USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy Symposium

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the inaugural USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy symposium. Nearly 1,000 attendees learned about successful, real-world, bipartisan solutions to education, energy and the environment, fiscal and economic policy, health and human wellness, and political reform. The event stressed the importance of “reaching across the aisle” to address the major issues that our state and, consequently, our college is facing. I know that everyone at Saddleback recognizes the importance of collaboration, but it was extremely eye-opening to hear that sentiment from some of the most respected politicians and entertainment executives in the country.

The program included two distinguished panels and a lunchtime discussion.

The morning panel, “Political Leaders’ Views on the Importance of Post-Partisanship,” included Arnold Schwarzenegger, inaugural holder of the Governor Downey Professor of State and Global Policy at USC; Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida; Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senate majority leader; John McCain, U.S. senator from Arizona; Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico; and Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts served as the moderator.

The lunchtime discussion, “Local Solutions to Global Problems,” featured R. K. Pachauri, chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. NBC 4-Los Angeles reporter Conan Nolan moderated the panel.

Finally, the afternoon panel, “The Power of People and Innovation,” included Schwarzenegger; Rob Friedman, co-chairman of Lionsgate; Brian Grazer, chairman of Imagine Entertainment; Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M and chairman and co-founder of Beats; and Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios. Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, moderated the panel.

It was an honor to be invited to and attend this event. I am dedicated to sharing the lessons learned from this event with faculty, staff, administration, and students to find ways to improve collaboration within the entire Saddleback community.

More than 209 First-Time Students Participate in Freshman Advantage Program

More than 200 incoming freshmen who tested into English 200 and/or Math 251 or lower were treated to a day on campus to meet with counselors, register for classes, and learn tips for ensuring their success at Saddleback College.

From left: Orlantha Nin, transfer center coordinator/counselor, Larry Perez, mathematics instructor, Doug Barr, counselor/professor, and Janet Ventura, counselor

Freshman Advantage is a BSI grant funded program largely spearheaded by the matriculation and counseling departments and included collaboration with the division of math science and liberal arts, the LAP, transfer center, career center, reading lab, financial aid, admission and records, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), and the bookstore.

From Wednesday, July 25 through Saturday, July 28, students were paired with a counselor in one of four small groups based on their majors. The day started with a fun ice breaker with Learning Disabilities Instructor Mike Hoggatt followed by a PTK student speaker and a presentation by Professor Larry Perez. The day also included a financial aid information session, a campus tour, and a session during which students logged into MySite and created a MAP.  Students who were ready to register did so and the bookstore had their required textbooks waiting for them at a bookstore orientation.

A happy student!

After fully matriculating, early bird students were given the opportunity to opt into the free workshop and filled out a questionnaire that included information about their educational and career goals. The support for these students continues throughout the year. Students will be tracked during the fall semester and those who successfully complete their English and Math are guaranteed a seat in their next required basic skill or remedial English and Math course.  The counselors will also utilize SHERPA to keep in touch with the students and ensure that they stay on track.

Freshman Advantage was created in response to the high percentage of first-time freshmen that make up the total number of students on academic probation. In the 2011/12 school year, approximately 43% of the students who were on academic probation were freshmen.