Ohlone College President's Office
State of the College Fall 2009
August 28, 2009 / Dr. Gari Browning
- View the State of the College Fall 2009 (WMV) (video is ASL interpreted; it is not captioned)
- Download State of the College Fall 2009 (PDF)
Text of the speech follows.
I hope everyone has had an opportunity to take advantage of the great Flex activities and workshops organized by Deb Parziale this week! Let’s give Deb a round of applause to thank her for all her hard work. I’d also like to recognize Deb as Faculty of the Month, an honor bestowed upon her by her colleagues through the Faculty Senate. Congratulations, Deb!
Now I’d like to take a minute to introduce a few people in attendance this morning. Would members of the Ohlone College Foundation Board please stand. Thank you for the work you do. It’s important to us and to our students.
Our board of trustees chairman, Mr. John Weed, please stand. Thank you for coming. Trustee Garrett Yee.
Let me start off today with some really great news! I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Ohlone is officially off warning and that our accreditation has been reaffirmed. This was a huge effort on the part of the whole college. All through last year, really starting immediately after the accreditation team’s visit in spring of 2008, we worked to address accreditation recommendations. On the heels of preparing a self study, we prepared another report in the fall and hosted another Commission visit. Again in the spring we wrote yet another response to recommendations and were visited one more time. In June I attended the Commission meeting to recount all of our progress, and in July we received the word we were awaiting—Off Warning. Congratulations!
What you may not have heard is that Ohlone was the only college to move from Warning to No-report-or-follow-up-required status. The Commission was clearly impressed with the work we did. In fact, Commission President Dr. Beno called me personally to tell me so. In 2011, Ohlone will have to complete and submit our regular midterm report, but that’s it! Great job!
We have some other things to celebrate as we begin this year.
Our new, beautiful Student Services Center is up and running and on track for LEED Gold certification. If you haven’t seen the inside of the building yet, take a tour. You’ll love it!
Our Newark campus continues to win awards like the Green Building of America Award and feature in the Northwest Real Estate & Construction Review-Green Success Stories Edition. Classes at Newark are 90% full, 2.2% fuller than last fall but with fewer classes.
Soon we will have a permanent chief human resources officer. The candidate is Shairon Zingsheim.
We have begun researching the possibility of another bond. We have recently completed a survey to determine the viability of a bond that would modernize the Fremont campus.
And community colleges have received some recognition at the national level.
Dr. Martha Kanter, former Foothill/De Anza Chancellor and long-time California Community College leader (slide) has been appointed by President Obama to serve as the Undersecretary of Education, the top government position for higher education. I have personally known Martha to work hard on many issues, as she led the inception of Matriculation, equalization of funding among community college districts, and efforts for a long-term funding and fee policy for community colleges.
Over the summer, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spoke to the Democratic Leadership Council about education reform and the need to overhaul our nation's job training and retraining system--and he said that the focus will be on community colleges. In his remarks, Emanuel described shifting the focus of federal higher education policy to community colleges, something that President Obama did when he selected Dr. Kanter, the first community college leader to serve as Undersecretary. This will be a historic time for community colleges!
I have certainly enjoyed my first year at Ohlone. People have been positive and incredibly supportive. And we have worked well together to solve problems. I’m looking forward to another enjoyable year, even though it will include more problem solving with you as we face some serious challenges.
Last year I told you about my approach to getting things done. I said that I tend to collect data and information about issues and needs at the start. And I like to know what people think. I also want to know where Ohlone is going and to identify basic principles about how we will do our work. Finally, I like to know how well we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.
We have been successful in what we’ve attempted so far. Our Board of Trustees worked through accreditation issues and anyone who has attended or viewed a recent board meeting can testify to the difference. We welcomed two excellent new trustees to our board, and they are already making positive contributions. We also made important improvements to our planning process and now have a renewed strategic plan that will carry us through 2015. The structures that we put in place last year will serve us well this year and in future years. I feel hopeful, looking forward to the challenges and accomplishments that are sure to come.
Now I’m going to talk about the challenge that’s on everyone’s mind-- the budget.
Most of the news from Sacramento these past months has been downright depressing. As you know, even with a successful advocacy effort this spring, community colleges, like virtually all state-supported services, face devastating cuts. I wish I could tell you that things were going to get better soon. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's going to be a long haul.
