November 30, 2015

Recognition for Supporting Student Success

As we continue our pursuit to put Students First, it is always exciting when outside organizations recognize the accomplishments of our faculty, students and staff.

Recently I had the pleasure to attend the recognition ceremony held by the San Diego State University Community College Leaders Alumni Group. Our Counselor Gabrielle Gosselin received the Adjunct Faculty Contribution to Student Success Recognition Award on Nov. 2.

Nominated by Dr. Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete, Gabrielle counsels students on the many possibilities before them at Southwestern College. Gabrielle has worked in East Africa with women who were victims of gender-based violence and with boys left homeless by that country’s genocide. She brings this passion for immigrant and refugee populations to help our diverse student population.

Please join me in congratulating Gabrielle.

Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete, Gabrielle Gosselin and Dr. Nish
L-R: Dr. Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete, Gabrielle Gosselin and myself

Accreditation in Action

I hope you have had a chance to read the last couple issues of the new Accreditation in Action e-newsletter. As we await the final report of the Accreditation team, I want to assure you that we have already begun to address some of the deficiencies that were mentioned during the exit interview. The e-newsletter is our way of informing the entire college community of these pro-active steps.

Later this week, we will be posting all the e-newsletters and resource information to the college website so that you can catch up on any issues you may have missed.

I encourage you to read the e-newsletters and attend one of the two forums we will be having before the end of the semester.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 11 – 11:45 a.m. in Room 214
  • Monday, Dec. 7 at 4 – 4:45 p.m. in Room L 246

Debate Team Unmatchable

The Southwestern College Novices won the Cal State-Northridge Robert Barbera Invitational earlier this month. Not only did they win the competition, our two teams advanced to the final round—shutting out the competition and making a final round unnecessary.

Led by Professor Jordan Mills, students Jorge del Castillo and Priscilla Romero had a record of 5-1 coming out of the preliminary debates before defeating Fresno State University’s team to advance to the finals. Their teammates Daniel Smiley and Francesca Beaird also earned a 5-1 record before defeating cross-town rival San Diego State University to advance to the finals.

Southwestern College was the only community college entered into the policy debate, and it was the second consecutive year our teams have won the tournament. Congratulations to all eight members of the team who spent more than 14 hours debating over the tournament weekend.

For the second consecutive year, our debaters are the best in the state. Pictured L-R: Daniel Smiley, Francesca Beaird, Priscilla Romero and Jorge del Castillo.
Victorious debaters: For the second consecutive year, our debaters are the best in the state. Pictured L-R: Daniel Smiley, Francesca Beaird, Priscilla Romero and Jorge del Castillo.

More State Winners

The Southwestern College Sun has tied the state record for most awards won at the Southern California Conference of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges—a record The Sun set a few years ago. Students from The Sun, El Sol magazine and theswcsun.com won 40 individual and team awards, including general excellence in each of the three publication platforms. Southwestern College also ranked as the top program.

Congratulations to advisor Dr. Max Branscomb and his talented group of students for their well-deserved recognition. 

Support for our AB540 Students

Our relationship with Mexican Consul General Remedios Gomez Arnau continues to be a source of great support for our AB 540 students. Earlier this month, the Consul General presented Southwestern College with a $20,000 IME Becas scholarship award. It was the largest award granted by the Consul General to any college or university.

In its third year at Southwestern College, the IME Becas funds are used to provide scholarships to our AB 540 students as they complete their studies here through our Adelante Estudiante program. Attending the program for Southwestern College were Dean Bea Zamora-Aguilar, EOPS Director Omar Orihuela, EOPS Supervisor Leticia Diaz and former Southwestern College student Brenda Gregorio-Nieto, who has now transferred to San Diego State University to study journalism.

Funds will benefit our AB 540 “Dreamer” students. Pictured L-R: EOPS Supervisor Leticia Diaz, former student Brenda Gregorio-Nieto, Dean Bea Zamora-Aguilar and EOPS Director Omar Orihuela.
Accepting the award: Funds will benefit our AB 540 “Dreamer” students. Pictured L-R: EOPS Supervisor Leticia Diaz, former student Brenda Gregorio-Nieto, Dean Bea Zamora-Aguilar and EOPS Director Omar Orihuela.

