Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone head reflects on changes: President discusses growth in enrollment, green campus in final opening address

By Todd R. Brown, Staff writer.

Saturday, August 25, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Doug Treadway has seen big changes at Ohlone College in his four years as president, from roller-coaster enrollment after the dot-com bust to the dawning of the ultra-green Newark campus, which opens in January.

Before the beginning of his final year at the helm, Treadway reflected on these and other matters during his annual state of the college address early Friday in the Smith Center theater.

Afterward, the Livermore resident discussed the challenges and innovations he has seen at one of the most diverse junior colleges in the nation, where classes begin Monday. He plans to retire in June.

After the dot-com implosion in the early 2000s, Treadway said students bailed on information technology and computer classes, forcing Ohlone to invest in other programs to maintain enrollment, including biotechnology.

Ironically, he said, "e-learning" is now a big part of the college's offerings, with 145 online courses per semester available to students through their home computers.

"It doesn't seem like we can create enough of those," he said. "They keep filling up as fast as we come up with them."

Physical changes abound as well, with a new student services building in the works and plans to develop the frontage property along Mission Boulevard into retail stores and possibly housing.

Then there is the nascent Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology, which will serve 3,000 students in nursing and other fields who will bring their own laptops in lieu of classroom desktop computers. "It's great to see that campus come to reality," Treadway said.

About half those students are now taking classes temporarily at Newark Memorial High School and at the University of Phoenix campus in Newark.

Treadway said the governor has been invited to the campus unveiling in late January and that he expects national media attention for what will be the greenest junior college in the country. It will offer a degree program in environmental studies by spring.

A less tangible change has been a shift in teaching methods away from what Treadway called "standing up and lecturing to a group of people sitting in fixed seats dutifully taking notes," and toward active or collaborative learning.

That means everything from students creating their own class content on the Web to thematic "learning communities" that combine several subjects in one, such as melding psychology, writing and science to explore cultural diversity or climate change.

"People are making connections between subjects," Treadway said. "Students really seem to like them, plus they get to know a group of 30 or 40 students better."

In his speech to about 350 people, mostly staff and faculty, Treadway discussed cultural diversity at Ohlone, and the recent return of the study abroad program to Australia and student exchanges with China.

Plans are to offer classes in India and Mexico as well, he said.

He said enrollment among minorities is up, including a 36 percent increase in African-American students, a 25 percent increase in Hispanic students and a 16 percent increase in Filipinos from 2004 to 2006.

Overall, he said higher enrollment allowed the college to claim 2 percent growth funding from the state last year. About 19,000 students attend each year.

Ohlone Trustee John Weed, who attended the speech, said the college is growing so quickly that he wonders "whether we actually have surplus property on the campus or not (to develop)," an idea that came from declines in enrollment as recently as 2004.

"People are driving past other districts to get to Ohlone," he said. "We're bursting at the seams."

The community is integrating more with the college, as well. Treadway said a pilot program last year brought 28 high school seniors from Newark to study on the Fremont campus. Kennedy High School in Fremont is following suit this year, and Logan High School in Union City will do the same in 2008.

Don Amsbaugh, a longtime member of the Ohlone College Foundation board, attended the speech and said he was "proud as hell of the college" but surprised to learn that Treadway will be retiring.

"I was so honored to be on the team to search for him. That breaks my heart," Amsbaugh said. "Wait till I get a hold of him."

He compared college presidents with football coaches, joking, "They last about five years and move on."

Treadway said he isn't sure what he will do after leaving Ohlone but that he has plenty to keep busy with for now.

"It's very exciting," he said. "(This speech is) the best one I've been able to give in the four years I've been here."

Staff writer Todd R. Brown covers Newark, Ohlone College and ethnic communities. Reach him at 510-353-7004 or tbrown@angnewspapers,com.

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