Ohlone College President's Office
State of the College Fall 2010
August 27, 2010 / Dr. Gari Browning
- View the State of the College Fall 2010 (WMV) (video is ASL interpreted; it is not captioned)
- Download State of the College Fall 2010 (PDF)
Text of the speech follows.
Welcome back! I hope you relaxed and enjoyed yourselves a bit over the summer. There’s a lot going on, and we’ll want to be ready for an exciting and busy year!
We have some important members of the Ohlone community with us today. Would members of the Ohlone College Foundation Board please stand. They are led by Chairman Bob Douglass, who is here today. Bob, please wave. Thank you for the work you do. It’s important to us and it really makes a difference to our students. Bob is also chairing our Measure G Bond campaign.
We have Board of Trustees member, Mr. John Weed, here this morning. Thanks for your support, John.
I’d also like to welcome students from the Ohlone College Connection. Would you please stand. Thanks for being here.
I extend a special welcome and thanks to members of the President’s Honor Roll who joined me for breakfast this morning. The Honor Roll is designed to recognize annual contributors of $1000 or more to the College Foundation. The donor’s contribution supports the Foundation project of his or her choice. Thank you for your help!
As you know, we have been sticking to a hiring frost for over three years, and this has helped us stay within our ever-shrinking budget. Also, as you know, we are staffed very thinly in some areas and have needed to hire certain positions just to be able to continue to function. So there are a few new members of the Ohlone family I’d like to introduce. If you see them on campus, please say “hi.” They are :
- Nora Chopelas, Deaf Studies Executive Assistant
- Laura Dillon, Tri-Cities One Stop Career Center Case Manager
- Emily Grantz, Learning Resources Technician
- Daman Grewal, Director of Technical Services
- Bruce Griffin, Associate Vice President, Information Technology
- Helene Ha, Science Lab Technician
- Sheila Holland, Fine Arts, Business, and Communication Division Executive Assistant
- Gillian O’Farrell, Administrative Systems Analyst
- Don Penrose, Director of Application Services
- Maria Rocha, Client Services Specialist
- Jacqlyn Vetter, Schedule Coordinator
Cause for Celebration!
Ohlone has a lot to celebrate from all areas of the campus in addition to the plans we have realized over the past five years. Here are a few highlights.
Through a combination of Measure A bond funds and a significant private donation, we were able to improve and re-purpose classrooms on the Fremont campus this summer. I toured these rooms recently and can tell you that while the changes didn’t cost much money, they will have an enormous impact on the teaching and learning that occurs here. The rooms are brighter, cleaner, and better organized. The improvements are all in alignment with the goals of the Educational Master Plan.
A generous $200,000 donation from the estate of Mrs. Evelyn Henderson, a former employee of the California School for the Deaf, through the East Bay Community Foundation, has moved us further along in our goal to cluster the Deaf Studies Division in Building 6. These funds were used to transform Rooms 6104 and 6105 into a new American Sign Language and deaf studies lab facility. Fifty thousand dollars in District funds previously allocated to the Division also supported this work. The new facility features 40 new Mac computers for students, upgraded network and server resources, and smart room technology. New flexible and environmentally friendly furniture was purchased, and the rooms have been painted and re-carpeted.
To complement this new lab facility, Measure A bond funds were allocated to re-purpose Room 6301, the former Engineering Lab which moved to Building 8 last year. This is now the American Sign Language classroom. All the lab benches were removed, and the room was painted and carpeted. Rooms 1401A and B, the former location of the American Sign Language Lab and classroom, have been re-purposed for general course offerings.
Another Educational Master Plan goal is to cluster science disciplines in Building 8. As mentioned, the Engineering Lab (formerly Room 6301) moved to Building 8 last year, as did the Physics Lab (formerly Room 6107). Using Measure A funds this summer Rooms 8112 and 8113 were improved by painting and upgrading the technology and lighting. These rooms will be used primarily for geography, geology, and anthropology classes. Room 8110 was also painted and will now be used as a lab space for these three departments.