Mexican Consul General Remedios Gomez Arnau (R) provides the scholarship check to Dean Bea Zamora-Aguilar (L).
Check Presentation: Mexican Consul General Remedios Gomez Arnau (R) provides the scholarship check to Dean Bea Zamora-Aguilar (L).


November 3, 2015

Testing Our Preparedness

Please participate in the college-wide emergency preparedness drill this morning! The short drill will take place from 10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. and will be a shelter-in-place drill. The drill, which has been jointly planned by Campus Police and ASO, will test our new blue pole communication system, as well as our emergency call out text and phone system.

Campus police has created several educational materials that can help each of us prepare for the drill today. The materials were included in the email I sent Monday, but can also be accessed on the website at www.swccd.edu/drills

Open Dialogue Regarding Reorganization

Last week I had several opportunities to meet with employees interested in sharing their ideas and concerns about the upcoming Academic Affairs reorganization.

What I heard during the open forum Tuesday and at my coffee chat on Thursday was a question of timing. Some asked why we were "in a rush" to implement by January. Others asked why it's taking us so long to implement.

I can tell you that we have been thinking about the reorganization for over a year and actively planning for over six months. Once we announced the early retirement incentive, we knew there would be a major personnel shift. That expectation has come to fruition. We have five deans who will have retired by December and we knew that redirecting duties was not going to be sustainable.

During the fall semester, we held seven open forums to gather ideas of how best to realign academic affairs. I want to thank Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Tyner for leading this initiative. We seriously listened to the many ideas that were proposed and did not impose a plan. We also did not impose a budget restriction.  Instead, we developed a model with significant input and support and assured that the budget would support it.

Legitimate concerns expressed at both of my recent meetings were questions of sufficient resources to support the academic realignment and the ability to attract quality personnel.

We are reviewing all areas in terms of classified support. VPAA Tyner and the deans have been meeting and discussing a myriad of details—everything from faculty mailboxes to supply budgets. We have, and will continue, to rely on our employees to let us know the impacts to their areas. I know that many of you are passionate about those concerns. I assure you, we want to hear your concerns and ideas. If we find anything insurmountable, I promise we will reconsider the implementation.

To address the question of quality personnel: we want to have our academic leadership in place as close to the beginning of the spring semester as possible. Why the urgency? We expect to hire more than 20 full-time, tenure-track faculty next semester. This is our largest investment, and we want to ensure permanent academic administrators help make those selections.

There has been a question of how we ensure diverse and robust applicant pools. We want our employment announcements to go far and wide. Human Resources is responsible for recruitment but you can help. We are asking that you send job announcements to your network of colleagues and encourage them to apply. We hope that many of our own staff members will consider applying for open positions as well.

To encourage more diversity in our hiring, we’ve updated the screening and hiring process to include a revamped orientation for all hiring committees. The orientation now includes training to better address personal bias and encourage the value of diversity in hiring. 

We can make this a magical moment in our college’s history. There is a true sense of family here. I know that we will all come together to welcome these new family members.


October 12, 2015

Southwestern College in the Community

Our newest partnership that allows Southwestern College graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree without leaving Chula Vista is getting some important regional attention.

On Oct. 2, the South County Economic Development Council presented the Regional Leadership Award to Southwestern College and Point Loma Nazarene University for providing four-year degrees to area residents. Receiving the award with me at the SCEDC Summit was PLNU President Dr. Bob Brower.

The first cohorts of students seeking bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice and nursing began this fall. We’ll add another cohort in these two areas in the spring semester and begin cohorts in child development and management and relational development.

Dr. Brower and I accepting the Regional Leadership Award.
Photo: Dr. Brower and I accepting the Regional Leadership Award.

Last week, PLNU Vice President Dr. Joe Watkins and I were able to provide more information on the partnership at the monthly meeting of South County Economic Development Council members. 

Dr. Watkins and I present to a full house at the monthly SCEDC meeting.
Photo: Dr. Watkins and I present to a full house at the monthly SCEDC meeting.

