold departmental trainings throughout the spring semester.

As we move forward in strengthening our emergency preparedness, we can all play a role.


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Nov. 13, 2012

Avoiding the Fiscal Tsunami

California voters—thanks to a surge of 18 to 29-year-old voters—approved Proposition 30 last week. While the passage helps California Community Colleges avoid a fiscal tsunami, it doesn’t stop a financial storm.

The state legislature still has not fixed structural issues, including funding deferrals. For months on end, the state continues to defer funding that is due to us, forcing us to borrow money from the county treasury to meet payroll.

While the state may continue kicking the can down the road, I am proud of the efforts by all our constituencies to put the Southwestern College financial house in order. We have the one-year solutions of a 5% pay reduction and drawing down on district reserves.

We have also looked at long-term structural processes that will help us move forward in good times and in bad. We have a strong grip on Part Time Overload funds this semester to ensure we are keeping costs in check. Our budget managers are closely scrutinizing purchases. And we have significantly increased our efficiency rate. Last fall it was 80%; this fall we’ve hit our target of 93%.

Where do go from here, though? Academic Senate President Randy Beach and I debriefed the effects of Prop. 30’s passage at the beginning of the Shared Consultation Council meeting last week, with input from our vice presidents and Bob Temple. We reviewed the Budget Scenario document from the Budget Committee. (You can review the scenario document on SharePoint, under the Budget Committee’s Document Library.)

First and foremost, we will not have to cut additional classes from the spring schedule. Learning lessons from student enrollment patterns in last spring’s schedule and our efficiency rate efforts, we were already building this year’s spring schedule with fewer classes. We also took into consideration the 5.6% reduction in FTES as part of our decreased funding from last year.

Additional good news is that we will have a summer school schedule this year. The scope of summer school will depend on how we do in the spring, however.

While those are great steps forward, difficult work still lies ahead. The budget scenario shows we face a $6.8 million shortfall for 2013-2014, because our one-year fixes expire. Our budget managers have done an excellent job in identifying $1 million in ongoing reductions in their areas, bringing our deficit to $5.8 million for the upcoming year.

Our constituency leaders have already begun meeting, and they are truly committed to finding a solution. We have all committed to following the principals of Interest Based Bargaining, which will allow us to bring forward many different possibilities.

A small committee of Academic Senate members has also spent this semester creating 10 criteria that will help faculty prioritize the curriculum. As Randy explained at last week’s meeting, the criteria is focused on the needs of students to complete something—whether it’s a degree or certificate. It’s not a matter of saying one program is more important than another, Randy said. It’s a matter of doing what’s best for students.

The Academic Senate’s work in this area is crucial. The Chancellor’s office has already narrowed our mission as a Community College system. With our constrained budgets, all community colleges must focus on classes that lead to: 1) transfer, 2) Career Technical Education and 3) basic skills.

We have many bright minds working on solutions. I have seen the spirit of camaraderie and collegiality when everybody comes together in the best interest of our students and college community. Please continue bringing your suggestions to your constituency leaders. I have faith and trust that we will, once again, address our own financial storm.

Golden Jaguar reunion

We’re inviting our Golden Jaguars back onto campus on Dec. 6 to ask them to participate in the Southwestern College Cares initiative. We’re hoping they will be willing to donate their time, talent and treasure to specific, short-term volunteer projects. An email invitation was sent last week, and a hard-copy invitation is being mailed this week.

If you know of any retired Southwestern College employees, please feel free to share the information with them. Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 a.m. – noon in Student Union East.


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Nov. 6, 2012

Regional Focus on Career Technical Education

More than 150 people from throughout San Diego County attended our Getting Technical summit last week. Representatives from community colleges throughout the region, as well as elected officials and local industry joined the conversation on what we can do to better link our academic programs with workforce needs.

Van Ton-Quinlivan

California Community College’s Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan provided a state perspective on efforts to strengthen regional workforce and economic development networks and their efforts to create shared goals and develop an integrated data collection system to measure those goals.

The statewide goal is to have each region decide on program capacity as a whole. Additionally, each region will identify three primary sectors/clusters and the top two emerging sectors/clusters.

Our region has identified the following:

Image to the right: Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for workforce and economic development for the California Community College Chancellor's Office
Top Three =
  • Life sciences/Bio-tech/Healthcare
  • Infrastructure: Energy/Transportation/Utilities
  • Manufacturing/Engineering
Emerging =   Clean Tech (green) & Cyber Security.

Additionally, "braided" funding from state and federal sources could then be targeted to the regional consortia across the state.  In sum, the vision from the system-level is that our CTE efforts will be regional, will be targeted to specific sectors, and will leverage funds rather than disperse.  This is a significant change in focus for us in California community colleges. 

