College Forums - Ohlone College President's Office

Notes for November 5 & 6, 2003 College Forums

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  • Updates on developments since the State of the College Address
  • Specific review of a number of items cited in the Address


While we await the swearing in of a new Governor, something I was not prepared to even consider in August, there is little to report on the state budget condition other than no one believes it is going to get better soon.

We were able to bring back the counselors who were laid of from the EOPS and DSPS programs.

Between closures of the academic programs, resignations and retirements, we now have 13 vacant faculty positions which we will be required to fill in the next academic year 2004-05. The savings from the vacancies were a major factor in getting a balanced budget for 2003-04 and the reinvestment, while necessary and required, will be a definite challenge to us unless there is some positive news in January. In the mean time Jim Wright is working with the deans and faculty to prepare announcements for recruiting.

In that regard, it was earlier agreed that four new positions would replace the four positions eliminated due to layoffs. The new faculty positions will be in biotechnology, psychology, mental health counselor and commercial music.

Another budget impact concern is the status of faculty sabbaticals for next year. The administration will be proposing a sabbatical program with financial limitations, but one nevertheless which should get the momentum going once again in this important investment in academic staff development.


The State of the College Address was given in mid-August, at which time our enrollment was running somewhat ahead of last year. Subsequently, the student registrations declined and the current estimate for the semester is about a 6% drop in head count due to a 9% reduction in sections offered. We are running at about the state average in both counts, according to a press release from the Chancellor's office today.

The Newark Center was most hard hit with enrollments dropping by 60% as we scaled back the rented facility and moved several programs to Fremont.

Spring semester and summer course offerings will be adjusted in order to meet our minimum enrollment ceilings so that we stay within the state budget formula for next year.

It has been interesting to note that application numbers soared in late summer and early fall, giving rise in part to our expectation of growth. What the staff believe has happened is that with electronic processing of applications state-wide, students can submit just one application and have it sent to as many community colleges as they wish. In the Bay Area students have a number of campuses within commuting distance and we all saw many more applications this year as a result. Students are also enrolling in more than one college at a time at a greater number than was the case previously.

Campus Morale and Productivity

Faced with shortages of faculty and staff, nevertheless our college family is weathering the storm of budget cuts and uncertainty of enrollments. Many people are going the second and third mile to be sure students are served. And there is a keen interest in participation of all staff in the shared governance of the college.

Last Friday the newly formed College Council held their organizational meeting. The members of the council are selected by their respective groups and include:

  • Faculty:
    • Tom Holcomb
    • Dennis Keller
    • Elizabeth Silva
    • Barbara Tull
    • Maria Ramirez
    • Martha Brown
  • Staff:
    • Linda Evers
    • Keith Clark
    • Patrick Lane
  • Students :
    • Clifton Der Bing
    • Huy Do
    • Melissa Milner
  • Administration:
    • Douglas Burns
    • Connie Teshara
    • Debbie Tucker

The College Council has decided to meet the first and third Friday for the remainder of this semester at 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in room 1216. All meetings are open to everyone and public comment will be invited at every meeting. The agendas will be posted on the College Council web site 3 days prior to each meeting. Dennis Keller has been elected by the Council to co-chair the group with me. Requests for items to be placed on the agenda can be presented to either of us as well as brought before the Council directly at the public comment section of our meetings. The agenda for the next meeting will include a proposed administrative regulation on a Tobacco Free campus environment and a briefing on the Newark Center facilities plans.

You may recall that I made reference to the Tobacco Free campus in my State of the College Address. I have received many positive comments from you on this matter and of course some criticism and concern. I was pleased to receive a formal proposal to that effect from the students and staff. They will present the proposal at the College Council meeting and I will receive a recommendation from the Council before making my decision on the new regulations which could go into effect starting in January.

Another area of my Speech which has elicited much comment is the issue I raised about the need for a college identity in general and specifically the Ohlone legacy. I am hearing good general support for focusing the Fremont campus mission on university transfer and the Newark campus mission on selected occupational programs. I have heard suggestions that perhaps we should name the campus East and West college to overcome the issues associated with competing city governments. I am not ready to recommend this, however, without more study. I do believe that the reasoning is very sound to plan for one college with the two physical campuses augmented by the cyber campus. That too is drawing favorable review both within and without our college community.

The area of most comment and interest stemming from the speech is sustainability, energy conservation and responsible environmental stewardship. People are getting active in seeking out special grants and partnerships in this area. Faculty are considering new degree programs and learning communities with these themes. We will be recommending to the College Council and the Board of Trustees a formal policy in support of sustainable buildings and energy conservation at the December meeting.

A very tangible expression of sustainability as related to campus identity is coming forward in planning for the Newark Campus. Located less than one mile from the Bay, college officials have been approached to adopt projects which would assist in the reclamation and restoration of the Bay Estuary. The Coastal Estuary Theme is a compelling one for the landscape, buildings, curriculum and community service s offered at the Newark Campus. It is also going to be feasible to build in our own energy generating facility using solar and geothermal systems to greatly reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels for the new campus. We are actively planning to acquire new technology and partnerships in this regard. It is possible that we could be creating the first ever community college which is completely self-reliant for energy.