The opportunities for bachelor’s degrees in South County were also welcome news at last week’s Chula Vista City Council meeting, where I provided an update on our college’s accomplishments of the past year.

I was able to share that not only has the Point Loma Nazarene University program begun, but that Southwestern College offers the highest number of Associate Degree for Transfer majors of any community college in San Diego County. With 23 majors approved by the Chancellor’s Office, Southwestern College students have many opportunities to begin their four-year academic journey here.

Councilmembers were overwhelmingly supportive of our progress, with what we have been doing academically but also with the plans for our upcoming Proposition R projects.

Sharing our transfer success at the Chula Vista City Council meeting.
Photo: Sharing our transfer success at the Chula Vista City Council meeting.

Building Bridges

The last month has marked a renewed energy and collaboration between Southwestern College and the Sweetwater Union High School District.

On Sept. 22, we hosted a joint school board meeting where staff from both districts shared data and programs with trustees from both districts. It was the first time the two boards had met in 10 years and resulted in fruitful discussions, mutual interests to pursue and a commitment to meet again in six months.

One of the first successes is a joint counselors’ meeting being held today. Student Union East was full of energy this morning as counselors from our two districts planned activities and shared resources for creating smooth transitions for Sweetwater District graduates attending Southwestern.

Dean Bea Zamora and Operations Supervisor Zeidy Barrera worked closely with their counterparts at Sweetwater to get the most from their time together this morning.

One of my greatest pleasures is sharing the great work of our students, faculty, staff and administrators with our community.

Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Angelica Suarez and I are excited to welcome Sweetwater counselors.
Photo: Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Angelica Suarez and I are excited to welcome Sweetwater counselors.


September 28, 2015

Welcoming the Accreditation Team

Today we welcome the Accreditation team to Southwestern College!

Six years of extraordinary efforts to improve our college are now being reviewed by the team, chaired by Dr. Jowel Laguerre, the chancellor for the Peralta Community College District. Team members are out visiting the Higher Education Centers and the Crown Cove Aquatic Center this morning. Please give them a warm welcome if you see them walking around the centers or around the Chula Vista campus. Here is a link to their photos and bios so that you can get to know them better.

Hopefully you have had a chance to review the Accreditation FAQ. On the FAQ are the top 14 facts about accreditation and how it is integrated at Southwestern.

Finally, there are several opportunities for you to speak with accreditation team members over the next few days. We’ve posted a forum schedule, which also includes Thursday’s exit interview. To see the schedule, click here.

I am extremely proud of the work that we have accomplished and I am eager for the team to see us in action.

Celebrating Employees of the Quarter

Over the last several months we have recognized two Classified Employees of the Quarter.

In June, accountant Rizza De La Cuadra, was recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for July – September, 2015. Those nominating Rizza say she is a modest, hardworking employee who will always take time to assist her colleagues. She is very knowledgeable on the grant and accounting budgets she oversees, and has taken the initiative to complete all grant reporting to the Chancellor’s Office.

Accountant Rizza De La Cuadra recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for July – September, 2015
Photo: Accountant Rizza De La Cuadra recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for July – September, 2015

This month, we recognized library technical services technician Deborah Peckenpaugh as the Employee of the Quarter for October – December, 2015. Those nominating Deborah say she is a “what can I do” and “not a problem!” person. Deborah has daily interaction with students and faculty and offers excellent customer service, directing, instructing and referring students to various service points within the library and throughout campus.

Library Technical Services Technician Deborah Peckenpaugh is recognized as Employee of the Quarter October – December, 2015. CSEA President Andre Harris waits to present Deborah with flowers.
Photo: Library Technical Services Technician Deborah Peckenpaugh is recognized as Employee of the Quarter October – December, 2015. CSEA President Andre Harris waits to present Deborah with flowers.

Rizza and Deborah obviously enjoy their jobs, and it shines through. Please join me in congratulating these two deserving Employees of the Quarter.

Performing Arts & Cultural Center Forums

There are still two more opportunities to see the preliminary design concepts for the new Performing Arts and Cultural Center. On Wednesday, we are hosting an early-morning community breakfast and presentation of the design. Breakfast will be served at 7 a.m. in Student Union East and the presentation will be held from 7:30 – 9 a.m.  If you are interested in attending and have not RSVPd yet, please click here so that we can get a final food count.

