The summer class schedule is in full swing, and we have welcomed our College for Kids onto campus. Our new officers of the Associated Students Organization took on their leadership roles this month and wasted no time in bringing the college together for a moving and touching campus vigil in honor of the Orlando shooting victims. I applaud our entire college community for their compassion and our student government for their leadership.
Speaking of new student leadership, at our last Governing Board meeting I swore in our new student trustee, Freda Hernandez, who previously served as the senator for the Higher Education Center at National City. I look forward to working closely with Freda and learning from her unique perspective.
Tentative Budget Approved
Approving the tentative budget marks the beginning of our summer-long process to approve the final budget and to ensure that our resources are being used effectively. Thank you to Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Tim Flood for holding budget workshops during the day to allow more faculty, staff and students to attend.
Proposition R Update
Construction is moving at a rapid pace over the summer to take advantage of fewer students being on campus. At our main campus, the Wellness and Aquatics Complex’s foundation is being built and walls will soon start to go up.
At the Higher Education Center in National City, the Center for Business Advancement office remodel is on schedule, which will modernize and expand their existing space and build accommodations for the Small Business Development Center, the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center and the Center for International Trade Development. The new two-story classroom building, which is being built on the south side of the center, hit a tiny delay when construction crew found a tank buried underneath the site. Crew members are currently working to remove the tank and get us back on schedule.
The College is also preparing plans for the Higher Education Center in San Ysidro to position us for state construction funds when they become available. The San Ysidro plans include a new three-story building that will include labs, offices and a library.
Back at our main campus, we’ve begun the early process to demolish the old fitness education center and pools to make way for the new, state-of-the-art Math, Science and Engineering complex. To prepare for the demolition, the old buildings have been fenced off and a section of the northwest perimeter road will close for the summer.
A Neighborhood Partnership
Southwestern College is a proud member of the South Bay Adult Education Consortium with our neighbors at the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUSHD) and the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD). For this partnership, Southwestern College acts as the fiscal agent for the Adult Education Block Grant, and we approve the funding allocations from the grant for each district for the upcoming year. At the Sweetwater District, funds are being used to hire new employees, including a project director and administrative assistant. The Consortium, which is funded by the Adult Education Block Grant, helps fund continuing education for all adults, including English-language learners, adults looking to re-enter the workforce, special-skills seekers and adults with disabilities.
Refinancing Prop R. Bonds
With interest rates at an historic 50-year low, the Governing Board approved refinancing a portion of our bonds that will, in total, save taxpayers $13.4 million dollars without extending the life of the bonds.
Governing Board Workshop
Members of the board approved a tentative workshop schedule for the upcoming months. I’m excited to participate in these workshops that focus on accreditation, student achievement and our facilities master plan, to name a few, so that we can continue to better serve our students and our community.
On Friday, the Governing Board and Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish released a joint statement that Dr. Nish was resigning at the end of the month to pursue a sabbatical for personal and other professional development opportunities.
During the 4.5 years Dr. Nish has served at Southwestern College she has significantly increased the number of graduates transferring to the California State University system, forged alliances with universities on both sides of the border and led the collaborative effort to resolve procurement issues surrounding the Proposition R bond and re-energized the construction program that is now developing the long-vacant corner lot.
We thank Dr. Nish for her tireless work and wish her much continued success.
The Board will immediately select an interim Superintendent/President, and at the same time begin a search for a new permanent Superintendent/President.
As we start a new year, I am thankful to my colleagues for electing me to serve this year as Southwestern College’s Board President. Together with Tim Nader, our new vice president of the Governing Board, Governing Board Members Griselda Delgado, Norma Hernandez and Humberto Peraza, we will continue making decisions that put students first.
Before providing you highlights of our last Governing Board meeting, I am excited to share some of the exciting accomplishments of our students and staff.