Our California Community College Chancellor, Jack Scott, who is a former community college president and state legislator, describes our situation like this:
California's fiscal crisis is rooted first and foremost in the worldwide economic collapse. While the world and U.S. economies have shown some signs of turnaround in recent months, all indications are that the recovery will be slow and take an extended period of time. Further, the California economy, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, appears to be on an even slower course to recovery than the rest of the nation. Until the economy regains its strength, the California state budget will continue its struggles. These tough times will not last forever, however. When we look back, the test of our worth will be how well we managed to meet the critical educational needs of our students during challenging fiscal times.
Here’s how the budget cuts look for Ohlone. Of our originally anticipated $42.9 million dollars in State revenue, Ohlone will receive about $3 million dollars less with a good possibility of an additional cut mid year because of short falls in property and personal income taxes. The most severe cuts to Ohlone, about $1.5 million dollars, are in the area of categorical funding which supports services to students, including EOPS, Disabled Student Programs and Services, and Matriculation, which supports general enrollment and counseling services for all students. There is a chance that some of this reduction will be made up by the federal stimulus money but for one year only.
Despite our best guesses, our share of state money looks nothing like we thought it would when I spoke to you back in January. In order to be ready for any eventuality, we prepared scenario after scenario, supported by the following basic principles:
- First, we must ensure Ohlone's fiscal stability over the next few years.
- To the greatest extent possible, we want to protect programs and services that directly impact students and to minimize reductions in our staff.
- We want budget decisions that will be transparent and collegial.
Ohlone is in pretty good shape when compared to other colleges. We have been careful and prudent with our funds for some time. As a result we have more savings to allow us to plan for longer term reductions than most colleges do. It is likely we can offer a retirement package that will reduce pressure from the cuts. Most colleges cannot make such an offer because it would end up costing money rather than saving, thus making the fiscal situation worse, or because they are too close to their required minimum number of full-time faculty.
For the last year and a half Ohlone has been taking steps to mitigate the impact of cuts. Here’s what we’ve been doing:
We’ve had a hiring freeze, or frost, in place for all vacancies. That means I review every vacancy to see if we can avoid hiring. In 2008-09 $1.6 million dollars in savings from the freeze helped us balance our budget.
We are taking into account the anticipated mid-year cut to this year’s funding.
We are working to increase non-state revenue to the District (for example, increasing the number of international students, enhancing facility rentals, and increasing revenue from fee-based courses, athletic camps, and the English Language Institute).
We are carefully using our reserves and other one-time funds where needed. I call these “savings” because they represent money the college has set aside for specific purposes such as supporting Program and Services Review projects for improvement. We won’t be able to use this money again next year. Once we spend this savings, it’s gone. Like any savings, it will take us some time to save it again.
We are implementing plans for permanent budget reductions and revenue increases:
We have been reducing class offerings and enrollment. We reduced summer by about 22% and fall by another 9%; we are now cutting the spring schedule. We are reducing classes because the State Chancellor has told us we can’t serve as many students. This is new; colleges are typically asked to serve more students with less money. Again we have less money, but we are being asked to do less—to be a smaller college. Eventually the opportunity to increase enrollment will be offered again, and we will have more revenue as a result.
Pending final approval by the Board, we are anticipating offering to all eligible employees the Supplementary Employee Retirement Package or SERP I mentioned. This plan provides an incentive of 75% of one year’s salary to those choosing to retire or, for classified employees, to retire or resign. We must analyze the resulting cost savings to determine if we can do it, but I am quite optimistic. We have set an unofficial “target” of $500 thousand dollars of savings in the first year of the program to make it viable.
With the new student services building coming on line and reduction in class offerings and numbers of students we serve, we are planning to reduce building use where we can, thus reducing energy costs.
We are establishing plans for categorical programs to address budget reductions imposed by the State while still serving our students.
Finally, we are doing everything possible to mitigate the need to reduce staff and maintain college operations.
My experience has shown me that budget cuts cycle with the State economy and are temporary. You may know that when the budget is tight and unemployment is high, demand for community college classes is also high. At Ohlone, the spring 2009 FTES was 11.6% higher than spring 2008.