Measure A funds were also used to convert Rooms 6106 and 6107, formerly used by physics, for use primarily by the Accounting Department. Room 6106 will be the Accounting Lab and 6107 will be used for lecture classes. The smart room technology in 6107 also received an upgrade.
Finally, the moves of the Assessment Center, Career Center, and Videoconferencing Room from the fourth floor of Building 1 to the new Student Services Building has allowed Rooms 1403, 1405A and 1407B to become general purpose classrooms; and 1403 and 1405A were upgraded to smart classrooms.
Kudos and great appreciation go to Mr. Gill and the Buildings and Grounds staff, and Daman Grewal and the IT staff for their excellent work on these projects. Connie Teshara also served in an important coordination role. Deans Gertz, Quinta, Birkedahl, and Stacey, and their faculty, were also closely involved in the planning and implementation of these improvements. It was a successful team effort that will benefit our students.
Other successes--ASOC reached a high water mark of 56 members this spring. Several of these senators represented Ohlone at the State level, as well. So Ohlone is making its mark in the State!
Ohlone celebrated Earth Week in a big way this year. Highlights at the Newark campus include a solar demonstration, worm composting, building the Ohlone biodynamic garden, a microeconomics sustainability debate, and an interesting display of Ohlone’s junk mail. Faculty and staff did a nice job of cleaning up the wetland area here on the Fremont campus, as well.
Researcher Mike Bowman offered a few interesting statistics about how Ohlone compares with neighboring colleges.
- He reports that 54% of Ohlone students intending to transfer do so within six years. This is the third highest rate of the 27 Bay area colleges, running close to Foothill and De Anza with 58% and 57%, respectively.
- Although we have fewer annual headcount than the Bay area college average, we are 5.6% above the average for FTE and 22.8% above the average of full time students.
- Our full-time student retention rate of 74% is above the Bay area college average of 67%.
- Of full-time, first-time students entering in fall 2005, our graduation rate of 29% is above the Bay area college average of 23%.
- Our graduation rates for Asian (35%), African-American (18%), and Hispanic students (27%) are all above the Bay area college averages.
We stack up very nicely!
The Gallaudet University Regional Center Review Panel is continuing with Ohlone as the Center’s site responsible for serving the western region of the US.
Forty-two students received academic department awards at a spectacular ceremony in May. Every student recipient spoke, and many characterized their experience at Ohlone as transforming their lives. They credited the Ohlone faculty and staff for creating a positive and supportive learning environment. Every aspect of the event was an absolute success!
Our Ohlone baseball team had its most successful year ever, clinching its first State championship. We are extremely proud of our players and coaches for their magnificent accomplishment.
Standard and Poors has upgraded the Ohlone College credit rating from AA- to AA. This improved rating, means that we will receive a better rate on the interest we pay investors for the bonds they purchase or if we need to borrow money. This rating is attributable to our good fiscal management and our prudent reserves.
Nine Ohlone faculty took advantage of the opportunity to teach in China this summer. Judging from their responses, it was a positive experience for them all. Here are a few quotes:
“The host institution was most gracious, the accommodations luxurious, and everyone I interacted with was friendly and helpful. Dr. Xisheng Fang smoothed the way for all this to happen.” Joyce Podevn (ESL)
“This was like Marco Polo, opening a brand new (and mildly exotic) channel of communication!” Jim McManus (Music)
“I found the students very capable….and very attentive during class.” Adam Peck (Computer Science)
“I feel that this experience has made me more sensitive to my students’ needs and the challenges that all of my students face.” Leslie Payne (ESL)
Chris Bolt (Business Administration & Technology) led a group of 9 Ohlone College students on an incredible 3-week trip to Shanghai and Suzhou in China. Here are some of her comments:
“We visited a variety of businesses, with each one offering a unique learning experience.…My hope for students that took this trip was that they would have a better understanding of the culture of China and how it affects doing business in China. I also wanted them to experience the fast pace of growth and realize how monumental the changes have been in China over the past 15 years.”
This trip was subsidized by the Business and International Education grant.
Over 1,400 fourth to tenth grade students participated in the 2010 Ohlone for Kids summer Enrichment Program. Along with the popular Ooey-Gooey Chemistry lab course, several new courses were added to this summer’s program. These classes included “Summer with Shakespeare,” “Ohlone for Kids Newscast,” and “FOOD: The chemicals we eat.” In addition to the new courses, “Ohlone Sports Camps for Kids” was introduced. Over 450 young athletes participated in these camps. Another new program launched by Community Education this year is “Ohlone for Healthy Living.” So far 155 participants have danced, tai chied, or indoor cycled their way to a healthier lifestyle.
One of the weekly events designed to keep us informed is a budget conference call sponsored jointly by the Community College League and the Chancellor’s Office. Last week we learned that many colleges are not able to provide the first issuance of CalGrant payments to students while they wait for the State to settle the budget. Fortunately, Ohlone is fiscally strong enough to provide this first payment, thus assisting students in getting a good start on the semester.
And one more reason to celebrate—Last week Ohlone successfully refinanced its Measure A Bond funds, saving local taxpayers almost 3 million dollars.
Overall accomplishments of the 2005-2010 Strategic Goals
We have completed our 2005-2010 Strategic Plan, and it’s time to assess the impact of our planning and follow-through efforts. We had eight goals with specific objectives for each. But instead of giving you detailed numbers, I’m going to talk about how the plan has improved the College in general terms.
In the past five years the Ohlone student body has become more diverse. African-American students, Asian students, and Hispanic students have all become a larger percentage of the total student body. Of Bay area colleges, Ohlone has the highest percentage enrollment of Asian students. So I begin by asking, “How have we promoted appreciation for and understanding of diverse races and cultures?”
Taking a dispassionate look at what we’ve done, I have to say I’m impressed. We now have a thriving international student population at our college that represents connections with 31 countries, providing incredible opportunities to embrace other cultures for our students, faculty, and staff. The side benefit is that, because this program is cost effective, it provides resources to increase the number of seats we have available for resident students in a time of fiscal cuts.
We have also reached out to institutions in other countries. Representatives from these institutions have visited Ohlone, and our faculty have taught abroad, bringing back valuable insights to our campuses. Our students, also, have had opportunities to study in other countries. These experiences change students’ lives.
In addition to our international programs, we have established the World Forum as an Ohlone intercultural event. I know I promised not to focus on numbers, but we have offered 16 well-received World Forum events, and there are more to come. We also have hosted dozens of other cultural events on our campus.
Our focus on multiculturalism has resulted in regular recognition by our Board of diversity celebrations, we’ve started the Puente and Nishati programs to support success for Latino and African-American students, and we’ve increased under-represented groups among full time staff. We are truly a world of cultures united in learning.
To what extent have we developed the Learning College Model over the past five years?
We have implemented very effective learning communities and mentoring programs and provided numerous training and professional development opportunities centered on active and collaborative learning methods for faculty. Faculty have taken advantage consistently of these professional development sessions.
We instituted an automated system to monitor enrollment in classes and adjusted to use our resources in a way that maximizes the number of high-demand course sections.
We have also taken advantage of technology to enhance learning by integrating technology in the classroom and across campus, so now we are wireless and “smart.” The Newark Center and the Student Services Building, along with many upgraded classrooms on the Fremont campus, feature facilities and technologies that support student success.
To optimize student success, we computerized the placement testing process and ensured accurate course placement. Using English as an example, students who take either basic skills English or English 101A the semester immediately following their placement testing have higher retention and success rates than students who enroll based on prior coursework.
Information Technology projects improved curriculum-related systems, the class roster in Datatel, and the Enrollment Management Tool, and provided training on data extraction to support evidence-based decisions. The IT department implemented a Virtual Private Network (VPN) system that allows users to access the campus network from home or while at conferences. All of these technological advances support the learning college concept.
