President Burnett Meets with Officials in Washington, DC

From October 24th through 26th, President Burnett visited with several elected officials and representatives in Washington, DC to discuss community colleges, funding, and collaboration. Across the board, representatives agreed that community colleges are underutilized and are the key to economic and workforce preparation.

During the visit, Dr. Burnett was able to educate several key officials about Saddleback’s Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education to be housed at ATEP and provided general information about Saddleback, the district, and its current fiscal situation. The Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education will establish an innovative healthcare simulation center for training and skill maintenance of allied health workers throughout the area.

On October 24th, Dr. Burnett met with several representatives from the National Science Foundation, including Karen Tiplady, director of the division of grants and agreements.  The representatives provided excellent feedback and guidance about an NSF-funded ATEP grant. Burnett then had coffee with Congressman John Campbell’s Chief of Staff, Muffy Day, and lunch with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s Legislative Director, Jeff Vanderslice, and provided an update about the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, the New Market Tax Credit, and Saddleback’s Emeritus Institute. Dr. Burnett also had the opportunity to thank Congressman Rohrabacher for his assistance on the NSF grant. Later in the day, Burnett met with the Department of Education’s Senior Policy Advisor Hal Plotkin, who provided information about the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, which has awarded $1 billion to community colleges. Plotkin provided guidance about what type of awards Saddleback should pursue and best practices for applications. The two also discussed Saddleback’s allied health programs, plans for ATEP, and the need for basic skills education and improving student preparedness. Dr. Burnett’s final meeting of the day was with two representatives from the Department of Labor and discussed making community college the first choice for all students, career training, and upcoming grant programs. Dr. Burnett ended the night at the 2012 ATE Principal Investigators Conference as a guest of the NSF.

Meetings continued on October 25th, when Dr. Burnett met with Congressman Darrel Issa’s Legislative Assistant, Ellen Dargie, who confirmed that the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education fits perfectly with the goal of the New Market Tax Credits. Next, he met with two representatives from Governor Jerry Brown’s office and provided an overview of the district, college, and ATEP development. Deputy Director Katie Wheeler Mathews was impressed with the program and invited Dr. Burnett to provide more information to the Governor’s senior staff in Sacramento. Mathews also provided a list of several people who would be interested in hearing about the project.

Dr. Burnett later met with representatives for Congressman Gary Miller, the House Committee on Education and Workforce, and the Committee on House Administration, and provided an overview of Saddleback, basic aid funding, and the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education. That afternoon, Dr. Burnett met with Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Majority Professional Staff Thomas Showalter and discussed topics related to workforce investment boards and one stop centers, including job collaboration, job training, and the ways community colleges can be better utilized. Dr. Burnett finished the day by meeting with a representative from Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and then with a representative from Senator Diane Feinstein’s office. Burnett provided both with an overview of the college, the ATEP development, New Market Credits, and career and technical education. Senator Boxer’s representative was particularly interested in the work that Saddleback is doing with student veterans.

In his last day of meetings, Dr. Burnett met with representatives from the Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, who presented their Blueprint to Transform Career and Technical Education, which was created after collecting feedback about what is and is not working with Perkins funding. In turn, Dr. Burnett provided an overview of the college and its Perkins programs and provided several suggestions to streamline funding. The group also discussed the Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, remedial education, and the college’s high school partnership program.

Finally, Dr. Burnett met with three representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, who provided an overview about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the health information technology curriculum projects that were developed through the program. Dr. Burnett provided the group information about the nursing and health information technology programs and the challenges those career fields are facing. The Deputy National Coordinator for Programs and Policy, Judy Murphy, provided Dr. Burnett suggestions about additional ways to secure funding for ATEP development.

In each of the meetings, officials and representatives stressed that collaborations and consortiums with local community colleges, four year universities, K-12 schools, and business is vital to securing grants and other outside funding sources. This feedback supports the steps the college is currently taking to reach out to local schools and industry leaders to create new, innovative programs and improve career training and student completions.

Annual President’s Chat

This week I held a President’s Chat, where all college employees are invited to ask questions about any topic in an informal setting.  I was very pleased with the turnout and was happy to see that all of our governance groups were well represented.

The first question allowed me to address a topic that is of interest to many: smoking on campus. Saddleback allows smoking on campus, except inside a building or within 25 feet of a building’s entrance.  I was asked if there was any way to make our campus smoke-free. Currently, Associated Student Government (ASG) is conducting a survey to gauge the mood of their peers and will decide on a plan of action when they get the survey results. Once ASG provides its recommendation, college administration will determine the next steps.

In light of recent reports about the Cal State System’s enrollment freeze, the group voiced their concerns about how this would affect students. The sad news is that higher education cutbacks have already begun to affect our students, we are more impacted than ever and even our highly-qualified transfer prospects are finding it increasingly difficult to get into a CSU or UC.  Despite all of this, there are some positive things — we have secured new TAG agreements to CSU and UCs, and our top feeder school, CSU Fullerton, is one of the few that is still accepting spring transfers.  It is our responsibility to make our transfer students as competitive as possible, which is something that everyone in the Saddleback community is dedicated to doing.

As the state budget continues to deteriorate, it will be interesting to see how the community college system adapts and at least one school is already taking drastic steps to serve their students:  Santa Monica College has proposed a tiered pricing systems. This topic was raised at the chat and it is something that we are definitely watching.

I also provided a library and learning resource center update.  The new building is expected to be ready for services at the start of the fall semester and we will begin moving stacks and personnel during the summer. A grand opening event is expected to occur during the fall semester.

Other topics included the Student Success Task Force update and the ATEP campus. The task force recommendations are currently going through the legislative process, but the good news is that we are already doing many of the recommended steps to improve student success. The SOCCCD Board of Trustees recently approved a proposal for ATEP, which will give Saddleback and IVC the opportunity to develop on the land. We are very excited about the Allied Health Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, which will be the leading healthcare training center in the country. More details will be coming about the site, including industry and educational partners.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the President’s Chat and please keep an eye out for future invitations!