Norma Hernandez GB President


Vol. 3, Issue 5

May is Southwestern College’s month of celebration, with multiple student recognition ceremonies leading up to one of the largest number of graduates participating in Commencement on May 29.

SWC Governing Board at 2015 Commencement
Trustees at Graduation

Strategies to Increase Completion Rates

During our Governing Board meeting in May, we reviewed faculty research to help us increase the percentage of students completing associate degrees and transferring to four-year universities. Among the strategies is reevaluating the number of courses students must take from the lowest basic skills level to transfer level to determine if acceleration or compression of courses is possible. We will also review whether to automatically award degrees for students who complete their coursework, rather than have them apply for their degree upon completion.

Recognizing Student Trustee Sayaka Ridley

We sent our good wishes to our outgoing Student Trustee Sayaka Ridley and thanked her for her year of service on the governing board.

L-R: Trustees Griselda Delgado, Humberto Peraza, Tim Nader, Sayaka Ridley, myself, Governing Board Vice President Nora Vargas, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish.
L-R: Trustees Griselda Delgado, Humberto Peraza, Tim Nader, Sayaka Ridley, myself, Governing Board Vice President Nora Vargas, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish.

Changes to Graduation Requirements

Faculty research over the last two years shows that local course requirements have increased the number of units our students must complete to earn a degree at Southwestern College. After consultation with all college stakeholders—led by our Academic Senate—the Governing Board accepted the recommendations to reduce some local course requirements. Southwestern College students will no longer be required to take health, exercise science and computer literacy classes to graduate. Additionally, we lowered the requirement for two other general education course categories. Students will now be required to complete 18-20 courses, rather than 27-31 courses for graduation.

Granting an Honorary Degree

Each year the Governing Board grants an honorary degree to a member of the community who has meritoriously contributed to the improvement of civic and social services, human relations, economic development, education, fine arts, medicine, science or technology. This year we granted the honorary degree to Ben Green. A lifelong resident of Chula Vista, Mr. Green is the president of the Southwestern College Education Foundation. On the foundation, Ben has been a key supporter of the Student of Distinction Award, the college’s highest academic award for students.

Proposition R Executive Update

Two of the college’s three major construction projects—the two-story addition at Higher Education Center, National City and site development for the new wellness center—are at the Division of State Architect (DSA) for review. The math, science and engineering building and the main building and pools for the wellness center are expected to go to DSA in June. All of the emergency communication blue poles have been installed on the Chula Vista campus and at the Higher Education Centers. They will all be fully operational by the end of the summer. Throughout the summer, additional buildings on the Chula Vista campus will be connected to the central plant—increasing heating and cooling efficiencies on campus.

Authorizing Series D Bond Sale

The Governing Board approved the sale of the fourth series of bonds under Proposition R in an amount not to exceed $135 million. The funds will be used to fully fund the projects for the corner lot. For additional information on the details of the bond sale, please read the district’s press release.

In other action:

  • Passed a resolution in support of Classified School Employee Week
  • Passed a resolution recognizing the contributions of Asian-American & Pacific Islanders in San Diego County
  • Hired Omar Orihuela as the director of Extended Opportunity Program & Services

Governing Board Workshop on Tentative Budget for 2015-16

In a workshop held May 27, the Governing Board had its first discussion of the new 2015-16 budget. With a total projected budget of $105,467,021, the Governing Board reviewed projections for hiring additional faculty and some new positions brought forward through the program review process. The Governing Board will discuss the tentative budget again at its June 10 meeting.



Vol. 3, Issue 4

The April Governing Board meeting provided important information on student success measures at Southwestern College and the intervention efforts being implemented to help improve student transfer and completion rates.

Student Success Scorecard

Each year the Governing Board reviews the scorecard of student achievement in different categories. The number of students completing Career Technical Education courses is the highest in five years. And the students coming to Southwestern College prepared to take college-level courses is the highest it has been in three years. However, our overall completion rate remains at a plateau. We see that interventions in remedial math and English are showing significant gains in student achievement. For example, students in remedial math saw an 11% percentage point increase. The college is looking to expand these efforts across the district to impact more students.

Puertas al Futuro Grant

Part of the college-wide interventions will be funded by a new $2.397 million federal Title V grant—Puertas al Futuro or Doors to the Future. In her report to the Governing Board, Title V Director Dr. Leonor Perez said the college has already begun a first-year experience that pairs students with College Success Team mentors. Additional tutors have been embedded in key English, math and writing courses to help students succeed in these gatekeeper classes. The math faculty has endorsed a math course that moves students from pre-algebra to introduction to statistics in two semesters. These math courses will be offered in Fall, 2015. Additional research-based interventions will be implemented throughout the five-year period of the grant.