Debate Team Juggernauts
Southwestern College’s debate team, led by Professor Jordan Mills, shut out the competition at the Robert Barbera Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament at California State University, Northridge. The only community college team to participate, Southwestern College beat four-year universities and made the final round unnecessary because of their sweep. To read more, click here
Southwestern College is Now Smoke-Free
Cigarettes and e-cigarettes are becoming extinct at the Southwestern College District. We continue our awareness campaigns to inform students of the new non-smoking regulations. Our health services department recently teamed up with our Associated Student Organization to show students cessation resources. To read more, click here
Customs Brokers Association Honors College Program
The San Diego Center for International Trade Development (CITD) was recently recognized for its training in customs compliance, homeland security issues and more. The San Diego Custom Brokers Association honored CITD, which is located at Southwestern College’s Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa, at a recent award ceremony. To read more, click here
Southwestern College’s Student Publications National Winners
Before the semester break, The Sun Newspaper, theswcsun.com affiliated website and the El Sol magazine won prestigious national awards. The newspaper and website were the only community college publications chosen for the Crown Award by the Columbia University Scholastic Press Association. And the summer 2015 issue of El Sol magazine won first place nationally from the American Scholastic Press Association.
Highlights of Student Equity Plan 2014-2017
Over the last two years, Southwestern College has piloted several research-based academic interventions to help boost student completion. Armed with the data of these pilots, the college will now greatly expand the number of students accessing these interventions to improve student success. Those interventions include embedding tutors in more gatekeeper classes, increasing outreach for veterans and foster youth, launching an online virtual tour to highlight student support services and fully implementing a notification system for students nearing degree/certificate completion requirements.
The district also recently completed a survey of prospective students and parents and current students to gauge determining factors in selecting Southwestern College for higher education.
Based upon those findings the college is strengthening relationships with Sweetwater Union High School District counselors.
Proposition R Update
When you get a chance, drive by East H Street and Otay Lakes Road. Construction preparation is happening for the new Wellness Center! The designs for the main building and pools are currently in review at the Division of State Architect. Other projects moving along include the selection of a portion of Lot B near the Gotham Street entrance on the Chula Vista campus for the construction of our public safety building. We also opened the construction bids for the two-story building at the Higher Education Center in National City on Dec. 11.
New Management Employees
We have some new employees joining the Southwestern College team in January.
Timothy Flood, former Vice President for Administrative Services at Grossmont College, joins us as our new Vice President for Business & Financial Affairs. Flood last year served as the interim president for Grossmont College while that college conducted a search for a permanent president.
We have hired two new deans, with more to be hired at our January meeting. Dr. Michael Odu will lead our School of Mathematics, Science & Engineering at a very exciting time. Dr. Odu, who comes to us from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., will oversee the construction of a new Math, Science and Engineering complex. Also joining us is James Spillers as the Dean for the School of Wellness, Exercise & Athletics. Spillers was most recently the associate dean of athletics at Grossmont College.
The Otay Mesa Higher Education Center will have a new Evening Center Supervisor. Christine Degano was most recently the director of student recruitment and visitor services at California State University, San Bernadino. Marvin Reyes is our new Maintenance Supervisor and comes to us with lots of experience from the United States Air Force.
Zaneta Encarnacion is our first full-time Executive Director of Foundation. Encarnacion has a record of accomplishment with organizations such as South Bay Community Services, The San Diego Foundation and the City of Chula Vista. We are excited to have her on board and can’t wait to see her position develop.
Employee of the Quarter
Carol Pullman, Disabled Student Services Technician in Disability Support Services, was selected as Employee of the Quarter. Those nominating Pullman said she provides exemplary customer service to both students and faculty. She is always very patient with the students who come from all walks of life and with various disabilities. A focused worker, Pullman has scheduled more than 3,900 exams for Disability Support Services test proctoring. Congratulations Carol!
Agreement with South Bay Community Services
—Free Income Tax Assistance
South Bay Community Services is teaming up with Southwestern College to provide free tax assistance to all district students and South County residents. South Bay Community Services will train volunteer tax preparers—including district students—and will be responsible for all aspects of tax return preparation and submission.
The South Bay Community Services mobile tax site will be available at Southwestern College’s Chula Vista campus from 9 am – 4:30 pm on February 4, 19; March 11, 18; and April 8, 15.
Speaker Series Contract
Southwestern College continues its efforts to build diversity awareness and invite courageous conversations through ongoing professional development and a speaker series. Through the Institute for Democratic Education and Culture, Southwestern College will host a variety of speakers whose experiences, knowledge and cultural awareness will deliver informative speeches that will help in reaching our goal of cultural inclusion. The Institute, which does business as SpeakOut, has a network of speakers who work with colleges, universities and organizations to promote critical analysis and innovative strategies to address sensitive topics such as race and social justice.
In other action: