Friday, March 19, 2010

Read All About It!

A new edition of the Southwestern College Sun is out, full of timely updates as well as head-scratching news.

Here are some of our favorites:

Hernandez, Nader, Thompson set to run: The article announces a slate of challengers for this November's Governing Board election. Former SWC Superintendent/President Norma Hernandez, former Chula Vista mayor Tim Nader, and sitting Chula Vista City Council member Mitch Thompson will be running against current board members Yolanda Salcido and Terri Valladolid. (Jorge Dominguez holds the third seat but says he won't be running again.)

No word yet on what the match-up will be, but the SCEA faculty union has endorsed the candidates and pledged PAC funding in support. Stay tuned for more news on fundraising opportunities.

Union says college is running up a surplus: Why did the college cancel 429 class sections this Spring and turn away thousands of students while it had millions in the bank? Faculty union president Phil Lopez continues to question the Board on this urgent issue.

Committees to attack probation: In a report describing the college's efforts to meet accreditation goals, Governing Board President Yolanda Salcido mysteriously blames staff on the ground for the college's problems: "There have been a lot of different board members. . . . There have been a lot of presidents. There have been a lot of administrations, but what's been here consistent is the staff and the management as well as the managers who actually do the running of the district."

Apparently, Salcido missed the part of the accreditation report that said all those folks were doing a fine job while problems clearly originated higher up the food chain. Further, Salcido denies any responsibility on the part of the board: "It's beyond what we can do up here."

We're not sure where "up here" is but suggest Salcido take a look at 7 Things Never to Say to Your Boss. And yes, Yoli, we the voters are your boss.

Finally, not reported in The Sun but definitely of note is the Continuing Revolving Door at SWC:

At a time when Southwestern College must meet multiple areas of improvement by conducting pivotal research and providing the data for the October Accreditation deadline, our Dean of Research, Evaluation, and Planning was suddenly fired by the Governing Board on March 10 with no explanation to faculty and staff.

Faculty and staff are diligently working to meet the additional workload of the Accreditation requirements and have literally had the rug pulled out from under them.

Every college must have a functioning research office to meet the demands of accreditation. Our faculty and staff have been struggling to meet Accreditation demands with no Office of Research for the last 5 years, and we once again have none.

Throughout Dr. Chopra’s first year, when he was still willing to meet with faculty, we requested that the re-establishment of a research office be a priority as it is critical for Accreditation.

He did not replace our Director of Research; instead during one of his two major reorganizations in a year, Dr. Chopra elevated the position to a Dean and added many additional non-research responsibilities. It is an undoable job now.

The current Dean had just started in Nov. last fall. It's unclear what could have happened so egregious it was worth endangering yet again our Accreditation status, but we need this key position for Accreditation here now, and an improvement plan with prioritization of tasks based on Accreditation would have made a lot more sense. What is the plan now for the research we must have by Oct. 2010?


  1. Is it just me, or does there seem to be a pattern of Chopra canning women who directly report to him? I'd say this is beginning to look suspicious, but it's been looking suspicious for some time now. How much longer is he going to get away with this without raising some eyebrows?

  2. The College can,and should, request assistance from ACCJC with regard to the recommendations on planning and SLOs...the offer of help was included in the notification of probation letter from Dr. Beno. Has the college made the call? Tick tock, tick tock.

  3. Anon 9:07

    My understanding is that calls have been made. They haven't been returned--yet. My understanding is also that Dr. Beno is a nut case whose time is up. Tick tock, tick tock.

  4. It makes perfect strategic sense to enthusiastically accept assistance offerd by the AACJC/WASC, the organization that hold's SWC's accreditation future in its hands. It makes no sense to spit in their eye, deny or argue with the probation recommendations, or to wave a red flag in their face, regardless of your personal assessment of the organization's leadership. They DO have the authority.

    SWC should face the realitity that it is on Probation, a very serious sanction, and organize to work on ameliorating the five recommendations due in less than 6 months, and another five due in less than a year. This is serious business to which the college must attend with an organized purpose. The Board cannot escape their responsibility.
    Does Dr. Chopra, or anyone else on administrative staff, have the expertise and knowledge of the Accreditation Commissions's "Guide to Evaluating Institutions". This is not easy folks, and takes technical know-how not gained out-of-state or on the dias. For goodness sake, get SOMEONE who knows how to read the guidelines and respond to the sanctions before the college sees itself on "Show Cause" the next time around. The 'fixes' are not easy because they are largely based in participatory governance that the curent admin/board does not allow.The only exception is the 'substantial change' issue which should be handily resolved. The other 9 are significant especially because they involve PLANNING and organizational processes based in participatory governance. That has yet to be established.
    So, the clock is indeed ticking...the challenge is great. That is why time is of the essence. No joke.

  5. To March 20 Anon:

    You've got it: "they are largely based in participatory governance that the current admin/board does not allow." And they're still not allowing it. Faculty and staff are working like crazy, only to be shut down by the admin again and again.

    You're preaching to the choir here. Please bring your message to the next Governing Board meeting so there's some chance they'll hear.