Ton-Quinlivan’s remarks served as a foundation for deeper discussion in breakout sessions for two of our local area’s fastest-growing industries—health sciences and maritime technologies. The conversations were meaningful and informative.

John Pasha

While many may believe the needs in health sciences are for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and X-ray technicians, our panel talked about the pressing need for non-traditional caregiver pipelines. As the health care philosophy moves more from "sick care" to "well care," there will be a growing need for health and wellness coaches, nutrition educators and health careers that address obesity and chronic diseases, panelists said.

Those attending the maritime technologies session were schooled on the wide variety of workforce opportunities.

From the military, to tourism, to shipbuilding and ship repair, 95 percent of the jobs in these fields are located south of the Coronado Bridge, our panelists said.

Image to the right: John Pasha, senior vice president at Pasha Automotive, makes a point about the value trained local technicians add to imported vehicles at the Port of San Diego.

The maritime industry is hungry to help build a pipeline for trained professionals. Our panelists said they had the materials, resources and funds to sustain such an effort. What they needed were people to develop curriculum and train employees.

Professionals from both industries spoke about the technical needs for their workforce, but they also emphasized the need for soft skills—customer service, good communication skills, ability to multi-task and basic business skills.

So where do we go from here?

On Friday, VPAA Kathy Tyner and VPSA Angelica Suarez met with all the deans and shared the findings of the morning. If we are to prepare our students for these high-growth, high-wage jobs, how do we infuse communications, business and multi-tasking skills across our curriculum? How do we help our students master the use of data to analyze situations and create solutions? In other words, how do we blend career technical skills into the academic program?

The deans were excited when they left their meeting Friday. Over the next several weeks, the deans will be asking faculty for their ideas so that we can continue to move the conversation into action.

One of our speakers on the health sciences panel summed up our needs quite succinctly. He said that there are many industry "pipelines," but many of them are not connected. Southwestern College has an opportunity to lead an effort for workforce collaboration across the county.

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October 30, 2012

Student Voices More Important Than Ever

As we head into the home stretch for the November election, the fate of Proposition 30 may depend on strong voter turnout for the age group of 18-29. Pollsters show this group supporting the measure by a 62.5% margin. This is the group that is potentially most impacted by budget cuts to education. Please read more about the poll here.

I appreciate all the efforts students and faculty have made to register members of our Southwestern College community to vote. As we near Election Day, I encourage everyone to make an informed vote.

Southwestern’s Economic Impact  

Southwestern College—through its students, faculty, staff and college operations—is an economic stimulus for the San Diego County region. In a time of diminishing economic resources, college operations alone generate $74.8 million in the region. Totaling all benefits to students, society, and taxpayers, the average added income due to Southwestern College is more than $500 MILLION per year. 

This is one of the findings from the economic impact report Southwestern College commissioned earlier this year. The report quantified rates of return from the student perspective, social perspective and taxpayer perspective.

While community colleges in general, and Southwestern College in particular, offer students a quality education at a reasonable price, the report showed that for every $1 a student invests in his or her education at Southwestern College, their lifetime income increases $5.40. That translates to an average rate of return of 16.3% for students with all costs (fees, books, and foregone wages) recovered in 9.3 years. That’s a greater return than the average 7% on stocks and bonds.

The higher earnings of Southwestern College graduates also mean they are less likely to be a drain on society, creating $6.1 million savings annually associated with improved health, reduced crime and reduced welfare and employment.

Southwestern College is also a sound investment for taxpayers. State and local governments allocated approximately $86.6 million in support to Southwestern in fiscal year 2010-11, according to the report. For every dollar of this support, taxpayers are realizing a cumulative return of $2.20 over the course of students’ careers through higher tax receipts and avoided costs. That’s a 7.5% return—again, better than investing in stocks and bonds.

See the full report here.

In this photo (from left): Victor Castillo - CITD Director; David Mayagoitia - President, DEITAC; Melinda Nish - Superintendent/President, Southwestern Community College District; Jose Antonio Gonzalez - President, COMCE Baja California Norte; Norma Hernandez - President, Southwestern Community College District Governing Board; Flavio Olivieri - Executive Director, DEITAC

Our economic reach will now be felt internationally. Earlier this month, Southwestern College formalized an agreement with the Mexican Council for Foreign Trade of Baja California (COMCE). Through our Center for International Trade Development (CITD), entrepreneurs in Tijuana will now be able to participate in CITD’s seminars and services to build businesses that succeed on both sides of the border.

Our strategic alliance was unveiled at Tijuana Innovadora—the 11-day conference and expo that highlighted innovations in education, industry, creativity and the humanities in Baja California.

We often feel the effects of gloom and doom. Our economic impact shows that we continue to be a beacon for those in the community seeking higher education.