Ohlone has a strong record of working with high schools in Fremont and Newark, and Mission Valley ROP, to help students transition from high school to college. These relationships span the last ten years and have grown stronger in the last five. In addition to our continuing partnership strategy of dual enrollment with high school students taking Ohlone courses at the college on an individual basis, we started the College Connection program five years ago. In this program, high school teachers work with a cohort of high school seniors on the Fremont campus. We welcomed this year’s College Connection students this morning, and we are glad the program is so successful. The Ohlone Learning Alliance for Bioscience or LAB program, a pathway program focused on biotechnology, has also been a new development in the past five years. And we have updated and added to our 2+2 tech prep courses, focusing on connecting with the various career pathway programs at the schools and ROP.
Just a few statistics to support our good results: The number of students transferring from Ohlone to CSUs has increased 16%, while the number of Ohlone students transferring to UCs has gone up 20%. In the statewide Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges report, Ohlone is above both our peer group average and the statewide average on six of the seven performance indicators.
Further testimony to how well we have been doing with teaching and learning, in 2008 the Accrediting Commission determined that there were no recommendations for improvement for Ohlone in the areas of student learning programs and services.
Have we increased the proportion of full-time students at Ohlone and improved their persistence?
Yes we have! In the past five years, headcount enrollment has gone up 6%, but FTES has gone up even more, 19%. This trend is reflected in the number of units students enroll in: the percentage of students enrolled in 6 or fewer units has declined while those students enrolled full time has increased. This is in part due to cutting classes and thus limiting availability of classes for new students. But both persistence and success rates for basic skills students have increased.
How about course availability?
Notwithstanding budget cuts, we have improved availability of our courses in significant ways. We converted an 18-week calendar to 16 weeks, adding block scheduling at Newark, a Learning College Week, and more high demand classes. We developed the E-Campus, significantly expanding online and hybrid offerings—the classes that always fill up first. In fact, the number of virtual students has doubled in the past five years.
To what extent have we provided professional development opportunities for our faculty and staff?
We’ve done well with this goal thanks to the efforts of Deb Parziale and the Human Resources Department. Some of the accomplishments include:
- Developing and implementing a survey assessment tool to determine professional development needs;
- Implementing the first Learning College Week in fall 2006 and continuing it every semester since then;
- Linking professional development and College strategic goals;
- Creating a new-faculty mentor program, complemented by New Faculty Lunches hosted by the President;
- Working out the flex policy for adjunct faculty. Now each are paid for up to 3 hours of approved flex each semester;
- Conducting an annual professional development day for classified staff beginning in 2009, including an Appreciation Luncheon served by the College administrators; and
- Instituting awards for Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Classified Staff, and Manager of the year.
We have also conducted successful training sessions for managers. Assessments tell us that satisfaction with professional development overall is very high.
As a result of the efforts of our IT department, Ohlone is a much more technologically savvy group than it was five years ago. In the use of computers and other technology on the job and in the classroom, reliable sources estimate that our faculty and staff have moved from proficient to very proficient, and managers have also improved notably. I believe our manager’s ability to use data for decision making has made decisions more understandable and transparent.
To what extent is our organizational structure adaptable, collegial, and focused on learning?
In 2003, the College Council was created to serve as the shared governance body for the College. It has representatives from all campus groups. Its purpose is to communicate with the campus community and to serve as the College planning body. Over the past five years it has shouldered the responsibility well and has been engaged with the governance process, especially by providing oversight in developing College plans and planning processes. Program Review and Program Improvement Objectives (PIOs) provide concrete means for student learning and operational improvement. Additionally, this group has successfully shaped and approved the College’s next strategic plan, the updated Educational Master Plan, the Technology Plan, and the Facilities Master Plan--all that in just two years! It has also refined the planning and budgeting processes and is currently assessing their effectiveness. The College Council is the primary advisory body for the President and is the primary conduit for college-wide dialogue.
I am also working with College Council to implement a protocol to assure consistent communication about decisions with college-wide implications. In addition to the College Council--impacted parties, administration, College Leaders, key committees, and the Board of Trustees are kept informed as decisions are made. Increased data about the College and community are now available on our webpage to provide an easy reference for anyone who is interested.
How well have we promoted the health, environmental, cultural, and economic vitality of the communities served by the District?