Which leads me to report the progress being made on Bond Measure A projects.

A Facilities Task Force for the college has been meeting with myself, other staff and the college's architectural firm. The members of the task force are:

  • Ron Quinta
  • Ron Travenick
  • Simon Burrows
  • Paul Moore
  • Paula Schoenecker
  • Yvette Niccolls
  • George Rodgers
  • Steve Moreci
  • John Li
  • Keith Clark
  • Alec Lee
  • Nicholas Foreman

Starting with the Newark Campus, the Board has struggled with two issues:

  1. whether or not to reserve the frontage property for future private business ventures from which the District could derive revenue and
  2. whether or not in conjunction with leaving room up front as well as building now the utilities connections for future expansion to the back of the property, a 300 foot entrance road should be constructed and all buildings moved back to between 400 and 500 feet of the entrance.

Most people favor placing the college's own facilities in the front part of the property and any partnerships in the future to the rear. They also favor integrating the joint library with the City of Newark into the college facilities, again at the front of the property. There are different opinions about building sewer and other utilities connections now for future and unknown developments. It is definitely the least expensive way to go, but should the bond measure A be used for this purpose is a question. The college needed about 40 acres for the Newark project. When we were able to acquire over 80 acres, these dilemmas started to present themselves.

The shared governance process in the next few weeks will also grapple with the issues and recommendations will be sought from the Facilities Task Force as well as the College Council. My own position is decidedly in favor of the college being prominent, easily accessible and visible at the front of the property. I also support the City of Newark Joint Library as a facility totally integrated within the campus as well as a proposed health clinic to be provided by Washington Hospital.

In my newsletter to be posted later today, there is a calendar of the different meetings which will be held to move us forward to completing our master plan this semester. Our goal is to get final Board approval in mid-December and then to start building design in January.

The single most important planning issue for the Bond Measure is the need for an integrated planning approach which details programs, budgets, enrollments and interactive effects of the projects at both the Newark and Fremont sites.

I am pleased to report that the Board authorized a contract for the updating and revision of the master site plan for the Fremont campus. This activity is now underway. By the end of the semester we will know what programs are staying at Fremont and what programs are going to Newark. We will know what programs at Fremont will have their classrooms and labs upgraded. We will know what new programs are planned for the future at both campuses. We will have solid numbers on planned occupancy levels when the new facilities open and for future utilization. There will be accompanying business plans so that we know how we will be budgeting the staff and facility support for the new buildings. And we will know what proposed private development ventures are feasible and acceptable at both campuses so that we can move forward where appropriate to develop some outside funding resources for our District.

There is no question that circumstances have changed dramatically since the bond measure was planned and then voted on. The Newark campus has moved from a booming and fast growing enterprise to a minimally staffed outreach center. It will take a great amount of effort and resource to get it back on track in time to staff the new campus in 2007. Even then, we will doubtless not be able to utilize all of the newly constructed buildings and so we will actively seek out some renters. We may also build part of the facility as a shell and complete it later when the enrollment growth requires it. Because there are literally hundreds of thousands of square feet of new and vacant light industry space around the Newark site, we are actively investigating a partnership with one or more firms who would let us use their facility the next three years to build up our technical programs. Such staging areas would be very useful in gearing up for opening the new campus.

In my state of the College Address I set forth five principles to guide us this year:

  1. Creating and celebrating our identity—While still not formalized, building an identity for Fremont as a premiere transfer college and Newark likewise as a premier occupational campus in health and environment technologies, seems to be getting good support. Overall the Ohlone namesake can further define our cultural heritage and campus mission. Last month I was elected as treasurer of the California Community College's International Education Council. Ohlone College has become the fiscal agent for the organization. This is one avenue for our mission.
  2. Emphasizing quality over quantity—With an enrollment decline this was good timing as a principle. Seriously, I have heard many good comments on this and some concerns. Of the many things I could say about this, the main things I want to emphasize is that as I have said, we are already one of the highest quality colleges in our system; our margin of excellence in the quality of our personnel; the next margin is going to be our ability to attract outside funding to supplement inadequate state dollars. A specific example of the principle is being applied at the Newark Campus where I am proposing scaling back the proposed square footage so that the architects can design a better quality, longer lasting and more attractive sustainable learning environment.
  3. Leveraging the bond measure to bring other resources resulted in the partnerships formalized with the City of Newark and Washington Hospital. Even if Newark withdraws from the library project, there will undoubtedly be other joint ventures with them and other partners. We are actively engaged with the UC and CSU systems as well as local high schools exploring joint facility use plans and opportunities.
  4. I am also confident in our ability to attract partnerships and extra funding for our new energy generation facilities and our correlate mission in enhancing sustainable communities, which was the fourth principle I set forth.
  5. And finally, the principle of working better together through shared governance, is manifesting itself in the new College Council, a new structure for strategic planning, and the facilities task force, to name the most prominent of our collective efforts.

The first half of this fall semester has been largely occupied with a thorough review of all of our planning and decision making processes. While the task has been arduous and not without controversy, I strongly believe that we are emerging as a better prepared, better informed, and more effectively coordinated organization.

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