More Economic Opportunities

More than 150 people have already registered for theGetting Technical: Critical Conversations about Today’s and Tomorrow’s Workforcebeing held on campus on Nov. 1 from 7:30 – 10:45 a.m. in the Student Union East.

If you know of any of your industry partners who would be interested, please have them sign up today by going and clicking on “Reserve your seat now” at the top of the page.


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October 9, 2012

Getting Technical Summit

Getting Technical logo

It’s less than a month away from the Workforce and Economic Development Summit we’re hosting on campus. Getting Technical: Critical Conversations about Today’s and Tomorrow’s Workforce will be held on Nov. 1 from 7:30 – 10:45 a.m. in the Student Union East.

Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for workforce and economic development for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, will serve as the keynote speaker. She will present information on state and federal resources available to merge college curriculum with industry needs. Ton-Quinlivan will pull data from her Doing What Matters website that will allow those attending to access labor market information, help community colleges retool programs to meet workforce needs and improve students’ skills.

The Vice Chancellor’s keynote will be followed by two breakout sessions to allow industry leaders in two of South County’s expanding industries—Health Science and Maritime Technology—to further expand on their workforce needs.

Hoping for the Best, Planning for the Worst   

The key issue for Southwestern College on this November’s ballot is Proposition 30.

Our apportionment revenue will be decreased by approximately $4.8 million dollars, this year and permanently, if Prop 30 does not pass.  The most recent polls show 53.5% of likely voters are in favor of Proposition 30, 37.2% are opposed and 9% are undecided.

While a simple majority determines the outcome of this proposition, the margin of error for most polls is at least 5% and we expect voters are just now forming opinions. This means that now is the time to make sure we are informed about what is on the ballot, what is at stake, and that we have communicated this to our community.

To help understand both sides of the issue, Political Science Professor Phil Saenz is moderating a forum on Prop. 30 on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to noon on the cafeteria patio “Free Speech” area. Here is the lineup for the forum:

  • Speaking in favor of the proposition will be Bill Freeman, President of the San Diego Education Association;
  • Speaking in opposition of Prop. 30 will be Adam Summers, senior policy analyst for Reason Foundation;
  • Posing questions to the two panelists: Michael Smolens, political editor for UT-San Diego and KPBS education reporter Kyla Calvert.

It is sure to be an informative discussion, and will provide all of us with more information to share with our friends and neighbors.

Southwestern College leadership is hoping for the best but planning for the worst. The Vice Presidents have been asked to work with their direct reports on submitting new discretionary budgets that realize a $1 million reduction from the current adopted budget.     

The Budget Committee has drafted a simple table that compares the budget effects of the two scenarios facing us—“pass” or “no pass” of Prop. 30. This table is available on the committee’s SharePoint site.

Additionally, the Budget Committee has drafted a revenue enhancement plan.  The two primary areas emphasized for revenue enhancement are facilities rentals and non-resident fees.  Many other ideas have been brought forward and we are working on these supplemental ideas as well as cost savings plans. 

It is our sincere effort to bring you the latest information as it is being formulated so that you can share your thoughts and ideas along the way.

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October 2, 2012

College CEOs Honor Student Veterans

The CEOs for the six district members of the San Diego Imperial County Community College Association began their Proposition 30 information campaign in earnest this week. Sitting aboard the flight deck of the USS Midway with retired Navy aircraft in the background, the CEOs spoke about the vital services all community colleges provide to returning veterans and their dependents.

Below are highlights from the speech I presented to the 30 people in attendance and the television crews from across San Diego County covering the event.

It is a great honor to be with you today aboard the USS Midway, and it is a further honor to be able to speak to you today about veteran students.

At Southwestern College we have served more than 11,000 active-duty students, veteran students and their dependents since 2006, at our Chula Vista Campus, our Higher Education Centers in Otay Mesa, San Ysidro, National City and our Crown Cove Aquatic Center on Coronado. 

This semester we have nearly 1,700 veterans and their dependents enrolled at our campuses.

I know personally about the transition from active duty to civilian life as two of my brothers are vets.  One served in the US Marine Corps, the other in the Army National Guard.  Both served foreign tours of duty, one in Afghanistan, one in Iraq.  Both of my brothers have transitioned to civilian life, in their own respective ways, but both depended on a network to help in this transition — a network which included other veterans.

So I understand the importance our student veterans play in helping each other transition into civilian life.

At Southwestern we have an active Student Veteran Organization, our SVO.  The SVO is an instant network of students who know instinctively how to reach out and help one another as only those who have shared a common experience can do. 

We have a full-time Veterans’ Services Department in our One-Stop Center Student Services building. This is an active area, providing our veteran students with answers to any and all of their benefits questions, as well as general enrollment information and specific program information. 

We also provide counseling services for our veteran students and are working to provide an expanded veterans' center, which includes dedicated counseling. This is important as all students need support both in and out of the classroom to succeed. Our counseling services are one of the most important keys to our veterans’ educational success.