In May 2010 the Commission of Accreditation for the Respiratory Therapy programs conducted an onsite review as part of program accreditation requirements. The site team commendations indicate the success of this program. The team noted the following:
- Our exceptionally dedicated and competent program director and director of clinical education
- Strong committed clinical faculty devoted to their students
- State-of-the-art laboratory, classroom, simulation lab, and learning resource center
- An enthusiastic, strongly supportive advisory committee
- Supportive administrative personnel
- A strong reputation in the healthcare community for producing well-prepared and competent graduates
Oh, and did I mention the program’s perfect record on students passing the state board exams? I would like to acknowledge the leadership of Director Carol McNamee-Cole and Dean Gale Carli in creating this outstanding program.
And I don’t have to mention how successful our nursing program is. Building on a foundation of these highly successful health science programs, Ohlone has expanded to include biotechnology and environmental studies. These programs complement expanded offerings in Contract and Community Education, as well as our One-Stop Training Center.
The One-Stop Center has made a significant impact on assisting workers laid off from the NUMMI plant with close to 4,000 workshop participations, over 2,000 career assessments, and close to 50 workers placed in new jobs. Ohlone Contract and Community Education has also assisted 500 additional unemployed and displaced workers with career training and retraining workshops.
I’d like to add that Contract and Community Education, through the efforts of Dr. Leta Stagnaro and Chris Warden, have helped our financial situation over the past year.
How well have we improved and maintained the college environment?
Our huge successes for this goal are, of course, LEED Platinum and Gold Certifications for our Newark Center and Student Services Building, respectively. We continually reap the benefits of these sustainable facilities through energy cost savings, financial support, and positive attention from governmental and business groups and the media. I couldn’t count the number of tours of the Newark Center we’ve given. This accomplishment alone has really put Ohlone on the map. For example, at a recent Community College Board of Governors meeting, the Executive Vice Chancellor referred to Ohlone as the #1 college in the system in the area of sustainability! To complement our leadership in sustainability, we have appointed a coordinator of environmental programs and services.
We made progress to improve the Fremont campus with upgrades and repairs, some of which I described earlier. But you are well aware that we have a long way to go to improve this campus. I’ll speak more about our plans when I talk about our new goals.
We’ve done a good job in increasing public and private funds for our educational programs, equipment, and facilities through grants and the college foundation. Specifically in addressing one of our objectives, the Ohlone College Foundation endowment has grown from $650,000 to $2.2 million, exceeding the $2 million goal we set five years ago. The Capital Campaign to make Newark the wonderful learning environment that it is raised a total of $3.4 million, about $1.5 million contributed by the Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation and another $1.9 million raised through other revenue and in-kind contributions. In addition to the Capital Campaign, the Foundation has raised just over $2 million for college programs and student scholarships in the past 5 years.
We have also brought in 20 grants totaling just under $5 million. This total does not include our $1,750,000 Title 3 grant, which has supported much of the progress we have made on our strategic goals. Ohlone students have also benefited from the Washington Hospital Grant for the Nursing Program which allowed us to increase our capacity by 50% for several years.
What progress have we made in developing and implementing a district-wide facilities plan?
This year, after several years of collegial dialogue and preparation, we completed and the Board approved a Facilities Master Plan for the Fremont campus. The plan provides a vision for the campus over the next 15 years and a foundation for specific improvement projects to be accomplished in four phases. The plan will address the educational needs of our students, as it is grounded in our Educational Master Plan and Technology Plan. This plan will be referenced in the election pamphlet for Measure G, the $349 million general obligation bond placed on the November ballot. Funding from the bond would allow us to implement the plan.
The Value of Planning
I want to speak about the value of planning. I have heard many times that plans are not useful, that they are just exercises designed to fulfill an external requirement like an accreditation standard, and they are good for little more than gathering dust on the President’s shelf.
I disagree. We have officially completed our 2005-10 Strategic Plan and reaped the many benefits I just listed for you from having made that plan. It has served as a guide for our efforts over the past five years, and we should be proud of the many accomplishments we can point to. Through this state-of-the-college speech at the start of each semester, we assess where we are with each goal and objective. These goals keep us moving in the direction we have agreed upon.