Accelerating Construction of New Math, Science and Engineering Building

The Governing Board voted to accelerate by a year the construction of the new math, science and engineering building. The building will be built on the area where the current pool and gymnasium are located.  The board instructed staff to ensure an agreement was in place to accommodate the college’s aquatic teams before beginning demolition. Staff from Southwestern and the Sweetwater Union High School District—which has several high school teams practicing at the college pool—are working together to secure a temporary aquatic location.

In other Proposition R news, the Governing Board received a timeline for the sale of the next series of bonds to fund projects.

Student Access, Equity, Success and Completion

Beginning with a student success workshop in October, the Governing Board has been working through the college’s shared governance to develop a statement that outlines our commitment to student access, equity, success and completion. We pledge to do our part to increase the number of individuals with high quality postsecondary degrees, certifications and skills for the workforce to fulfill critical local, state and national goals. To view the full statement, click here.

Building an Inclusive College and Working Environment

College campuses are a marketplace of ideas, and as such the boundaries of speech, ideology and social activism are often tested. As a result, there is bound to be conflict and discord. Recently, a department within the college brought allegations of racism to the attention of college leadership. We have been quick to investigate the allegations. We have also reached out to the NAACP and Assemblywomen Shirley Weber and Lorena Gonzalez. At the Governing Board meeting last week, we hired the Anti-Defamation League to present their “A World of Difference” Institute Training Program. We have also hired an external investigator as an additional review of district investigations. These measures supplement the efforts made since the beginning of the semester to embrace and celebrate the diversity we have.

In Other Action:

  • Approved early retirement incentives to those classified and academic employees who qualify
  • Accepted articles for negotiation for the Southwestern Community College District Administrators Association and the Classified School Employees’ Association Chapter 254
  • Ratified an agreement with The Regents of the University of California for the Puente Project
  • Accepted an additional $36,000 in funding from the California Division of Boating and Waterways to fund programs at the Crown Cove Aquatic Center


Norma Hernandez GB President


GB News - Vol. 3, Issue 3

Holding our Governing Board meeting at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa in March gave us an opportunity to hear our fire science and paramedic faculty and students tell us about their successes. The students’ inspiring stories of overcoming serious health and economic challenges to complete the program made us all proud.

Program graduate Justin Kelly tells his inspiring story of overcoming a debilitating health challenge and completing the EMT program.
Program graduate Justin Kelly tells his inspiring story of overcoming a debilitating health challenge and completing the EMT program.

Other highlights include:

MYPD phone app

Police Chief Michael Cash demonstrated a new phone application that will connect students and staff directly with the Southwestern College Police Department. With just one click, students and staff can request a police escort, send an email to the chief and submit crime tips. The app also links to county and federal law enforcement resources. Special thanks to Trustee Nora Vargas who suggested the college find the app to give students and staff one more tool to keep connected with safety messages and tips.

New Hires

Southwestern College has received additional state funds to support student success. A critical factor in student success is access to academic and career counselors. At the March meeting, we hired four new full-time counselors and changed the status of an additional temporary counselor to permanent status. We also hired a replacement deputy director for the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center.

Proposition R Updates

We accepted the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee Annual Report. The report summarized the activities of the bond oversight committee members and highlighted construction projects completed during the period of the report. To see a full copy of the report, click here.

Our Proposition R team continues meeting with the user groups for our new Math, Science and Engineering and our new Performing Arts and Cultural Center buildings. The installation of the district’s emergency blue light communication poles is nearing completion on the Chula Vista campus and at the Higher Education Centers. To see the full report, click here.

Employee of the Quarter

We recognized Maria Beltran, the Education Center Coordinator for the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa, as the Employee of the Quarter. Whether Maria is welcoming faculty to the Center or coordinating events the Center hosts in partnership with the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, she is dependable, professional and eager to contribute to the success of the Center and Southwestern College. Maria exhibits an overall superior work ethic and she has an exceptional spirit of service.

Maria Beltran accepts her Employee of the Quarter award.
Maria Beltran accepts her Employee of the Quarter award.