Indeed, our goal at Southwestern, and at every community college, is to help our veterans reach their goal—whether that is transferring to a four-year university or completing one of our many career/technical certificates. 

One of the most popular degrees at SWC that our veterans pursue is Administration of Justice.

The most popular certificate programs are fire science and EMT/Paramedic.

The California Community College system shows its support of veterans by giving priority registration to ALL veterans and their dependents. This is just one way we demonstrate our gratitude for our men and women in uniform.

However, all California community colleges are struggling to provide enough class sections and supplemental services, due to budgetary challenges. We know that over 485,000 students have been turned away from California community colleges in the past three years due to our cuts in course offerings.  Many of those students may have been veterans.  It is our duty to work with the resources we have available to try to provide quality educational services to as many students as possible.

Despite shrinking resources, all of us here today are committed to finding ways to keep the doors of access open to our veterans and all Californians wishing to attend college.

In closing, I would like to thank all our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and their families.  We thank you for your service, your commitment, and your sacrifice.  Thank you for defending and protecting us.  Thank you.

After the prepared speeches, members of the audience were allowed to ask questions. Thanks to a question from Southwestern College student veteran Vincent Avila-Walker, I was able to address the potential impact of Proposition 30 at our college.

We’ll be compiling the video footage and posting it online as another resource for all of us to provide information on Proposition 30:

Gala Is Nearly Sold Out

The Southwestern College Education Foundation Gift of Scholarship Gala is nearly sold out. If you are thinking about attending, now is the time to get your ticket. Proceeds from this year’s gala will help the MESA program, which lost its state funding this year. While we are no longer receiving state funding, we remain committed to providing these experiences for our students. Every dollar helps.

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September 24, 2012

California Community Colleges at a Crossroad

The Los Angeles Times published two stories this weekend that illustrate the new realities California community colleges are facing.

In the first, "California's community colleges staggering during hard times," the reporter describes the struggle for students to get into the classes they need to fulfill their educational goals. While the examples cited are for other community colleges in the state, we know Southwestern College students were also shut out of some of the more popular classes.

The story does an excellent job in explaining the sources of funding for community college, the role of community colleges in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education and the ongoing pressures to be all things to all students.

Coupled with the second story, "Secretary of Labor recommends shift in approach at community colleges," which calls for community colleges to promote skills development and employment opportunities among students, there is a need for reflection.

Six weeks from now—through Proposition 30—voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the role community colleges have in providing higher education opportunities. As outlined in the LA Times article, ongoing budget reductions have had a measurable impact on students’ abilities to attend college. In the last several years, 450,000 students have been turned away from California community colleges. That is more than the combined enrollments of the University of California and the California State University systems.

The outcome of Proposition 30 will have a definite impact on our college. If you haven’t seen the webpage on our website, I encourage you to become familiar with the information so that you can be a resource to your family and friends as they research the issues. In addition to the webpage, this week we will also complete a one-page handout that specifically outlines Prop. 30’s potential impact at Southwestern College. It will also be linked to our information webpage.

Job Preparedness

The second LA Times article quotes U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in her efforts to increase collaboration between community colleges and industry. That coordination has also been a cornerstone of Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan’s efforts.

We have invited the Vice Chancellor to be the keynote speaker of our “Getting Technical: Critical Conversations about Today’s and Tomorrow’s Workforce” summit on Nov. 1. Hosted here at Southwestern College, the summit will bring together leaders of three industry sectors with growing needs in South County: health care, manufacturing and maritime. The morning promises to be an opportunity for Southwestern to better align our programs with industry needs.

Stay tuned for more details of the summit as they are developed.

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September 17, 2012

Greetings to the Southwestern Faculty, Staff, and Management Team

Budget Update
Last week the Governing Board passed the 2012-13 budget, which included $79.26 million in expenditures and $77 million in revenue. To address this deficit, the Governing Board reduced district reserves from 7% to 5%. Additional savings were realized through reducing supply budgets and a 5% pay reduction for all employees. Additionally, with our lower FTES target, the college has reduced sections and, correspondingly, the overload and part-time faculty expenditures.

As I mentioned in my Aug. 27 column—and as our adopted budget reflects—our expenses exceed our revenues, and we must correct that imbalance.

The college’s budget committee has reviewed all financial materials as they have become available. Committee members have asked questions that help build their understanding of the economic situation before us. They also have done an outstanding job of representing the concerns they have heard from each of their constituent groups. As part of their work, the budget committee is preparing to release a cost reduction and revenue generation report.

The next few months will be critical in keeping the lines of communication open among all of us as we engage in finding solutions to operate within our budget.

