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!