In my time working in California Community Colleges, I have experienced three State fiscal downturns that were followed by cuts to colleges. This is the fourth. In each there was some pain and panic, but each time funding came back along with opportunities to serve students better. I learned some things to do and not to do from each of these experiences, but mostly I learned not to panic. So there are two parts to the story, the downturn and the upturn. This time will be the same; our workload will come back, our cap will go back up, we will scramble to open more sections and generate more FTES. We must set our sites beyond budget reductions and be ready for the upturn.
The Value of CCCs
The other experience I have to share with you is personal and expresses why I think so highly of our community college system. Community college has really shaped my life. I was a community college student, faculty member, researcher, parent of students, dean, vice president, and now president. I’m completely committed to the California Community College mission and values, particularly our focus on students, teaching, learning, and access.
Education is powerful; it changes people. Education enhances careers, the way children are raised, the way free time is enjoyed, the way friends interact, and the way people see themselves—their qualify of life. Education impacts society as a whole. It offers a well-prepared workforce, reduces crime, and informs the electorate. It’s true that education is the cornerstone of a democratic society. The California Community Colleges have the greatest impact on individuals and society because our open access philosophy makes higher education available to everyone. I admit I’m not so passionate about the way we are funded, but that in no way overshadows my unwavering commitment to what we do. Through this economic blip, we need to focus steadfastly on educating our students in the best way possible.
I’d like to remind you that our accreditation team report praised highly our educational programs and services. They had no recommendations for improvement. That’s unheard of! Remember that we exist to educate our students and we do it superbly.
I know this is a difficult time for everyone at Ohlone as we all struggle to find ways to continue serving students in a challenging fiscal environment. But no matter how difficult this current budget crisis is, remember that Ohlone has a history of working together. My message to you last year at this time was that Ohlone was about the people. Throughout my first year with you, my understanding of Ohlone has grown. This is an excellent institution with lots of plusses, especially the people who work here, and lots to have hope about. We need to let that hope fill our thoughts and shape our attitudes. Now would be the worst time to work against each other. We will get through these difficult times if we pull together; I’m looking forward to the challenge. The upturn will come.
Assessment of Progress on 2005-10 Goals
This year, in addition to addressing our fiscal issues, we will continue with our plans. This is the final year for our current strategic plan. Because we need to begin progress on a new set of goals in 2010-11, we spent last year creating a new strategic plan for 2010-15. In order to determine which of our current goals to continue, which are complete, and which need refining, we performed a comprehensive assessment of the 2005-10 plan. This coming spring we will create a final written report of our accomplishments, but I would like to tell you our recent progress for each goal.
One of our goals is to promote appreciation for and understanding of diverse races and cultures. Our successes for this goal continue to mount.
International Student Enrollment and Outreach
International student enrollment at Ohlone College is growing, as it has since 2007. An anticipated 270 F-1 Visa students from more than 30 countries will be studying at Ohlone this fall. This represents the largest international student enrollment in Ohlone’s history and is a source of cultural and ethnic diversity which enriches our campus community tremendously. In addition, the Out-of-State tuition their enrollment generates serves as a helpful source of revenue in this trying budgetary time.
Over the last year Ohlone College has built upon existing international partnerships and worked to create new ones. Last winter Ohlone welcomed a delegation of officials from our Sister College Zhejiang Vocational Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, China, for fee-based educational seminars and training. In spring, a delegation of Ohlone officials, of which I was a part, visited partner institutions in Hangzhou and Suzhou and forged a new relationship with an innovative secondary school in Beijing at which English is a primary language of instruction.
New institutional partnerships in Korea, India, and Vietnam are in development. Further, the College has teamed up with the U.S. Department of State and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, on the “Community College Initiative–Egypt” project. This fall 16 full scholarship students from Egypt, 8 of whom are deaf, have joined Ohlone College courtesy of this initiative, and I understand that these ambitious students are in the audience today. Would you please stand.
In just over a week Mark Brosamer (from English) and a group of Ohlone College students will depart on Ohlone’s 3rd-ever semester abroad in Sydney, Australia. The running of this fall’s trip marks the continuation of Ohlone’s 19-year history offering study abroad opportunities to our students.