The second opportunity is a campus forum on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Boardroom, Room 214.

We have also posted the architect’s PowerPoint on the Proposition R webpage, along with an electronic feedback form. I encourage you to look at the PowerPoint and leave your feedback. The two links are here.

Performing Arts and Cultural Center Design Elevations
Photo: Preliminary renderings of the new Performing Arts and Cultural Center.


September 9, 2015

Settling Into the New Semester

Welcome to Fall 2015!  We have had a great start to a new year and a new compressed calendar. To kick off the semester our ASO President/Student Trustee Melissa Rodriguez and her executive team created “Ask Me” tables and located them in strategic areas around the Chula Vista campus. Staffed by dozens of students and staff the first two days of school, the volunteers were able to answer questions on everything from where to get their student ID, to buying parking permits to providing maps and directions. Thank you to all those who helped provide a welcome smile to our students those critical first days of class. The “Ask Me” tables were so successful that the ASO is hoping to expand the concept to the Higher Education Centers next semester.

Celebrating Success

Throughout the year, our students, faculty and staff receive recognitions from organizations throughout our region and state. We wanted to create a more formal way of providing college-wide recognition of your achievements.  In our first issue of Celebrating Success, you’ll see the summer accomplishments of our student journalists from The Sun, Hall of Fame recognition for The Sun advisor Dr. Max Branscomb, and special statewide appointments for DSS Director Dr. Malia Flood and CSEA Chapter 524 President Andre Harris. To read all the exciting details, click here.

This month we began collecting information of your achievements through an online form. We are hoping you will take the time to fill in the short form and tell us your achievements and recognitions. Your deans and supervisors also have fillable PDFs where they can share your success. Either way, we hope to gather the information each month and share it with our Governing Board. To access the form, click here.

Academic Affairs Reorganization

Now is the time to make your opinions heard as we explore the reorganization of the Academic Affairs division. We’ve already had some lively and engaging conversations. Don’t miss your chance over the next several days to see the two proposed designs and provide your feedback.

The following dates, times and locations will be:

  • Thursday, Sept. 10 from 10 – 11 a.m. at the HEC SY, Room 5210
  • Thursday, Sept. 10 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. in Room L 238 N/S
  • Friday, Sept. 11 from 10 – 11:30 p.m. in the Fieldhouse Theater, Room H312
  • Tuesday, Sept. 15 from 1 – 2 p.m. at the HEC OM, Room 4500 conference center

To view the two designs in SharePoint, click here. You will need to sign into SharePoint.


May 19, 2015

Celebrating Our Students

Pride was the emotion of the month as our students in ESL, IME Becas, DSS, EOPS, Puente and UC San Diego Chancellor’s Associate Scholars walked across the stage for recognition. In ceremonies beginning May 8 and running through last Thursday, parents, faculty and staff heard inspiring stories from our students as they achieved the next milestone in their lives.

Thank you to all those who organized these special recognition ceremonies. With family and friends in attendance, these ceremonies are a meaningful way to celebrate the individual achievements of our students. As soon as we get photos from the ESL, IME Becas and DSS ceremonies, we’ll post them in the next column.

Puente celebration
Puente celebration

EOPS celebration
EOPS celebration

UCSD Chancellor’s Scholars
UCSD Chancellor’s Scholars: Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla selected 14 Southwestern College students to receive the scholarships that will pay all tuition and fees for their next two years at UCSD. Pictured here are eight of the 12 students who accepted the scholarship. A celebration was held for them at the Hall of Champions.

International Recognition for Our Students

Congratulations to the members of our ASTRA Community Service Club for receiving the Altrusa International Recognition Award for outstanding service to the community. Members of the ASTRA club celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday by reading to the children of the Mi Escuelita Program at South Bay Community Services. Altrusa International will make a $100 donation to the Mi Escuelita Program in the name of our ASTRA club.

ASTRA Community Service Club President Kasey Thomas at Read Across America Day at Mi Esquelita Preschool
ASTRA Community Service Club President Kasey Thomas at Read Across America Day at Mi Esquelita Preschool

Thank a Classified Employee        

This week we celebrate Classified Employees’ Week. Thank you to all our classified professionals who contribute greatly to our students’ and college’s success.


May 4, 2015

Season Where Students Shine

Our Student of Distinction Awards have officially kicked off the season of student celebrations. We honored 20 SODA winners whose majors range from biology to political science. We had students who aspire to elementary school teachers and others who will photograph the stars for Vogue magazine. Among these award-winning students are six students who are part of the MESA program, eight students who are part of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and three who are members of both prestigious programs.

Their scholarships are largely funded by the Southwestern College Education Foundation. Additionally, a total of 57 people or organizations provided more than $134,000 in student scholarships because they care about the promise each of our students possess. We thank our community for their generosity each year.

Our 2015 SODA winners
Our 2015 SODA winners

On Friday evening, we celebrated our math, science and engineering students as well as our journalism students during their annual recognition events. More than two dozen students were recognized in the two celebrations. Also receiving special awards at the Celebration of The Sun gala were Southwestern College graduates who are now working in the professional media as well Governing Board President Norma Hernandez, Professor Angie Stuart and Performing Arts Coordinator Silvia Lugo. President Hernandez received the First Amendment award, Professor Stuart received the Phillip Lopez Courage of the Lion Award and Silvia Lugo received the Champion of Journalism Students award. It was a special night for our students and all those in attendance at both events.

Honoring our Faculty Leaders

Congratulations to our fabulous faculty leaders! Before the April Governing Board meeting, we recognized the four recipients of this year’s Faculty Recognition Awards. Thank you to each of the winners for continuing to advance our students’ first efforts.

  • Full Time Faculty Excellence: Maria E. Martinez Sanabria
  • Part Time Faculty Excellence: Jeff Bucholtz
  • Full Time Professional Leadership: Randy Beach
  • Part Time Professional Leadership: Diana De la Torre

Faculty Awards Winners
Pictured (L-R): Academic Senate President Patricia Flores-Charter, myself, Governing Board President Norma Hernandez, Maria E. Martinez-Sanabria, Randy Beach, Diana De la Torre, Governing Board Vice President Nora Vargas, Governing Board Member Humberto Peraza, Governing Board Member Griselda Delgado. (not pictured: Jeff Bucholtz, Governing Board Member Tim Nader, Student Trustee Sayaka Ridley)

Valuing Equity and Inclusion

When the Sun printed a copy of a letter signed by members of our campus alleging racism and harassment, it provided an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to building a community of inclusion, respect and equity. While we celebrate our diversity through guest speakers on campus—including Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade at our spring opening day—and other activities throughout the year, we understand we must work daily to ensure a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

If we are to provide an environment of academic excellence, each of our employees must feel comfortable in their workplace. We are committed to investigating each and every complaint brought to us. The custodians’ allegations—some of which dated to 2009—were investigated at that time, and are being reinvestigated now. It is understandable that people will have questions and concerns during the investigative process. We ask that people not rush to judgment based upon an incomplete picture.

I understand this lack of information can create a sense of mistrust. I commit to you that we will be fair and thorough in this investigation, because we are committed to a workplace free of discrimination or harassment.

To help guide us all through this commitment, a Diversity and Equity Committee co-chaired by Vice President of Employee Services John Clark and Staff Development Coordinator Janelle Williams will work to integrate our values of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion into everything we do. I am pleased to report that the Shared Consultation Council voted last month to make the committee a standing committee of the SCC. Using a framework that encompasses training, recruitment and hiring and decision making, the committee will solicit ideas that make all of us feel included. If you have ideas for any of the objectives on the framework, please bring them forward to John, Janelle or your SCC representative. SCC will vote discuss and vote on the framework at the May 20 meeting.

It is only working together and trusting each of our best intentions that we become a stronger college for our students.


April 20, 2015

Accreditation Alert

We begin our countdown to the accreditation team’s visit to Southwestern College next fall by launching and rolling out our Self Evaluation Report (SER).

Tomorrow, we will kick off the review of the report with a specific emphasis on what we have done on our 10 Actionable Improvement Plans and where we still need to go.  To see the draft, click on the Accreditation page on the website. Please join us in Room 214 at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Thursday, we’ll release the Self Evaluation Report on the webpage and in SharePoint. We’re planning a series of workshops Thursday that will review Standards IIA, IIB and IIC. You’re invited to attend sessions to review those sections beginning at 11 a.m. Please look out for global emails announcing the room locations.

Then we’ll wrap up the week with a review of Standards IIA, IIB and the technology advancements in IIIC. We expect to have the meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday. Again, please look out for global emails announcing the room locations.

Building an Inclusive College and Working Environment

Today we welcome members of our college and neighboring community to Southwestern College for the kick off of a new Strategic Planning cycle. This dialogue is a perfect backdrop to renewed conversations we are having to build an inclusive college and working environment among our faculty, staff and students.

Over the last month, an ad hoc committee has met twice to establish a framework to help guide us all in creating a systemic integration of values that support student success at Southwestern College. Those values are respect, equity, diversity and inclusion. The result of the meetings is a four-pronged approach to build this environment. To see the framework, click here

The framework is now being circulated among college constituency groups for feedback and input at the April 22 and 29 SCC meetings.

Thank you for joining me on this journey as we continue to serve our students and each other.

Compressed Calendar Begins in Fall

To continue our theme of students’ first, we are ready to begin our compressed calendar schedule in the fall. We’ll offer classes that begin as early at 7 a.m. and others that end as late as 10 p.m. to better serve the wide-ranging needs of our students.

The Most Exciting Time of Year

The celebration season begins this week with the Student of Distinction and Scholarship Awards Ceremony. On Wednesday, we’ll recognize 20 SODA winners—students who represent the passion and persistence to achieve great things.

Thanks to the Southwestern College Education Foundation, our SODA winners are each receiving $875 to assist them in their continued studies.  In total, we’ll be distributing more than $134,000 in scholarships to 137 students.

Journalism Program’s Continued Record of Excellence

Congratulations to Dr. Max Branscomb and his talented student journalists for another excellent showing at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges convention.

The Sun earned its 14th consecutive Pacesetter Award and all three student journalism platforms—The Sun, El Sol magazine and theswcsun.com were presented General Excellence awards. Southwestern College Sun students earned 30 team and individual awards, the most of any California community college.

This caps an excellent year of awards by Sun students. You make us all very proud.


April 14, 2015

Coffee Chat This Thursday in Otay Mesa
This month’s coffee chat goes on the road with a meeting at the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa. I hope you can join me on Thursday, April 16 from 10 – 11 a.m. in Room 4121. Great ideas come from these smaller group discussions.

Open Hours This Friday
Don’t have a chance to make it to the coffee chat on Thursday? Please feel free to set up a time to meet with me one-on-one during Open Hours on Friday, April 17 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. You can sign up for 15-minute private meetings by going to the webpage and filling out the form.

Good News in April Paychecks
Thanks to the unanimous vote by the Governing Board in March, all employees will receive a 2% pay increase—retro to July 1—effective this month. You will see the bump in your April paychecks.

Additionally on the Governing Board agenda tomorrow are two resolutions offering early retirement incentives for classified and academic employees. If approved, we will begin sending out additional information so employees can make an informed decision.

Open Arms for Guardian Scholars, Community

The beauty and generosity of Southwestern College was on full display for our community before spring break when we hosted our 11th annual Cesar Chavez Scholarship Breakfast and a special college and career day for San Diego County’s Foster Youth.

A sold-out crowd listened to the inspiring stories of the five students who received scholarships this year. They spoke of their academic and economic struggles and how the $1,000 scholarships would allow them to stay in school and pursue their dreams. These five students were reflected in the struggle and ultimate success of our keynote speaker—Dr. Olivia Graeve.

Dr. Graeve, who is now an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UCSD, blazed the trail for the four siblings who followed her to Southwestern College. She spoke of social justice, the impact of the faculty and staff at Southwestern College who aided her journey and the importance of seeking out students who had her same goals.

Student Scholarship winners
Scholarship Winners pose with breakfast organizers.