The act of planning has another benefit. It’s an expression of hope. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by a crisis, and the last two years have brought some big challenges. We have maintained our focus on the future as evidenced by the work we have done on our various plans. We strengthened our planning process and designed a new, well-substantiated Strategic Plan. We’ve sustained a good dialogue about the future, demonstrating that we are able to think about more than the crisis at hand--that we are not overwhelmed by it. We did not allow ourselves to become paralyzed, a symptom of which would be no forward thinking—no plan. We are now poised to pursue our new goals.
Moving forward with the new 2010-2015 Strategic Goals
In 2008-09 we assessed where we were as an institution, the status of our community and student needs, and the direction we needed to take going forward. We created a new five-year strategic plan. We have spent the past year setting up processes that will help us move forward with our new goals. Among these processes is Program and Services Review, which is now in CurricUnet and tied to College goals and supporting data. The College Council is also finalizing the functions of a new budget subcommittee that will help keep the college community informed about the budget and budget decisions. Another subcommittee will recommend Program Improvement Objectives for implementation. And great news, the Ohlone College Foundation is considering funding some smaller-ticket PIOs each year!
Not that we ever really stop moving forward on our goals, but since our new plan starts officially this year, I’d like to remind you of what the goals are.
Through innovative programs and services, improve student learning and achievement.
Objectives for this goal focus on assessment of SLOs and student achievement such as increasing successful course completion, retention, and persistence, and adding to the number of students who transfer and/or earn an associate’s degree or certificate. We also plan to enhance online teaching methods; expand Student Services for evening, part-time, and online students; and increase degree progress information for students.
Support the economic vitality of the community through educational programs and services that respond to identified employment needs.
Already in progress to address this goal is the development of a strategic plan for Career and Technical Education including five-year goals, objectives, and action plans. We plan to identify needs of local employers and create responses through our existing programs, contract education, and new program development. We’ll develop a curriculum that focuses on emerging industries, including green technologies and those identified by the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board and Department of Labor’s high growth, high demand job training initiative.
Promote continuous, needs-based learning and professional development opportunities for all district personnel.
Again, work on this goal is continuous. We are establishing an IT training program for staff and full and part time faculty, opportunities for interested faculty and staff for training in leadership development, and a process whereby all classified staff may access professional development.
Use human, fiscal, technological, and physical resources responsibly, effectively, and efficiently to maximize student learning and achievement.
Many of the objectives designed to achieve this goal are, again, ongoing. We have been working diligently to sustain the fiscal health of the District and designing structures to help faculty and staff gain a good understanding of budget priorities. We are also working to define and address our technology needs. Most notably, we are ready to upgrade the Fremont campus.
The Facilities Master Plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in April. Our Facilities Committee was vitally involved in its development. The plan provides a vision for the Fremont campus over the next fifteen years. It describes its integration with the Strategic Plan and the Educational Master Plan and covers the data and assessment of existing conditions we considered in some detail. Also prominent is our continued commitment to sustainability as we improve this campus. The plan takes into account District enrollment growth totaling 25% by 2015, and includes revitalized science laboratories, classroom, and library space. It organizes repair, renovation, and replacement of existing structures into four phases and applies the principles employed for the Newark Center to make the educational spaces at Fremont as conducive to learning as those at our new campus.
Ohlone faculty and staff are very well aware of the condition of this campus, but to remind you in case you’ve put it out of your mind over the summer, the campus is in dire need of upgrade. The buildings and systems are reaching the end of their usefulness as educational facilities. We have plumbing, electrical, and technological system problems that can get in the way of offering high quality learning experiences for our students. We need to address changes in building codes and requirements that were not in effect when the campus was built. Our buildings need to meet seismic, ADA, and fire safety standards. Right now, they don’t!