We are also preparing to apply for funding of future study abroad opportunities for Ohlone students and faculty, courtesy of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Act, which is currently working its way through Congress. (Eddie West will provide more details about this legislation later this morning.)
This past year Ohlone continued its tradition of engaging in international faculty exchange by sending faculty in music and English as a Second Language to teach at our partner schools in China. Plans are in the works for overseas teaching opportunities in China, Vietnam, Egypt, and India this year.
The College recently diversified its outreach efforts to the local community by taking part in the 17th Festival of India, held here in Fremont. Building on the success of this well-attended event, 3 weeks from now the Smith Center will host the Rhythm of Rajasthan, a vibrant group of folk musicians and dancers from one of India’s most historically and politically important states.
The World Forum series, begun in spring 2005, has perpetuated an expanding global perspective for our students and staff, allowing a greater understanding of our world and our region, where so much diversity exists. In the past year, World Forum topics included “Education in Afghanistan: Current Challenges and Future Opportunities” presented by our friend and colleague Dr. Mohammad (Mo) Qayoumi, President of CSU East Bay. This spring we heard a fascinating and timely economic forecast titled “Navigating Uncharted Waters: The Global Economic Crisis,” presented by Mr. Kausik Rajgopal, who is a partner in McKinsey & Company's San Francisco office. This lecture series has become a valuable institution at the college that I heartily endorse and enjoy. Stay tuned for news on the next one.
Recognition of Diversity
A new feature of our Board meetings is proclamations in recognition of diversity celebrations such as Black History Month, Caesar Chavez Day, and Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The Board has received a warm response from faculty, staff, and students to this important gesture.
Goal II addresses developing into a Learning College and improving student success.
Ohlone College’s identity has developed into a learning college, a fact recognized in the report issued by our visiting accreditation team. A learning college:
- Creates substantive change in individual learners;
- Engages learners as full partners in the learning process;
- Creates and offers as many options for learning as possible;
- Assists learners to form and participate in collaborative learning activities;
- Defines the roles of learning facilitators by the needs of the learners; and
- Succeeds only when improved and expanded learning can be documented for its learners.
Being a Learning College brings with it improvement in student learning and achievement. An important measure of achievement is successful completion of courses, and as you might predict, Ohlone has experienced excellent improvement in course completion. In fall 2008 student success was 67.51%, an increase of 10.6% compared to the previous year.
According to State reports, Ohlone College is above its peer group average in degree and certificate awards and transfer, successful completion of vocational courses, and students who complete Basic Skills courses moving to and successfully completing higher level courses. We still need to improve the rates by which Basic Skills and ESL students complete those courses. And we are.
The Basic Skills Coordination Team has instituted two important improvements. A Course Coordinator for each of the major Basic Skills classes in reading, writing and mathematics has been assigned. The Coordinators will work with full time and adjunct faculty teaching the many sections of these courses to ensure continuity of student learning outcomes, course content and approach, and assessment of learning. This continuity will ensure a more consistent learning experience for students.
The second improvement in the Basic Skills program incorporates a strong partnership between Basic Skills faculty and Counseling faculty. Counseling faculty are assigned to Basic Skills classes to visit and work with students to schedule academic advising appointments leading to more effective educational planning for students.
In ESL, a complete renewal of the curriculum has produced noticeable gains over the past two years in the ESL improvement rate.
We continue to increase online instruction. Fall 2008 online FTES was up by 15% and now represents 10-12% of the total college FTES. Also the use of hybrid approaches, blending online with traditional classroom instruction, is increasing. This coming year we will be converting about half of our previous To-Be-Arranged lab hours to online formats, which will give students more options and faculty more oversight. A first ever E-Campus Retreat was conducted this summer as we plan to focus more attention on the development and support of this growing delivery system.
We also continue to make progress on Student Learning Outcomes. The accrediting commission has created a four-level rubric for evaluating institutional effectiveness. The expectation is that colleges have achieved the second level for SLO development by now, and Ohlone is ahead on this measure.
Goal III is about developing strategies to increase the proportion of full-time students by increasing learning communities and cohort programs, and improving course availability and facilities.
Overall, we are succeeding impressively in this goal, which also includes persistence rates and improved class scheduling. Although there are fewer students on campus than in 2006-07, today’s students are taking more units. The percent of full time students for spring 2009, 30.12%, was the highest full time rate since fall 1995. We are also ahead of our peer institutions for students who have earned at least 30 units.
Ohlone has excellent and long-standing relations with area high schools and Regional Occupational Programs. These efforts have increased opportunities for college education for local students. This year, despite financial challenges facing both colleges and high schools, we have continued our special programs. Although we have eliminated most enrollment of grades K through 9 students and K-12 students enrolled in our Basic Skills classes, we are continuing our College Connection and dual enrollment classes.
The College Connection program is a unique partnership where high school teachers are assigned to the Fremont Campus, each with a cohort of high school seniors. The students complete their high school requirements in the morning and augment their schedules in the afternoon by taking Ohlone classes. Both Newark Memorial and Kennedy High Schools will participate again this year and I believe they are with us this morning. Would the College Connection students please stand.
We are also improving our learning facilities, especially our labs. As directed in the Educational Master Plan, the former respiratory therapy and nursing labs in Building 8, vacated when these programs moved to new labs at the Newark Center, have been remodeled to become new physics and engineering labs. The new labs are a great improvement over the former locations and because they are side by side, there will be more opportunity to promote the interdisciplinary nature of physics and engineering. This will provide a more integrated learning environment for students.
The Human Simulation Lab has been fully implemented over the past year. This state-of-the-art lab is providing realistic training for our nursing and respiratory therapy students in life and death scenarios that they would not otherwise be able to experience. The other health science programs are also exploring the use of this lab in their curricula, which will allow students to be more prepared for the workplace.
Another goal is to provide continuous learning for all personnel associated with the District and promote an organizational structure that is adaptable, collegial, and supportive of the Learning College Model.
Our Fixed Flex activities are a great success. For 2008-09 the average number of flex hours earned by our full time faculty was 45, which is nearly double the 24 hours required. In addition to fixed flex and other faculty training sessions last year, we conducted a successful classified staff development day during spring break. And during the year, administrators received training in conducting evaluations, other personnel topics, and college planning. We also hosted two luncheons for new faculty, extending their orientation to the college and offering a chance for them to get acquainted with each other.
Goal V is to promote the health, environmental, cultural, and economic vitality of the communities served by the District.
Of particular interest to me is attracting students from underrepresented groups. In an effort to recruit Latino high school students, Ohlone conducted its fourth annual Raza Day this year at the Newark Center. Over 200 juniors and seniors attended this event.
We have also interacted with a number of organizations representing Ohlone’s various ethnic and cultural groups. Information gathered from the community last year as part of preparing our new strategic plan emphasized the need for career training and retraining. Certainly we are all aware of the many unemployed individuals in our community—a situation that will be significantly worsened by the closing of NUMMI in March. Ohlone has a One Stop Center that has been very busy this year guiding many of these people to training and employment opportunities. We have also assessed how we might strengthen the connections between our various career programs, community education, and contract education and have made some organizational changes that should enable us to better meet community and business needs.
A goal we have done very well on is to promote and maintain an accessible, clean, safe and healthy college environment through continuous engagement of students and college personnel in campus preparedness, wellness, beautification, universal design, and environmental sustainability.
We had several successes this year. In May Ohlone was awarded officially LEED Platinum Certification for the Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology. I mentioned already that the new Student Services Building is likely to receive a gold level certification.
The goal to increase public and private funds for educational programs, equipment, and facilities through entrepreneurial activities, grants, and the college foundation continues to progress.
Under the leadership of Dave Smith the Ohlone College Foundation has made a big difference.
This past year, the Ohlone College Foundation gave $50,450 in scholarships and awards to deserving Ohlone students. An exciting aspect of the spring scholarship offering was the implementation of new STARS software that enabled students to apply on line for our scholarships. This quadrupled the number of applications received in the past!
The Citizen of the Year event honoring Steve Cho and celebrating our LEED Platinum achievement at the Newark Campus yielded over $31,000.
Our annual Fremont Bank/Ohlone College Golf Tournament last September netted over $41,000 for the Athletics Department. This year’s tournament will be held at Castlewood Country Club on September 21st, and we still have a few playing slots remaining. You can sign up with Foundation.