While we have a one-year solution and we have adopted this year’s budget, we must prepare two scenarios to address the results of Proposition 30 after the November election. It will be more critical than ever that everyone stays informed and participates in the conversation that will help us weather this financial storm.

Strategic Plan Coming to Your Office

Over the next week, all employees will be receiving a copy of Strategic Plan 2012-2015. The brochure reflects the importance this college has placed on the collaborative planning process to guide the future of Southwestern College.

Upon fully opening the brochure, you will see the priorities of fulfilling our mission and strengthening our institution in two distinct areas. I ask that you display the opened document in a prominent place in your classroom or office to serve as a daily reminder of the hard work we all do to serve students and the community.

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September 10, 2012

Greetings to the Southwestern Faculty, Staff, and Management Team,

Back to School—By the Numbers
We have 20,286 students enrolled for the fall—a 2% increase over last year. Our FTES estimate is 7,369. We’re one of the few community colleges in the county that is experiencing enrollment increases. Mesa, Grossmont, Cuyamaca, Palomar and San Diego City colleges are all reporting declines in enrollment.

Thanks to our department chairs, deans and VPAA Kathy Tyner, our efficiency rate is also on the rise. We targeted a 93% seat fill rate, as of Monday September 10, we’re at 93.6%.  We will keep you updated with the actual census enrollment and seat fill numbers as the semester progresses.

All these indicators continue to demonstrate the value the South County places in the education we provide for our students. It also demonstrates the demands on our time and talent in this tough economy.

As discussed in previous columns, it will be important to help educate our community about Proposition 30—Governor Jerry Brown’s ballot measure to temporarily increase the sales tax by a quarter of a percent (0.25%) and increase taxes for those Californians who earn more than $250,000. Prop. 30 is expected to generate $6 billion in new funds to support public education, including community colleges, and public safety services.

Our Governing Board will be discussing a resolution in support of Proposition 30 at their meeting this Wednesday, September 12, 2012.

Commemorating 9-11
The Associated Student Organization will hold a commemorative ceremony Tuesday morning to mark the 11th anniversary of 9-11.

The hour-long ceremony will include student speeches, a moment of silence and a ringing of the bell in honor of those who perished that day.

The ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. to noon in the Amphitheater at the Student Center.

Vice Presidents/Police Chief Welcome Reception
Please join us at the reception to formally welcome Steve Crow, Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs; Dr. Albert Román, Vice President of Human Resources; Kathy Tyner, Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Michael Cash, Chief of Police.

The reception will be held Thursday from 11 a.m. to noon on the patio at Mayan Hall. Please stop by and cool off with some ice cream.

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August 27, 2012

Greetings to the Southwestern Faculty, Staff, and Management Team,

This message is intended to provide you with a summary of our current budget development and issues associated with the budget outlook for 2012-13.

We are in the last stages of our 2012-13 budget development and will be presenting to the Governing Board a final budget for their vote to adopt on September 12, 2012.

A special meeting of the budget committee was held Friday, August 17, where many questions were addressed.  I encourage you to work closely with your constituency representatives who can answer questions you may have about the development of the new adopted budget.  The members of the committee are listed below for your convenience.

As you are aware, 2012 has been a year of continually changing budget forecasts.  We have experienced trigger cuts at mid-year and projections of significant Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding reductions. We are now preparing for the outcome of Prop 30 which will also significantly impact our funding in 2012-13.  

The following is a recap of key assumptions used to develop the 2012-13 budget. On March 28, 2012 at the special Governing Board workshop we presented budget scenarios based on our best information at that time. These previous assumptions are no longer valid.  The table below compares where we were in the spring to where we are now.

Previous Assumptions

Current Reality

Projected a possible ending balance of $8.5 million.

Current projection is $7.3 million.

Projected $1.7 million reduction due to RDA funds.

Anticipating backfill, worst case scenario is a $475,000 repayment.

Projected the need for a $1 million one-time draw from the ending balance to cover our projected deficit.

Projected deficit is now more than $2.2 million, which means we will need to draw more money from the ending balance.

CCLC Scenario if Prop 30 failed was a projected revenue reduction of $3.6 million.

The current projection is a revenue reduction of $4.8 million.

In preparation for the possible failure of Prop 30, we had planned to budget $1.8 million in order to cover half of the revenue reduction of $3.6 million.

We only have a $1.1 million projected ending balance (beyond a 5% GB reserve) to mitigate the projected $4.8 million revenue shortfall for 2012-2013. 
Therefore, we would need to address a net decrease in revenue totaling $3.7 million during the current year.


What has NOT changed?  First and foremost, our negotiated Big Table solution stands.  All employees have agreed to a 5% decrease in salary this year.  Additionally, we agreed and have reduced the instructional Part Time Overload (PTOL) by $1 million and supply accounts by 5%. The agreement to reduce PTOL by only $1 million does provide more course sections and therefore more part-time instructional employment then we would have been able to assure had we not agreed to the 5% solution.  

