Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Are You Listening, SWC Board and Admin?

While the SWC public relations machine churns out its own good-news press releases, here are some news items it's bound to overlook.

Cited in this post:

Pat Flynn, writing for the San Diego Union Tribune reports that "the San Diego Community College District is reversing a two-year trend of class reductions and adding 1,150 classes" for the upcoming Fall term. The district includes City College, Mesa College, and Miramar College.

The classes are being funded by reserve savings. District Chancellor Constance Carroll points out the funds could have been left in the reserve, but "our board, all of us, think this is the best thing to do with double-digit unemployment . . . and all the students who can't get into SDSU because of their budget cuts."

We applaud this decision by the San Diego Community College District Board and Chancellor Carroll. SWC, are you listening?

Similar class savings could have been realized at SWC if only the board and Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra had listened to faculty, staff, students, and community members over two years ago, when concerns about institutional organization, budget decisions, and governance issues were first raised. (This blog, in fact, was started as a way to catalog and communicate these concerns to the larger community.)

Instead Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra and Governing Board members, in particular current president Yolanda Salicido and former president Terri Valladolid, have continued down a path of top-down management that has led to dismaying results, including record-breaking class cuts, national notoriety for civil rights violations, and threatened loss of accreditation.

Compare the governance of SWC to that of Wake Tech Community College, which was recently singled out in a Chronicle of Higher Education report, "Great Colleges to Work For." According to The Chronicle, North Carolina's Wake Tech stands out as "a college where faculty and staff members say they can openly discuss job issues and concerns with administrators." Much of the credit goes to Wake Tech president Stephen C. Scott, who made openness and a culture of collaboration priorities from the beginning. The result is a climate of trust and rapport between administration, faculty, and staff, where everyone works together to resolve problems.

It should come as no surprise, then, that 30 of 39 Great Colleges cited "Collaborative Governance" as the top reason making their college "great." (Also frequently mentioned by these model colleges were "Respect and Appreciation" and "Confidence in Senior Leadership.")

In contrast, according to the WASC action letter notifying SWC of its probationary status, the college falls seriously short in this area: "The team recommends that the college set as a priority fostering an environment of trust and respect for all employees and students that allows the college community to promote administrative stability and to work together for the good of the college. The team further recommends that the college establish a written process and structure providing faculty, staff, administrators, and students a substantial voice in decision-making processes."

SWC, are you listening?


Further reading from this blog:

Southwestern College on Probation
A Note to Students and the Community


  1. As wonderful as it may seem on the surface, the San Diego District's restoration of some of the cut classes may be necessary to restore them to meeting their 50% ratio, required by the State. This ratio essentially requires that 50% of district funds be spent on instruction. Wonder how SWC is doing meeting that requirement?

  2. Hey, let's ask some administrators! :/