The Foundation also conducted an innovative Online Auction, which netted about $10,000. Another Online Auction will be held in conjunction with the Golf Tournament.
The Foundation just received a $565,000 grant from the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation which enables us to equip and furnish the Newark Campus to our vision. We are very grateful to them for their support.
We are also successful in the area of grants. Ohlone received four new grants this year totaling $1.3 million dollars. We have two grants in the information and communication technology area totaling $502 thousand dollars; one privately funded grant for $25,000 from MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures to develop mentors for entry level workers into career training in the solar panel industry; and the initiative for Egypt, $782 thousand dollars, which brought the Egyptian students to Ohlone. Currently, Ohlone has almost $5.5 million dollars in active grants, not including the Valley Foundation grant I just mentioned.
Goal VIII addresses the development and implementation of a district-wide facilities plan.
In response to our move to the new Student Services building, we have been working with architects to develop our secondary effects plan. And the forthcoming Facilities Master Plan for the Fremont campus takes into account the Educational plan for the college and the impact of the Newark campus.
In addition to dozens of individual faculty, staff, and student achievements this year, as a college:
We have spent most our Measure A Bond money wisely and well, thanks to our conscientious staff and our Bond Oversight Committee.
The Board of Trustees has begun to update its policies as part of a new four-year revision cycle.
We have instituted a new online payment process and payment plan for students. The results are that students are paying as they enroll, they have an increased tendency to stay enrolled in their classes, and our bad debt has dropped significantly.
Four joint AA-BA degree programs were established with California State University, East Bay, ensuring seamless transfer for students who choose to major in English, Computer Science, Mathematics, or Business.
Our new enrollment planning system is enabling deans to plan our class schedule to reach our enrollment target. This is very important now when revenue generated by student enrollment must be closely monitored.
The Chancellor’s Office has approved our proposals for a new Associate Degree in Biotechnology and related Certificates of Achievement. And a GIS/GPS career pathway was approved.
The Environmental Studies faculty developed a new program to teach solar photovoltaic installation courses to dislocated workers.
Here are a few of the collective achievements of our students:
- The Ohlone College Speech and Debate Team had an excellent competitive season.
- Ohlone athletic teams earned 6 Conference Championships this year, an unprecedented number for a community college district.
- Our student athletes have a 90% transfer rate, most on scholarships. In fact, every one of Ohlone’s sophomore baseball team members earned a scholarship to a 4 year university.
- The Ohlone team took first place at the 41st annual Monterey County Mathletics competition.
- One hundred percent of our fall 2008 nursing graduates passed their national licensing exam.
You’ll agree that it was a year filled with accomplishment of all kinds. Creating our new strategic plan was one of the broadest efforts. As we think about this year and beyond, about the upturn, we want to use the direction our new plan provides. Our new plan is long term; it takes us through 2015. Our goals focus on our purpose--students and learning. Over the past year we developed two aspects of our planning process, the long term process we will use every five years to think strategically, and our annual process that will keep us taking steps in our strategic direction and assure we apply our resources according to our plan.
Our plan adheres to these principles. It is
- Student Centered
- Community Responsive
- Rational and Fair
- Open and Transparent
- Inclusive of All Stakeholders
- Cyclical for Continuous Improvement
In response to accreditation recommendations and because it’s good practice, we revised our planning process and wrote it all down.
We discussed the purpose of planning, which is college improvement, and agreed on terminology. (This seems like a small thing, but it really has given us a collective way to communicate.)
We reviewed progress on our existing goals and objectives and discovered we did not have baselines or initial starting points for many. Others were not stated in such a way that we could decide whether they had been achieved or not. We did our best to analyze progress on them and decide whether we wanted to keep working on them.
We conducted an environmental scan, (Thank you Mike Bowman) which is defined as information about events, trends, and relationships in the local community and beyond, and we used the results as a foundation for our new goals and objectives. We conducted a series of meetings and surveys related to strategic planning with key individuals and groups. These meetings not only increased college visibility in the community, they provided an opportunity for community interaction with us.
