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Business Communication Students

Visit and Interaction with Business Communications Class

Professor Rhunette Alums asked me again to be the subject of her students’ writing project.  The students’ assignment constituted of writing to me and presenting either an issue that needs to be solved or a compliment about the College.  The goal of the assignment was to communicate in writing with a CEO and the student emails were just outstanding.  The critical comments ranged from students who observed that they shopped for colleges and chose SCC because of the Non-Smoking Policy (yet they noticed smoking on campus) to a complaint about the lack of parking lot lighting for them; one student commented that he decided to stay in school because he heard me speaking at the tribute to the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger last spring. There were also many positive comments about our faculty and staff.  The overall impression is that students were happy to be here, and eager to continue their education at SCC. My visit to the class where I gave the students direct feedback to their writing assignments was a delight and a major highlight of my week.

Supporting the Community that Supports Us

Jimmy Doolittle Vibrations

There is a buzz going on in the community regarding Solano Community College’s partnership in the launch of the Jimmy Doolittle Education Center.  Trustee Honeychurch and others of us who participated in the Stars and Stripes event Saturday evening definitely felt it. The College is viewed as a pivotal player in the most critical part of the project, acquisition of the land.  With a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place, the Doolittle Foundation will acquire the land– to be shared with the College– thus starting serious planning for the development of the project.  The College, in the meantime, will acquire its portion of the land and start planning the expansion of its Aviation Program.  This is a perfect match for two organizations that can mutually support each other. The news of this partnership is reverberating across the county and parts of the country among all who support the Jimmy Doolittle Center.

This project is a major endeavor for SCC as we provide critical leadership for the advancement and development of the economic and cultural wellbeing of the community.  The Board is owed a lot of credit for approving this innovative initiative — one that has the potential to benefit the College for years to come. It is this kind of imaginative thinking that will enable the College to be even more appreciated and supported in the community.  The support of both Dean Máire Morinec and Professor Kevin Spoelstra is commendable also.

Measure Q Update

Solano County and Winters Citizens Invested in the Future with Measure Q

How does SCC justify the voter approved Measure Q for $348M in bond funds, and what is the College doing with some of these funds to date?

The Measure Q investment the citizens of Solano County and Winters have made in the Solano Community College District (SCCD) is paying off already.   Our proposition before voters was to improve our career programs, enhance transfer programs, to fund basic skills opportunities and to construct state-of-the-art mathematics, science, and biotechnology facilities.  We are already making good on these intentions as shown below.

Career Programs: The College has put forward funding for the Automotive Technology Training program in Vallejo, a program that was on our discontinuance list.   With our efforts underway to build a state-of-the-art auto tech program, students have already enrolled in the program even before classes started.

Middle College Program:  High School students from the Vacaville Unified School District can now earn college credits and will soon be housed at the Vacaville Center.  Fairfield is to follow the same direction in Fall 2014 as we initiate that much needed project

Job Skills: With biotechnology companies in the County expanding their production, there is a great need to build a biotech workforce.  Our SCC biotechnology program is currently beyond its capacity to meet these workforce needs.  Increased funding to develop our Biotechnology Training Center in Vacaville is a direct result of the passage of Measure Q.  

Transfer: We have a high demand for transfer courses in many disciplines, and especially in the sciences. The construction of our state-of-the-art Mathematics and Science buildings in Fairfield will allow us to meet the growing demands for these, and other, transfer courses.

SCC has deliberately elected to not tie our hands with an exact list of Measure Q projects.  Instead we have taken the time to carefully research exactly how we will best spend your tax dollars, and have kept in mind the potential for projects that were “on the horizon,” but not finalized, as we worked to pass the Measure Q bond.  We did not know prior to the passage of the Bond, for example, that we might materialize a project such as an aircraft manufacturer in Vacaville, or that we were prepared to commit to the Jimmy Doolittle Education Center. We have followed an approach that allows for adding projects, while at the same time, fulfilling the letter and the spirit of the Bond’s declared projects and their funding.

The community has trusted the College to wisely manage the Bond funds and to put their tax dollars to the best use possible.  Our estimated need prior to the bond campaign was about $475M.  As we polled likely voters, we found out that they would support up to $350M.  That is how we ended up with $348M.  We intend to seek matching funds to realize the majority of what we need over the next thirty years.

With a thoughtful Governing Board and a prudent Administration, we will meet the needs and expectations of our College and our community in grand fashion!

Welcome to President Cropper

Welcome Reception for Cal Maritime President:

Over thirty people from throughout the county attended a welcome reception for Cal Maritime Academy’s President Rear Admiral Thomas Cropper and his wife.  In attendance were Trustees Young, Thurston, and Chapman, as well as Senate President Gunther, Cynthia Garcia, Jerry Kea, Shemila Johnson and Curt Johnston.  The reception was hosted by the Vallejo Education and Business Alliance, a committee the College was instrumental in forming to bring together the higher education institutions serving Vallejo (Cal Maritime, SCC, and Touro University) and the Vallejo School District. The Vallejo Education and Business Alliance also includes one major employer (Sutter Medical) as well as state and city officials and members of the Board of Vallejo USD and SCC.

It’s Back!

Return of the Blog?

I do not want to predict that the blog is back.  However, there are students and members of the public who comment on the blog regularly and they have motivated me to blog again.  Truth be told that it has been about ten months since I blogged. I did not quit, but I had to prioritize things.  I am glad to be able to post a few blogs and will try to be more consistent.  Though it was a sad occasion I used to launch the blog again, I am happy I could honor my colleague, Charlene Snow with my return to blogging.

Thank you for subscribing and reading the blog.