Later that morning, we welcomed 100 foster youth and their advocates for a half-day session on college and careers. This student population is among the most at-risk, and we have knitted together our student support services with those San Diego County resources.

These Guardian Scholars participated in workshops on how to apply for college and financial aid. They explored the different academic programs we offer, and they learned about the college leadership opportunities awaiting them here.

We received many positive comments, and those in attendance felt welcomed and supported. Thank you to the committee with members from all across the college—Counseling, EOPS, CalWORKS, Child Development Center, Communications and Government Relations, Financial Aid, Food Services, Outreach and the Transfer Center. I look forward to our next event. 

Counselor Kimi Rodriguez-McSwain address students
Counselor Kimi Rodriguez-McSwain welcomes Guardian Scholars

Strategic Plan Kick-Off
We are beginning the next cycle of our Strategic Plan, and we’re hoping you will participate.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness is hosting a community kick off on Monday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. We have invited representatives from each of our college constituency groups, as well as members of our feeder school districts, city government and community organizations.

We will also host two college-wide town hall forums—Thursday, April 30 from 6-8 p.m. and Thursday, May 14 from 2-4 p.m. Be on the lookout for the global emails announcing the town hall forums.

Recognizing the Employee of the Quarter
Recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for April through June is Maria Beltran, the Education Center Coordinator for the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa. As cited in her nomination, Maria exhibits an overall superior work ethic and she has an exceptional spirit of service.
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.

Students, faculty and staff are comfortable seeking support from Maria because of her patience and willingness to provide her best assistance/advice.

The next time you are visiting Otay Mesa, be sure to congratulate Maria for a job well done.

Maria Beltran accepts EOQ award
Maria Beltran, Education Center Coordinator at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa, accepts her award as Employee of the Quarter.



March 26, 2015

Living the Theme of Opening Day

Dr. Jeff Duncan-AndradeMany employees have expressed how inspired they were by our Spring Opening Day speaker, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade. For those of you who have participated in a number of follow-up Staff Development activities since January, you have seen that passion put into practice.

Whether you attended one of the films in the ongoing documentary series, or listened to our own experts in multiculturalism through Staff Development’s “Turning Points Series” or heard the stories of modern poets MK Asante and Pedro Enriquez, our college community has been keeping the spirit of inclusivity alive.

These activities have joined our longstanding traditions of African-American History Month and our Cesar Chavez Breakfast.

Staff Development ProgramThank you to Janelle Williams, Patricia Hinck and Andre Ortiz for building such a strong program of staff development this semester, including customer service training for all divisions, schools and departments. Thank you to the host of presenters in the Staff Development series and special events in February and March. The trainings and celebrations reflect the discussion by Shared Consultation Council members to embrace our Opening Day theme of “We Cultivate Inclusion,” and support our commitment to a Students’ First culture.

Campus Climate Survey

If you haven’t had the chance to complete the Campus Climate Survey, I encourage you to do so before the end of the day tomorrow.

This is the second year of the Ruffalo Noel Levitz survey. The average completion time is 15 to 20 minutes, shorter than our previous surveys.

Responses are reported in aggregate form only and are completely anonymous. I, and our Governing Board, take the results of the survey seriously and use them for continuous improvement throughout the college.

Click here to link directly to the survey.

Arts & Comm gala
Celebrating the Arts: Governing Board President Norma L. Hernandez accepts a proclamation from Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas and Deputy Mayor Pamela Bensoussan at the Fall in Love with the Arts gala last month. Gala Emcee Eric Maag looks on.

I wish you a restful spring break and look forward to the upcoming activities celebrating our students as we head toward commencement.


 March 9, 2015

Open Hours This Friday

We’re almost halfway through the semester, and I’d like to hear how things are going.

I am hosting Open Hours on Friday from 8:30 – 10 a.m. The office hours are your opportunity to meet one-on-one with me. You can sign up for 15-minute appointments on the website at: www.swccd.edu/openhours

I look forward to hearing your ideas for continuous improvement of our great college.

Governing Board Meeting and Listening Tour This Wednesday

This month’s Governing Board meeting will be held at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa. Before the meeting begins, you are invited to join Trustees Norma Hernandez and Tim Nader as they tour the EMT/Paramedic and Fire Sciences program. The tour and information session will begin in HECOM Room 4409 at 4:30 p.m.