In other action:

  • We accepted $36,000 in grant funds from the California Department of Boating and Waterways to purchase sailing and paddle sport equipment for the Crown Cove Aquatic Center. Funds will also be used to provide scholarships for area youth to attend aquatic recreational and leadership development camps throughout the year.
  • Formed a Governing Board Legislative Ad Hoc Committee, consisting of members Humberto Peraza, Jr. and Nora E. Vargas, to review legislation important to the college.

Career Technical Education Workshop

With renewed interest in Career Technical Education at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, we reviewed the efforts and programs at Southwestern College.

There is a concerted effort to leverage local, state and federal CTE funding and create regional advisory boards to maximize input from local businesses. The Chancellor’s Office has created a statewide structure for CTE that identifies 10 industry clusters and centralizes funding and services around those sectors. Each region of the state—of which there are seven—selected industry clusters that best addressed the workforce needs of that region.

In the San Diego and Imperial counties region, priority industry sectors are Advanced Transportation & Renewables, Health and Life Sciences/Biotech. Advanced Manufacturing is an emergent industry sector for our region. Community colleges in our counties are strengthening programs around these industry sectors as well as surveying the business needs within each attendance area. With cooperation and participation of all seven colleges in the two counties, we address seven of the 10 industry clusters.

Pay Raises for All Employees

At its March 25 meeting, the Governing Board unanimously approved 2% pay increases for all employees.



Here are some highlights from the February Governing Board meetings.

Cross-border Outreach

Two memoranda of understanding with two Tijuana universities were passed by the Governing Board.

The agreements with Centro de Enseñanza Técnica Y Superior Universidad (CETYS), México, and Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana (UTT), México hope to create and expand cross-border programs and to make student exchanges between the two countries more affordable and enticing to students.

You can read the full story here.

Salary Restoration

At the Feb. 18 Governing Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to approved a measure to repay college employees who took salary cuts during the 2012-13 school year.

The restored salary will be in employees’ March paychecks.

Prop R Update

Construction of the math, science and engineering (MSE) building could begin in summer 2015, a year earlier than originally slated.

Pushing the timeline forward on MSE construction will allow students access to the new facility earlier and increase local work opportunities through the Prop. R community benefits agreement.

MSE construction is projected to finish in 2017, congruent with the completion of the National City Higher Education Center two-story building. Performing arts center and associated parking structure construction on the Chula Vista Campus is projected to be finished by 2018.

Acceptance of Gifts

A 1979 Pierce fire engine and more than $21,000 were donated to Southwestern College and accepted by the Governing Board at the Feb. 18 meeting.

Donated funds will go to the Women’s Resource Center, the Department of Environmental Hazardous Materials Technology and the San Diego Contracting Opportunities Center. The fire engine will go to the fire science program.

Brown Act Workshops

At their Feb. 25 special meeting, the Southwestern College Governing Board hosted two workshops on the Ralph M. Brown Act, a California law that regulates the meetings of legislative bodies.

Leon Schorr, a San Diego County deputy district attorney, presented the first workshop, which focused on reporting requirements for public officials.

The second was presented by Trevin Sims, Southwestern College general counsel, and addressed conflict of interest regulations.


Welcome to Spring Semester

It is my pleasure to welcome our newest Governing Board Member, Griselda Delgado, and to congratulate Members Tim Nader and Nora Vargas for their successful elections.

Ms. Delgado is currently a principal at Hilltop Middle and before that was a principal at one of our feeder high schools. Ms. Delgado began her teaching career working with some of the hardest-to-serve students in Los Angeles and Imperial counties. She has created curriculum for at-risk English language learners, and she brings a unique perspective to the board—having served eight years in the U.S. Army.

Griselda Delgado
Griselda Delgado

Restoring Salaries

In 2013 all employees at Southwestern College took a 5% salary reduction to help the district address the effects of the worst recession in recent history. Thanks to additional funding later that year, we were able to restore 1.5% of that salary reduction to employees.

As the economy has improved, I am happy to report that the Governing Board will vote this month to restore the remaining 3.5% to all employees. We are most grateful for the sacrifices our employees made to minimize the impact on student programs.

Advocating for Southwestern College

Last month, Trustees Nader, Delgado and Humberto Peraza joined me, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish and ASO VP Leo Pascual in our annual legislative advocacy conference in Sacramento. As a new trustee, Ms. Delgado immersed herself in special workshops on college funding, policies and procedures and effective trustee governance.