As part of our Big Table agreement, and shown above, we had projected a one-time draw down on the ending fund balance of $1 million to cover our projected deficit for 2012-13.  However, the projected deficit now exceeds $2.2 million.  We will use ending funds to cover this deficit but it must be emphasized that we are operating with a structural deficit which is not sustainable and must be corrected. Simply put, our expenses exceed our revenues.  We must correct this imbalance and we must do so now.  

As we begin the negotiation process, we must develop realistic and viable solutions that address: 1) correction of the structural deficit to align our expenses with our revenue; and, 2) development of specific scenarios -- worst case scenario (failure of Prop 30) and best case (passage of Prop 30).  It is important to note that even with the passage of Prop 30, we must address the structural deficit this year.

In our continuing improvement efforts to increase transparency and understanding of our budget, we have two important resources for you.  First, on our public website, we have created “Budget Central”:, under the Faculty & Staff tab.  This site allows anyone quick access to all public budget-related documents.  Second, please refer to the Budget Committee portal site on SharePoint as another resource to budget documents, including the committee’s agendas, minutes, and supporting documentation.

As Southwestern College employees, we take great pride in our ability to work together during challenging times to serve our students.  We must keep our focus on student success as we now come together to resolve our budget issues.  We are a strong and resilient organization with the resolve necessary to overcome obstacles together.  We must use this challenge to find the opportunities that will make our college even stronger so that student achievement remains our number one goal. 

I trust that we can work together to seize the opportunities that will come from collaboration and creativity as a true Southwestern community.  

Melinda A. Nish, EdD
Southwestern Community College District

Budget Committee



  • Eric Maag
  • Vacant
2 Academic Senate
  • Randy Beach
  • Vacant
  • Linda Hernandez
  • Bruce MacNintch

2 Administrators Association

  • Terry Davis
  • Aaron Starck
2 Vice Presidents (rotating)
  • Kathy Tyner, VPAA
  • Angelica Suarez, VPSA

1 ASO Student:

  • Melody Sycks
  • Bazz Khurshid
1 Confidential
  • Kim Rader
Non-Voting Members
  • Melinda Nish, S/P
  • Albert Roman, VPHR
  • Steve Crow, VPBFA
  • Wayne Yanda, Director of Finance
  • Rizza Dela Cuadra, Accountant
  • Olimpia Reyes, Accountant

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Fall Semester Update

August 20, 2012

Greetings Southwestern Colleagues:

Welcome Back!

Crown Cove Aquatic Center began its fall semester with the American Indian Youth Summer Camp.

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.

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.

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.

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July 12, 2012

Greetings Southwestern Colleagues:

Budget Update

We have a better picture of what’s in store for community college funding now that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature have finalized the new state budget. One highly anticipated new development is state funding for growth and restoration of classes. For Southwestern, that translates to approximately $500,000 in additional revenue.

Of course, this new funding and much of the state budget are built on the assumption that the governor’s tax initiative passes in November. Without the passage, Southwestern faces a $4.8 million cut that we would need to implement in the middle of the academic year.

Follow the updates in this column as state projections continue to be a moving target. This column will also be a source of information on the upcoming tax initiative.

Proposition R Developments

A key component for moving forward with Proposition R New Look 2025 was finalized this month. The Governing Board approved the consulting firm that will develop a new and inclusive educational and facilities master plan. The educational master plan will be the foundation of the facilities master plan. By far, the process for creating, evaluating and distributing this Request for Proposal (RFP) was more extensive than the previous process followed in 2007.

A selection committee consisting of Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Steve Crow, Office of Institutional Effectiveness Dean Linda Gilstrap, Purchasing Director Priya Jerome and Academic Senate representatives Rebecca Wolniewicz and Diana Kelly, unanimously selected Cambridge West Partnership (CWP). The company obtained the highest score in the educational master plan presentation and tied for the highest presentation score for the facilities master plan. CWP’s experience in linking master planning to accreditation as well as being recognized for superior collaboration with all stakeholders made them the top choice.

Cambridge West Partnership’s staff consists of Founding Partner Ken Cereghino, Senior Partner Joyce Black, Associate Fred Trapp, Support Staff Ardith Richey, and Managing Director C.M. Brahmbhatt. As most of you are aware, C.M. serviced as our Interim VPBFA from November 23, 2011 until May 4, 2012.

The RFP was thoughtfully developed and reviewed by no fewer than eight people, including faculty. The leads on this project were VPAA Kathy Tyner and Director of Purchasing Priya Jerome. No potential contractor was involved in the preparation the RFP, which is in accordance with Recommendation No. 4 and Actions 8 and 9 of the Focused Special Review approved by the Governing Board on March 14, 2012. The RFP was mailed to 31 firms, with seven firms attending the pre-proposal meeting. Four firms submitted proposals and those proposals were reviewed by a six-member committee, including two faculty members. Four of the firms met the RFP’s full criteria and three were invited to make presentations.

A review of the publicly posted documents may be found on the Governing Board agenda for July 11, 2012. The cost of the educational master plan will be $125,000. The facilities master plan will cost $300,000 and be paid from Proposition R funds.

We are giving CWP an aggressive timeline to complete its work so that we can stay as close as possible to the deadlines we outlined in the Prop R New Look 2025 report. As a result, CWP will begin collecting preliminary demographic data throughout July and the first part of August so that it has a foundation to prepare outreach efforts to all college stakeholders when students and staff return.

This is an exciting time in the promotion of our educational mission. This process for updating our educational and facilities master plan was unanimously approved by our Shared Consultation Council, our Academic Senate and our budget committee as part of New Look 2025. I am eager to watch this process unfold and encourage all of you to participate in the upcoming forums to ensure your vision for Southwestern College is reflected in the final documents.

New CBOC Members

We welcome two new members to our Proposition R Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee this month. Israel Garza will serve as the at-large community member and Adela Garcia will serve as the business representative. A student representative will be brought forward to the Governing Board for approval in August.

Garza is a Certified Public Accountant currently employed as the Controller for Associated Students of San Diego State University. He serves on the board of several local organizations, including the South Bay Family YMCA and the County of San Diego Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board.

Garcia may be a familiar name to many, having served on the Proposition AA Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee and as a member of the Southwestern College Foundation. She is a subcontractor for IBM Corp.

Both have extensive knowledge in working with budgets and both have a passion for serving the college. We look forward to their service. They will be seated at the September 19, 2012 CBOC meeting.

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June 20, 2012

State Budget Update

Greetings Southwestern Colleagues:

On Friday, the state Legislature forwarded a budget to Governor Brown, meeting their Proposition 25 mandate that allows lawmakers to continue being paid. The budget does not include Brown’s request for an additional $250 million in savings and program cuts, so it is unclear today on whether Brown will veto the budget or request that additional bills be passed.

The proposed budget is a mixed bag for community colleges, and much of the budget is based upon voters approving the governor’s tax initiative in November.

The budget does not address the estimated student fee revenue shortfall of $100 million for community colleges. On the bright side, however, Southwestern College joined other community colleges across the state in asking for specific action on redevelopment revenues. We were successful in our efforts. As you know, the governor approved the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies throughout California, with funding from the agencies to be distributed to education. Because this was a new process, and because we knew there would be a delay in distributing the funds to education, community colleges would have been required to bridge the funding gap until the funds were released. That meant a hit of more than $1.58 million for the 2011-12 year and more than $4.845 million for the 2012-13 year. This new budget proposal includes a “hold harmless” for colleges so that we will not be required to backfill that funding delay.

In my last update to you, I provided a couple of scenarios of what passage of the Governor’s November tax initiative meant for Southwestern. State budget analysts have been able to provide a firmer picture of the shifts in budget negotiations. One large change is the amount of funding the initiative would direct toward a deferral buydown. The state has been holding on to current year funding to be paid in the next fiscal year, which means the funding is “deferred.”  The tax initiative would provide more funding in the 2012-13 academic year, rather than waiting until the following July, therefore less funding would be deferred.  However, the amount to be used toward deferrals is now estimated to be $29 million LESS than expected statewide.

As a result, for Southwestern non-passage now means a $4.8 million reduction to our budget. That’s up from the original projection of a $4.26 million cut to the budget. That increases the workload reduction to 7.3% (up from 6.2%), or 1,057 fewer FTES. We have currently planned for a 5.6% workload reduction, with the majority of the decrease planned for Spring 2013.

There is still time for you to get additional information. The Governing Board meets on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in L238 N&S.

The Budget Committee met this morning to continue its work in addressing two primary goals: decreasing costs and increasing revenues.

If you have ideas for cost savings in office efficiency or increasing revenue, please communicate these to your constituency leaders.

While the budget picture is becoming clearer, it is still a difficult one to implement. Please continue to look for these updates throughout the summer. As always, I encourage you to continue providing your ideas and feedback.

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June 5, 2012

Summer Update

Greetings Southwestern Colleagues:

This is the first of a series of budget updates that you will be receiving over the summer.

The State budget and its ever-changing effects on our local budget are keeping us extremely busy.

  • A budget workshop was presented to the Governing Board on May 23, 2012.
  • A tentative balanced budget will be presented at the June 20, 2012 Governing Board meeting.
  • Members of the Budget Committee continue to meet over the summer to hear the latest updates from state and local budget analysts as well as assist in forming plans of action for the district.
  1. Points of Clarification

    The 5% salary reduction, which was negotiated last month, is not a permanent solution to our permanent loss of $5.6 million in revenue. It is a solution that has ongoing components and one-time components.