Some of the big Phase 1 projects described in the Facilities Master Plan include the Below Grade Water Intrusion project and the Fire Suppression project. These two projects are funded by the State and will begin soon. I will be talking about the impact of one of them shortly. Also in Phase 1 is the replacement of much of the utilities infrastructure (electrical, gas, plumbing, and irrigation), the replacement of our science facilities, safety and accessibility issues, improved signage, and the renovation of the majority of the buildings on campus. Later phases address the frontage property, parking improvements, additional safety and accessibility projects, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, a new arts complex, completion of the Main Street concept, and the entry to the campus.
This plan provides us with a strong foundation to move forward with a bond. This summer our bond polled exceptionally well—67% of voters favor it when we need just 55% for it to pass. What polled even better than the potential votes for a bond was Ohlone itself. And in the spring, with every group I informed about our needs, a member of the audience invariably told a story about how Ohlone impacted for the good their lives or the lives of loved ones. You’re doing a great job, and I can tell you the community appreciates it!
Lead and educate the community in environmental sustainability.
This goal moves us forward in employing sustainability principles in all college facilities and operations and educating students, staff, and the community about the value of sustainability.
Enhance college-wide interaction with, and acceptance of, diverse peoples, cultures, arts, and perspectives.
A long time Ohlone focus, objectives for this goal include increasing the number of course offerings that address cultural diversity and ethnicity and increasing opportunities for cultural enrichment and study abroad for faculty, staff, and students.
Increase access to higher education of under-served and under-represented demographic groups in the District and local communities.
This goal involves increasing enrollment of under-represented groups and improving their retention and success rates. It also urges improving the representativeness of our faculty and staff to better reflect the District population.
Engage all members of the college community in active, continual institutional improvement.
We want to continue to improve communication within our college community and to pursue partnerships and collaboration within the college service area. We will structure processes that promote informed college-wide discussion leading to integrated, evidence-based decisions.
What’s coming this year
Our science laboratories in Building 2 have caused us repeated difficulties and class interruptions recently. In November the Board approved a temporary solution to the problem in the form of modular science structures. The work to place them will involve removal of most of the existing temporary buildings and old houses on the north side of the campus. In that space we will have two modular buildings containing lab classrooms, storage, prep space, restrooms, and new accessible parking. The construction will start at the end of October and be completed in time for fall classes. The project is supported by Measure A money, and if we are successful with Measure G, we will be able to use these temporary structures as swing space as we refurbish our existing buildings.
You should expect noise and dust typical of any construction, and there will be some construction traffic. We will need to relocate some parking temporarily. We will do our best to reduce the impact of the disruption, but there will be some. We will also do our best to keep you informed through email and our webpage.
A project supported mostly by State funding is the Below Grade Water Intrusion Project. Water flows underground through our campus naturally. Over the years it has caused damage to our infrastructure and buildings. As an illustration, along the stairs leading from the main level up to the pond you can see a gap between the stairs and the wall. This is a result of water damage. The State agreed that this project is extremely critical to the continued life of the campus facilities, and as a result, we will begin this project next summer. Unlike the modular science building construction, this project will not be confined to a specific part of the campus. Its effects will be felt all over the campus. Mainly, it will divert the water now flowing through the campus to go around the campus. Probably more significantly, it will support repair of the damage that has occurred over the years and waterproof underground utility tunnels. These tunnels are under every original building--Buildings 1 through 9. Because this project impacts so many parts of the campus, we have the opportunity to make ADA changes to various parts of the campus. You will see new ramps and elevators and remodeled restrooms. I’ll give you more information about this project and its impacts as the time approaches.
Also coming soon is the November election. Ohlone has great interest in this particular election. We will have bond, Measure G, on the ballot designed to implement the Facilities Master Plan for the Fremont campus and some needed additions to Newark. Additionally, our long-time friend and trustee, John Weed, has decided not to run for re-election. Two candidates, along with Trustee Yee, will appear on the ballot for the two open Fremont seats. John, thank you for your 33 years of service to the District and for always having the best interests of Ohlone College in mind.