While we heard about the Governor’s proposed budget for education and student success initiatives, some of the most beneficial time was that spent with each of the assembly and senate members representing our area. In conjunction with the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association, we advocated for an expansion of the baccalaureate degrees for community colleges, budget stability and loosening some of the restrictions on concurrent enrollment for high school students.

Pictured L-R: ASO VP Leo Pascual, myself, Trustee Tim Nader, Trustee Griselda Delgado, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish. (Not pictured: Trustee Humberto Peraza, Jr.)
Pictured L-R: ASO VP Leo Pascual, myself, Trustee Tim Nader, Trustee Griselda Delgado, Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish. (Not pictured: Trustee Humberto Peraza, Jr.)

Students, trustees and CEOs from each of the SDICCCA colleges met with Sen. Marty Block last month in Sacramento
Students, trustees and CEOs from each of the SDICCCA colleges met with Sen. Marty Block last month in Sacramento.

African-American History Month

We have a month of activities planned this month to celebrate African American History Month, including art exhibits, poetry readings and a gospel brunch. We hope you’ll join us at one or more of the activities. For a full listing, click here.

Resolution in Support of Adjunct Faculty

Studies show that a well-paid, stable faculty workforce contributes to student success. That is why at the December meeting the Governing Board voted unanimously to support part-time faculty by requesting the Governor and state Department of Finance permanently fund equity compensation and paid office hours for part-time faculty in the California Community College system. We also requested that $100 million be allocated statewide to increase the number of permanent, full-time faculty positions.

To read about the other actions we took recently, click here.




Encouraging students to select Southwestern College as their first choice for higher education is a primary goal this year. The Governing Board heard about our advertising and outreach activities at our January meeting. An “Invest in Yourself” ad campaign began running last semester and our peer advisors are increasing their presence around the community.

Pathway to Point Loma Nazarene

The Southwestern College district has entered into an agreement with Point Loma Nazarene University to establish a transfer program.

Students within the program will take classes together at Southwestern College after which they will be accepted to Point Loma Nazarene University.

PLNU will provide $1,000 to the Southwestern College library for each cohort and give one student in each cohort a 75 percent tuition scholarship to PLNU.

Corner Lot Update

The fitness and wellness company MediFit will provide managing and operating services for the wellness center upon its completion. The Governing Board also selected Tucker Sadler Architects to begin architectural and design services for the new performing arts center and parking structure Prop R projects.

Sexual Harassment Training

Southwestern College is committed to a safe learning environment and has contracted with We End Violence to create an online anti-violence training program for Southwestern College students.

We End Violence is an organization led by Southwestern College Adjunct Professor Jeffrey Bucholtz that addresses the fundamental causes of violence, focusing on the cultural attitudes and behaviors that allow violence and discrimination to flourish.

The program, titled Agent of Change, will use the latest violence-prevention strategies to address topics required under the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.

Clean Audits

Independent audit reports into Southwestern College Foundation, Proposition AA and Proposition R spending for the 2013-2014 show full compliance with Government Auditing Standards.

The three audits, conducted by Pun & McGeady, LLP, returned as unqualified, the highest grade a college can receive from an independent audit.

Other Actions taken in January:

  • Teri Ashabraner, academic human resources technician, was named Employee of the Quarter.
  • Revised and approved the 2015 governing board tentative study session/retreat schedule available here.


Student Equity Plan

The Student Equity Plan subcommittee has researched completion rates among all student groups and has created a plan to increase student completion. At the top of the list is expanding tutoring programs and expanding boot-camp preparation courses for incoming freshman. Additional basic skills and cultural competence training was also suggested for faculty.

The report also suggested improving targeted outreach and image-enhancing marketing to attract a diverse student population.

The Governing Board unanimously adopted the plan.

Consulate Agreement

The Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego gave Southwestern College a $15,000 grant to provide stipends for students in the Institute for Mexicans Abroad Fellowship Program. Students in the program will mentor fellow students during the fall and spring semesters. The district will provide $3,000 in matching funds for the program.

Other Actions Taken in December:

  • Hired Dr. Leonor Perez as the Title V project director.
  • Accepted a $3,000 donation from Blossom Sanger to develop at Micro Enterprise Family Child Care alumni/mentor program at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa.
  • Approved the Governing Board goals available here.
  • Approved the 2015 Governing Board meeting schedule available here.
  • Elected Norma Hernandez as Board President, Nora Vargas as Vice President and Superintendent/President Dr. Melinda Nish as Secretary.
Last updated: 9/9/2015 11:56:32 AM