    • The 2012-13 budget will reflect a $500,000 reduction in supplies accounts and a $1 million reduction in the part-time overload budget. These components seek to address an ongoing deficit and are consistent with our workload reduction; therefore, these cuts are ongoing until the college receives new funding. These ongoing deficit solutions were clearly articulated at the Big Table.
    • $1 million of the 2011-12 reserve will be used, in addition to the 5% salary reduction, as a one-time reduction to address the remaining balance of the revenue shortfall.
    • The $5.6 million overall deficit that these solutions address is ongoing. Therefore, the negotiated solution will not address the ongoing problem for more than one year. We must immediately begin new negotiations in the fall to address the ongoing deficit.
  2. New Developments

    The $5.6 million deficit that we are seeking to remedy will most likely increase over the 2012-13 year.

    • Funding that was to come to education from the disbandment of redevelopment agencies (RDAs) is not expected to be paid to community colleges in the near future. All California Community Colleges have been advised to plan on not receiving any RDA funds throughout this and next year. This translates to a $1.589 million hit to SWC for the 2011-12 year and an estimated $4.845 million hit for the 2012-13 year. These reductions are not accompanied by any workload reduction, meaning we must maintain the same amount of FTES for full apportionment funding, but do so with $6.4 million less.
    • The Governor’s proposed tax initiative will allow the state to pay us more of our funding on time, rather than deferring funding into the new fiscal year. Currently the state owes the college $21 million for this year that it won’t pay us until after July—the new fiscal year. Passage of the tax initiative helps get us the money we need to continue operations without having to borrow money. However, it is important to note that passage of the initiative does not mean any new funding for colleges. Non-passage means an additional $4.26 million cut to the college. This cut would come with a workload reduction of 6.2%--or nearly 900 FTES less than our current target of approximately 14,000, assuming no workload reduction. We have currently planned for a 5.6% workload reduction, with the majority of the decrease planned for Spring 2013.
  3. Budget Committee Goals

    The Budget Committee is pursuing two primary goals: decreasing cost and increasing revenues.

    • The first goal is to finalize a cost-savings program. Some of the cost-saving strategies will be implemented immediately (we already have many buildings off line this summer on the Chula Vista campus to save on energy and maintenance costs). The full plan will be completed and distributed to all District employees with a comprehensive roll out this fall. An “office efficiency” plan is in the works as part of this cost-savings strategy. If you have cost-savings ideas, please communicate these to your constituency leaders.
    • The second goal is to propose revenue-generating strategies. There are two primary areas under consideration: developing a plan to increase non-resident students, and creating a revenue generating plan using facility rentals.

Solidifying a budget with so many variables is a challenge. I commit to providing you updated information as it becomes available. Also continue to look on the college website for budget presentations. Finally, be involved. You are all invited to come and participate at the Governing Board meeting on June 20, 2012, where the tentative budget will be presented for board discussion and approval.

It is said that difficult times bring out the best in people. This is true if we can continue to work together and keep our students as the focus of what we do. This District is so strongly dedicated to our students that I have great hope we can bond together and face the hard decisions that lie ahead of us in a true spirit of cooperation.

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June 4, 2012

Prop R in Action

A crew for A.O Reed Mechanical Contractors Inc. works on a storm drain for the Field House and Central Plan project near DeVore Stadium and Lot J.

Construction crews are tearing up parts of the campus this summer as part of a $90 million Proposition R investment. The most visible changes are the widening of the Gotham and Elmhurst entrances to the college. Still to come during Phase One, however, is a new field house at DeVore Stadium, two synthetic turf fields, a two-story facility at the National City Center and updated “Blue Light” campus security. There are technology upgrades to be funded by Proposition, including modernizing the computer network and wireless system as well as modernizing the district data center.

These construction projects are moving forward while the college updates the educational and facilities master plans. We are scheduled to hire a consultant this summer that will incorporate our educational priorities and align all current and future facilities to reflect those priorities, including the best use of the corner lot.

Tune in to the district website for Proposition R updates.

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June 4, 2012

Leadership Team Complete

This summer we welcome three permanent vice presidents—Vice President for Human Resources Dr. Albert Román, Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Tyner and Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Steven Crow. All three bring decades of experience in their fields.

Tyner is familiar to the Southwestern College Community, having served as dean and interim vice president on campus. She began her permanent assignment May 24.

Román is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Employee Relations at the 19,000-student Pajaro Valley Unified School District. He begins June 18.

Crow is the Vice President for Administrative and Information Services at the College of the Siskiyous. He begins July 1.

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Last updated: 6/28/2016 10:51:03 AM