We hosted five planning breakfasts especially to create a dialog about the perception of Ohlone and direction for the future. We had breakfast with FUSD Principals, Business Leaders, Education Leaders, the Ohlone Foundation Board, and Elected Officials. A trustee attended each meeting. In addition, the Board had a focused discussion about the future direction of the college. The data, discussions, and surveys underpinning this scan served as an initial assessment of where we were as an institution and where we should go.
Next we created a new set of college goals, some carried over from the last strategic plan and some new. In June the Board approved the strategic plan and goals, and this past Wednesday the College Council approved 46 detailed college objectives.
We made progress in unifying our various plans into one plan. This integration of plans provides coherence to our efforts, making sure we are moving in the same direction with the same assumptions and principles to guide us.
In College Council, our primary shared governance body, we talked about how we could create an information and feedback loop to the whole college, which is vital to a strong planning process. How could we take the information we learned in College Council and share it with everyone? How could we discuss that information and gather college-wide feedback on direction and decisions facing the college? During the year we made some progress through regular budget updates and the budget blog, email messages, our Planning Summit, and our budget forum in late spring. We also asked individual College Council representatives to carry the news and report back to the Council. This week in our College Council retreat we assessed how well we did and generated ideas on how we can do better.
We also developed a way to assess our processes. We now have a committee designated to review how well all of our planning processes are working and to make recommendations for improvements each year.
Finally, we codified our processes. This documentation provides a reference for the college and a way to assure agreement on what we are supposed to do.
New College Goals and Objectives
College Goals are college-wide, big picture directions for the institution. They state what will be achieved but not how. Objectives for each goal make them operational by including measurable or observable outcomes and general timelines. The college has collaboratively identified objectives for each goal that reflect current priorities. In drafting new goals, we associated each with one or more of the following college values.
- We provide life long learning opportunities for students, college personnel, and the community.
- We open access to higher education and actively reach out to underserved populations.
- We promote diversity, inclusiveness, and openness to differing viewpoints.
- We maintain high standards in our constant pursuit of excellence.
- We value trust, respect, and integrity.
- We promote teamwork and open communication.
- We practice innovation and actively encourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship.
- We demonstrate stewardship for our human, financial, physical, and environmental resources.
Let me summarize our new objectives for each of the college goals in our 2010-15 Strategic Plan and comment on changes from the 2005-10 goals.
New GOAL 1: Through innovative programs and services, improve student learning and achievement.
This goal focuses on the learning college concept for our students—the primary emphasis of the college. We will always have a goal like this.
The new version of the goal addresses the assessment of student learning outcomes for all of our courses and programs, which will guide our efforts to improve learning. We will also address student achievement and services to students.
New GOAL 2: Support the economic vitality of the community through educational programs and services that respond to identified employment needs.
This goal will receive greater emphasis than in the last plan because there is a greater need in the community for it than ever. This is demonstrated in our environmental scan and articulated by the state chancellor, who has advised colleges to offer only those courses that are within our core mission--transfer, basic skills, and career technical education. I have made some organizational changes to help us achieve this goal, including pursuing any Federal stimulus money that becomes available.
In this goal Ohlone will address programs specifically targeting employment. We will work closely with local businesses to meet their training needs, including employers in emerging green industries. We will improve opportunities for students to acquire and improve workplace skills.
New GOAL 3: Promote continuous, needs-based, learning and professional development opportunities for all district personnel.
This goal is continued from the previous plan with some adjustments. By strengthening leadership in Human Resources, I hope to make this goal easier to attain.
Ohlone wants to provide professional development for faculty and staff as their needs dictate, but especially in the areas of information technology, customer service, and leadership development.
New GOAL 4: Use human, fiscal, technological, and physical resources responsibly, effectively, and efficiently to maximize student learning and achievement.
In the previous plan there was no stated emphasis on resources, but the college has great concern for how we care for our resources and use them to improve student learning.
Several objectives under this goal address the fiscal health of the district. In light of the urgency to address cuts to our revenue, we will focus on these objectives in the near term. They include the items I mentioned earlier, such as increasing non-apportionment income and decreasing expenditures. They also include increasing faculty and staff understanding of budget issues and priorities. Beyond our immediate fiscal concerns, this goal identifies improvements we intend to make to our classroom technology and our college facilities—especially the Fremont campus, which we hope will be funded by a new bond measure. And it includes the use of the frontage property.