Finally, it’s accreditation time again. Dr. Jim Wright, our Accreditation Liaison Officer, is leading the development of our Midterm Report due in March. We have spent the summer assessing where we are with the Commission’s eight recommendations—you remember them—and our self-identified planning agendas. At its retreat this week, the College Council discussed the assessments. We hope to have a first draft of the report posted on the website in a couple of weeks.
The Budget and Beyond
My speech wouldn’t be complete without something about the budget. It will be nice when finances are not so worthy of our attention, won’t it?
We have handled this budget situation well. A recent email from the League suggested that the majority of colleges would not be able to keep their doors open if the State budget was not settled by November. I think that’s an overstatement, but I can tell you for certain, that is not the case with Ohlone. We may have to borrow for cash flow reasons, but we are in relatively good fiscal shape.
In 2009-10, the District was very successful in addressing our budget needs, particularly in cutting expenses to address the revenue shortfall we endured. The shortfall was due mainly to a 3.39% workload reduction imposed by the State (meaning enrollment funding was reduced), a softening of lottery revenues, and a severe dip in interest income generated from cash in the County Treasury.
The District has cut expenses by reducing course offerings, maintaining the hiring frost, realizing savings from the SERP and severance incentive programs, and from budget managers carefully reducing unnecessary expenditures in the second half of the year. Ohlone’s response to crisis has been to pull together, and together we avoided layoffs and balanced our budget. We dealt with the crisis collaboratively and humanely. I want to applaud the support you have shown for each other and for Ohlone. These actions resulted in the District turning around an anticipated negative year-end net activity to a positive $400,000, which increases the overall fund balance.
Going forward into 2010-11, as you know, the State has not yet adopted a budget, making the revenue picture extremely difficult to predict. Community colleges are still lobbying hard with the legislature to maintain the budget that is currently proposed for education in general, and community colleges in particular. The positive net activity from 2009-10 I just mentioned will help us weather some of the adverse impacts that could be imposed on our apportionment funding via a negative COLA, or via property tax or other revenue shortfalls. I hope it will help us avoid the need to negotiate additional furloughs for 2010-11.
In the short term we will continue with the hiring frost; that is, I’ll continue to review each vacancy to determine whether to replace or restructure the position. We will also continue to manage our enrollment to stay within our apportionment cap. Furloughs may have to continue, but we won’t design another way to reduce staff further. We are continuing with these precautions because we don’t know yet what the State budget is and our share of it will be, and we still do not believe the State is out of the woods.
I am cautiously optimistic that we will get through 2010-11 without further drastic measures. So, I want you to start thinking about implementing the excellent plans I outlined for you this morning. Start thinking how we can build our college and implement some of the innovations we are known for. We might not be able to do them right away, but the time is coming and we are ready to move forward!
I would like to conclude my speech with a couple of personal thoughts. As I stated, I am cautiously optimistic about the coming budget. BUT, I am STRONGLY OPTIMISTIC about Ohlone College. At the College Council retreat this week I was reminded of July 1st, 2008, my first day here, when I was greeted with a letter from the Accrediting Commission stating we were on Warning. We had just a few months to show we were meeting the accreditation standards. We had to fix the problems, generate evidence that we had done so, and submit a report by October 15—in just 3 ½ months! We then had a second report to demonstrate how excellent our planning processes were. Well, we pulled together and did it. July 1st, 2009, we were taken off Warning.
We have also demonstrated that by pulling together we can handle whatever the State budget puts on our plate. Everyone—faculty, staff, administrators, the Board, the business office, budget managers, bargaining units, everyone--has worked to support each other, save money, bring forward creative solutions, overcome the doomsday mentality, and focus on the good we do for our students. We have kept our eye on the future, looking beyond the difficulties of the moment.
This is an exceptional college. Again and again I have seen that we have what it takes at Ohlone to continue to make ourselves an outstanding Learning College that supports our community. I am excited about working with all of you in the coming year to make our hopes and dreams for the future a reality.
I want to thank Sarah Daniels, who prepared and presented the slides, and all of those who contributed to the speech.
That concludes my State of the College message. I hope I have left some time for questions.Skip plugin notice.
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