With much gratitude,


Measure Q concerns

Though some of our employees have expressed concerns that Measure Q, if passed, might merely provide funding for buildings and ignore existing programs, I wish to alleviate this fear.  If Measure Q passes, some of the proposed buildings will replace existing ones or place currently underserved programs into new buildings.  For example, the Aeronautics program went from six students to over forty in a matter of a few years, thanks primarily to the work of the dedicated faculty.  Measure Q dollars could help to build a facility for this program.

As you know, we cannot depend on the state to grow our enrollment and we have had to be increasingly resourceful to plan for facilities.  We are currently working on several projects to bring us more revenue: water conservation, increase non-resident tuition revenue, contract training, etc., but we have no facilities planned for programs such as these.  Furthermore, some of our existing buildings need remodeling, e.g., Building 1200.  Measure Q, if passed, will enable the College to engage in the long-range planning and implementing of facilities that can support the many SCC programs that we would like to expand and/or initiate.

Celebrating the life of a great teacher – human being

The loss of one of our esteemed faculty members, Charlene Snow, was a shock to the college community and to many of her friends.  She was full of life and joy.  She was part of the SCC softball team that almost beat Kaiser on October 6.  She was a joy to have at the college.  She was prompt to offer her services where needed.  She became the dean of the Mathematics division when we found ourselves without a dean of Mathematics and Science.  She was extremely helpful and did her best to advance the college. 

 Charlene was known for being direct and to the point.  She became the vice president of the faculty union, expecting that she would never be tapped for the presidency.  When she found herself there, she did not complain, but did the best job that she could, counting the days when she no longer had that task.  Charlene had tasks to do and she did them.  She had people to love and she loved them.  She had people to give a piece of her mind to; she gave it to them and then went on smiling and making them feel good.

 The last act Charlene was involved with was organizing the administrators to play softball against Kaiser on October 6.  There she was ailing and all, but cheering us on and recruiting and spending her Saturday with her colleagues.  She was living despite being close to her last days.  I cannot recall the last time we spoke, but I know it was pleasant as she detailed what she was going to do next, knowing for well her days could have been numbered.  Despite everything going on, she would always tell me others had it worse, so why worry.  Without being flashy, she made her mark on Solano Community College.

Thank you, Charlene!  May your soul rest in peace!

Thirtieth Anniversary of Coming to America

January 18 marked the thirtieth year of my arrival in the United States.  Arriving in Kansas in the dead of winter, I experienced cold that I never knew existed, not even in a freezer, and never thought I could endure.  Thirty years has taught me many valuable life lessons.  The opportunities I was shown and of which I have availed myself have transformed my views, my interests and my outlook on life, education, family, country, poverty, wealth, life and death.  Among many immigrants and international students, I was one of the luckiest. 

Being informed two days before I was to leave Haiti for good, I hustled to get to an opportunity I had previously declined.  I taught my last class in Haiti on Saturday afternoon, January 16, and left Port-au-Prince on Sunday morning, January 17.  I arrived at Kansas City International Airport at 4:30 a.m. on Monday the 18th, taught my first class at the University of Kansas at 8:30 a.m. and attended my first class in a master’s program at 10 or 11. 

 I left a very good teaching career and became a full-time graduate teaching assistant making $1,800 for the first semester and $4,500 the next year.  As my classmate Nathanaël said to me that Sunday morning as I was begging him to cover my classes in Haiti for me, “How foolish it is to leave such a great situation, a nice car, popularity as a teacher and accept a small fraction of your earnings to go study.”  I responded that I was going to invest in myself to be able to do much better.  I was taking a step back so I could leap forward.  Not only have I done better financially, but intellectually and culturally and in leadership opportunities my life has been enriched because of that foresight.  Friends, colleagues, supporters and students (Kansas, Minnesota, Maryland, Nevada and California) and supporters by giving me the opportunity to serve you, our communities and our students, you have contributed to making this January 18th an even better anniversary for me.  Thank you!

The Tutoring Center Is Thriving

It seems that it was years ago that the Tutoring Center left the portables and relocated to Building 400.  This past week it organized a Tutor Appreciation Day where the tutors did a potluck and opened the center for people to drop in to enjoy some goodies the student tutors as well as their coordinator had prepared.  I had not been to the Tutoring Center this year, but was so pleased to see how the program and its employees have settled in.  Under the leadership of the new coordinator, Marie Mayne, the space has continued to evolve and transformed into small makeshift squads often formed by tables and whiteboards.  Even with a “party” going on, the tutors were busy at work, the tutees were attentive and I could feel the learning that was taking place.  Since the move to the 400 building and better facilities, the numbers have increased tremendously.  To support the students who are coming to us unprepared, this Tutoring Center is an oasis.  To strengthen the students who come to us prepared and skilled academically and who want to share their knowledge, the Tutoring Center is a launching pad to a great career.  Ongoing support for the Tutoring Center will help it move even further and provide academic support for struggling students and a way to strengthen academic skills for those who are already strong.

SCC Future Teachers

The highlight of the last week for me was meeting with the students from the Elementary Math/Science class taught by Professor Genele Rhoads.  These young and bright students are doing their practicum by volunteering at an elementary school.  The delight is not only are they helping teachers with students with diverse needs in their classes, but some of them have started their own programs at the schools.  For example, Swan started a program called “Math in the Morning,” and Daoud started a science program where none existed.  That is true leadership.  The SCC students are learning so much from the experience and they are proud of it.  It was very exciting to meet these outstanding future teachers.  I want to congratulate Professor Rhoads, her Math Department, and Dr. Betsy Julian for their support of the program.  As an old soldier in teacher recruitment, I believe that we teachers ought to recruit and develop the best students for our profession.  Genele is doing just that. 

I want to congratulate Jo, Luzhely, Swan, Daoud, Lolli, Vividiana, Karen and Kerry for an excellent start at teaching. May you inspire future teachers everywhere by your example.