New GOAL 5: Lead and educate the community in environmental sustainability.
This goal was part of a laundry list in another goal in last plan, but the College has determined we want a separate goal that underscores our commitment to sustainability.
Ohlone intends to continue as a leader in sustainability through employing sustainability principles ourselves and by educating the college and the community about the value of sustainability.
New GOAL 6: Enhance college-wide interaction with, and acceptance of, diverse peoples, cultures, arts, and perspectives.
This is a continuation of a former goal and was the result of increased understanding about how it helps us achieve our mission.
Because we are an ethnically diverse institution serving a very diverse community, we wish to maintain and enhance opportunities to learn about other peoples by increasing the number of international students we welcome, by offering to our students and staff opportunities to learn about other cultures, and by increasing opportunities for cultural exchange.
New GOAL 7: Increase access to higher education of under-served and under-represented demographic groups in the District and local communities.
This is a new goal for Ohlone. It has been an objective in the past.
Ohlone intends to increase efforts to enroll under-represented student groups and to improve their educational success. We also intend to increase the number of role models we offer to our students.
New GOAL 8: Engage all members of the college community in active, continual institutional improvement.
Ohlone created College Council fairly recently. Collegiality and evidence-based decisions are emerging as an institutional strength.
This goal speaks to the need to improve our processes and increase campus involvement in planning, collaboration and partnership, the use of data, and broad-based communication.
The objectives I just described in rather global terms are articulated with much more specificity in our Strategic Plan. Over the past year we have created an annual planning process that will help us accomplish the objectives a bit at a time and will help us use our resources to do so.
All academic programs, services for students, and college operations perform a self evaluation or Program and Services Review to assess their performance and determine where improvement is needed. After careful analysis of the review, each determines what specific improvements it should make. These Program Improvement Objectives or PIOs are the product of the Program and Services Review. This year every single program, service, and college operation (all 92) created one PIO to assist in approximating what our future planning and budgeting processes will look like. PIOs specify which of the college goals and objectives will be addressed. PIOs also include actions plans and identify the resources needed to complete those plans. This new focus on what needs to be improved will strengthen the role of Program and Services Review as the foundation for our budget decisions. As part of our process this year, a Resource Analysis Team (better known as RAT) from the business office, purchasing, HR, facilities, IT, and security analyzed the resources associated with every PIO for accuracy, completeness, potential sharing, and the total cost of ownership concept. This type of analysis will be incorporated into our ongoing process.
Another big improvement to annual planning was automating our Program and Services Review in a CurricUNET module designed for that purpose. Many thanks again to Deb Parzialle and the six departments who piloted the module: Math (Bob Bradshaw), Computer Science (Jon Degallier), International Programs Office (Eddie West), Admissions & Records (Chris Williamson), Accounts Payable (Joanne Schultz), and Accounts Receivable (Joanne Shultz). And thanks to Ron Travenick for his support of this project. The module should enable us to simplify the Program and Services Review process sufficiently so that it becomes an annual updating task rather than a major undertaking occurring every four years. Annual information from every program and operation is critical to connecting planning for improvement to our budget, which is set annually.
You’ve learned that we have good processes and plans in place—a strong foundation for the future. I have been asked by a close colleague I respect a great deal how I can expect the college to think about improvement, PIOs, program reviews, and all this planning work when we are facing such difficult fiscal times. My main response is that we must constantly encourage innovation and continue to move forward through the crisis. And we must remain optimistic rather than mired in gloom and doom because optimism and vision will help us get past it.
In a more practical sense, our short term focus--this year and next, will be on attaining fiscal stability. We will make our necessary cuts, but we will continue to pursue projects that save or generate resources, such as a bond. We can take the first steps on new projects as long as they don’t require extra funding. We can also accomplish projects that do not require resources. We can and should continue to improve even over the next year. As resources start to come back, and they will, we want to be ready to implement our plans.
In the weeks and months ahead, I assure you that I will be doing everything possible to look out for the interests of Ohlone College during the state budget crisis, and I will continue to provide you with timely and accurate updates concerning new developments. Remember that the critical role for community colleges is real and will extend beyond our state's current fiscal difficulties. I’ve been here a year—long enough to see what we can accomplish together. I am certain we will get through this.
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