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.
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.
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With much gratitude,
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.
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!
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.
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.
The peer-evaluation process, also called accreditation in the United States, is the best of its kind in the world. It gives peer faculty, staff and administrators an opportunity to gauge the extent to which a college or university is living up to some standards that are agreed upon. It is honest and deprived of political and bias tone that makes other societies afraid to even attempt such a system. It is still a human system and not perfect, but it stands on its own in the world.
Solano Community College is happy to participate in the self-study process. Not only because of the requirements, but because it allows us to reflect on us as an institution for the work we have been doing over the past six years. Solano Community College participates in the process by having some of its members serve as reviewers for other institutions. For example, this week our Vice President of Finance and Administration, Mr. Yulian Ligioso, is visiting a sister college seeking accreditation. Our Interim Dean of Liberal Arts and the College President visited two colleges last spring for their re-accreditation.
We are excited to showcase our programs, our faculty, staff, students, administrators and our Board of Trustees. At the same time, the reviewers will serve as consultants to us to give us feedback on what we are doing well and the few areas where we still need to make progress.
It is with open arms we welcome our colleagues from throughout our accreditation region to Solano Community College. On behalf of our citizens in Solano County and Winters, I want to thank the team and its chair, Mr. Jerry Patton for the hard work they will understake over the five days they will be with us.
Some of us were hoping for the month of September to vanish so we could see what October would bring us. The last two weeks of September at Solano Community College were more than interesting. We had not yet buried Ennis Johnson when the effect of the TEMPEST cartoon hit. I had just settled at a conference in Sacramento and Kimmi had given me permission to access the network when an email flashed asking me if I had seen the cartoon and how disrespectful it was to Black people. Hoping it was nothing, I searched for the cartoon while simultaneously listening to the discussions about the future of the state and interacting with Peter Bostic in regard to the cartoon. Although I was away, the administrators had good sense and started looking for clues to how the cartoon got into the newspaper. I was happy when I was reassured that TEMPEST could explain how the whole thing got started and it would make sense later.
There were good lessons learned from this incident:
- Dr. Karen McCord had the pulse of a segment of the student body and used that insight to serve the college and the community well. She used it as a lesson and those of us who were either engaged or watching from the sidelines appreciated how she helped manage the situation as peacefully as she could. As I said to a member of the TEMPEST, she was not a mediator, but a teacher.
- The TEMPEST staff showed bravery and did not hide themselves or claim their journalistic immunity, but showed up at a public event and shared their thoughts as people were interested in hearing from these students. While they supported their colleague, they acknowledged that it could have been done better by providing the context for the story. I particularly appreciated Phillip Temple who came to the forum and had the courage to speak and showed great composure under severe fire.
- Advisor Samanda Dorger supported the staff in their actions and she herself admitted that things could have been done better. I had an opportunity to interact with her prior to the incident and knew that she has integrity; I was happy to see that she was not different in dealing with this issue.
- By and large the college community, while showing disgust for what we all thought was racism, showed great restraint and understanding of the paper and its staff, our students.
- The general student body, including ASSC, showed that it has the propensity to react to a negative situation and be heard. That is energy we need to use in the future.
- I have a better understanding of our newspaper staff and I particularly take to heart the fact that they wanted me to hear their side of the story before issuing a statement. I relied on those who reported to me for information and reacted as swiftly as I needed. But the students are correct that had I had more information, my statement would have been worded differently.
The students’ energy is something that we as faculty, staff and students need to harness and use effectively now and in the future. One of the uses of their voices ought to be for improving students’ performance, their motivation and the orientation toward the goals they have for their future. The students’ energy should be used for greater student participation in participatory governance, student government and student organizations. Could we also use these voices to impress on our political leaders the needs of students for access to more courses, better financial aid and greater services in categorical programs? I would say yes, we should.
Several journalists from the TEMPEST expressed disappointment with the way they were treated by the students in the audience and some of them by their treatment in general outside of the event in interacting with students. The report of such treatment has no racial or color barrier. The first thing is to understand that we tend to react to things we are disappointed about with loud voices. Within families, department meetings, and in rallies, voices are often raised. Often real results are not obtained in the raising of the voices, but in calm discussions. I often think of the calmness of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior; that calmness got us somewhere in the U.S. The protests for civil rights also helped and those, while peaceful, were not necessarily quiet. It may be a lesson for us to ensure that after a storm of protests and voicing our opinions we sit calmly and resolve our true issues that are not often expressed well while we are shouting at one another. My invitation is to our faculty, staff and students who are interested to calmly consider our issues of importance for the wellness of our student body and student success.
My confidence in an orderly event came true. As I was asked by Susan Winlow if I was concerned about the event, I assured her that I had no concerns because it would be an orderly one. If one excuses the heated verbal expressions of the speakers, it was very peaceful. As a matter of fact, some of the students protesting the cartoon and the TEMPEST staff chatted in a friendly manner onstage after the event.
I heard one of the students saying: “We are students; we will make mistakes.” I wholeheartedly agreed with him. I had the sense that the TEMPEST staff acknowledged that mistakes were made, while not apologizing for their support of their colleague. My response to the young reporter was for them to make mistakes here at the TEMPEST, so that when they are writing for a broader public they can make fewer and harmless errors. My belief is that the TEMPEST is a laboratory that teaches students how to be journalists in a safe environment. May we all support our students by reading the paper, by giving them feedback as if they are our own students (and they are) and by encouraging them. I want to ask for the same consideration for our newspaper advisor. She has a tough job grooming the reporters of tomorrow.
Knowing the latest actions he took, I was not surprised to learn of his death. But, thinking him gone was unbelievable. He was 56 and I thought of the potential he had not realized and how much more he could have done. As Jobs said, he did not want to be the richest man in the cemetery. He wanted every night to know that he did something good that day. He certainly did a lot for Apple as a company, but much more for education as one of the founders of Apple and McIntosh; and equally for business and personal living with the I-phone, the I-pad, and whatever other I-gadgets exist. Looking at the company itself and its following, there is a deep family spirit among those who succeed in being an Apple employee or, as they put it, part of the Apple Family. One of the lowest employees of Apple shared with me that he is “part of our Apple Family.” This spirit of family is one Jobs must have had a big part in fashioning. His commencement speech at Stanford in 2005 was a great one I would encourage everyone to listen to on You Tube. Thank you, Mr. Jobs and family, for providing humanity with important tools to improve lives.
Practical Academic Exercise: Professor Rhunette Alums gave an assignment to her Business Writing class for which students needed to write to an executive and communicate some issues. She chose me as the executive and the students chose to suggest to me areas for improvement at the college, but also what they like. The letters were all of very high quality and the suggestions were very appropriate and useful. The areas they pointed out included: security and lighting of the campus; beefing up our electronic communication with students; installing surveillance cameras on the campus; and improving access to counseling through group advising. These emails were shared with appropriate people at the college. There will be some changes made as a result of this academic exercise. Professor Alums invited me to speak to the class to not only answer their questions, but also to share with them insight into communicating effectively with employers. That was one of the highlights of my week.