The Governing Board meeting is expected to begin at 7 p.m.

Each One, Reach One

Our response from faculty and staff to mentor first-year students has been overwhelming—even without a big advertising effort. As of last week, we have had 38 Southwestern College employees volunteer to be mentors. Thank you for your enthusiasm to make a difference in a student’s academic career.

Now we need students to mentor. We’ll be working over the next couple weeks to reach out to students to participate. Our goal is to have 100 students to pilot the program this semester. We’d like a combination of students, including the First-Year Experience students in the Puertas al Futuro program, veterans, foster youth and students on academic probation.

The mentor program will include getting to know the students’ goals better and connecting them with the many support services and resources we have available. The program will also include fun, social activities.

If you know a student who you think would benefit from this program, please contact VPAA Kathy Tyner or Dr. Chris Hayashi. Or if you would like to mentor a student, you can apply at www.swccd.edu/reach To get an idea of the program, go to www.swccd.edu/fye on the website.



Feb. 24, 2015

Cross-Border Education Opportunities Coming to Fruition

Increasing the opportunities for students on both sides of the border to study abroad has been one of my long-term goals. I’m pleased to report that those opportunities are becoming a reality.

Last week, the Governing Board voted unanimously to approve Memoranda of Understanding with Centro de Enseñanza Técnica Y Superior Universidad, México (CETYS) and Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, México (UTT) to create and expand cross-border programs. Under the agreements, students from Southwestern College and the two Tijuana universities can attend classes at both colleges without a delay in their studies. Additionally, students from the two Tijuana universities could attend Southwestern College at the district resident price of $46 per unit.

The agreements are the result of a year of increased discussion among Southwestern College leaders and our colleagues at CETYS and UTT. We have visited both campuses and are excited about the potential to articulate some of our career technical, logistics, business and engineering courses to allow a seamless transition among the three institutions. Thanks to Dr. Carla Kirkwood, our efforts have been focused and fruitful.

The timing of the Governing Board’s approval was perfect as I was able to announce the agreements at the University Presidents’ Summit hosted by the Consuls General from Mexico and the United States last week. The purpose of the summit held Thursday was to address the barriers for students to access higher education on each side of the border and to launch the CaliBaja Consortium for Higher Education.

Under the context of meeting the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, Andrew S. E. Erickson, and the Mexican Consul General in San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau, have a goal to make the California/Baja California region a leader in cross-border education by the year 2020. The discussion at the Summit focused on key areas: language acquisition; learning for regional competitiveness; women and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and funding. 

In facilitating the language acquisition small group discussion, I was able to share our program in child development that helps students become fluent in English in four semesters. I explained that this model could be used for other academic content areas.

The day-long summit gave all of us an opportunity to deepen our discussions with our colleagues on both sides of the border. I look forward to the work ahead.

L-R: U.S. Consul General in Tijuana Andrew Erickson, Mexican Consul General in San Diego Remedios Gomez Arnau, CETYS Rector Dr. Fernando León Garcia, UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla, UABC R
L-R: U.S. Consul General in Tijuana Andrew Erickson, Mexican Consul General in San Diego Remedios Gomez Arnau, CETYS Rector Dr. Fernando León Garcia, UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla, UABC Rector Dr. Juan Manuel Ocegueda, myself, National University President Dr. Michael R. Cunningham and Mexican Foreign Ministry Proyecta 100,000 Coordinator Dr. Martha Navarro.



February 18, 2015

Lobbying for Southwestern College Students at the Federal Level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



February 3, 2015

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

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

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

Each One, Reach One

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

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

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

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

Handy Student Resource Guides

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

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

Fall in Love with the Arts

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

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

Faculty Hiring Priority memo

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

We will be hiring faculty in the following areas:

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

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

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


January 10, 2015

Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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

2015 MLK Parade


Welcoming Students for Spring Semester

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

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

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

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

Wells Fargo Supporting SBDC

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

SBDC Wells Fargo Grant

Last updated: 2/2/2016 12:42:14 PM