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Welcome to the New Academic Year – Opening Day Remarks

Dr. Stroud Speaking at Opening DayOver the past couple of years, we have all been answering a “Call to Consciousness” here at Skyline College – a deliberate and conscious awareness about our opportunity to engage in innovative and provocative teaching and service that will interrupt the status quo of unmitigated systems of power and privilege for some while others are marginalized or excluded from the regular comforts of being.

To answer this call we went through a major planning process throughout the college, identified six key areas of strategic priorities, with faculty, staff and students engaging in and implementing innovative programs and services within those priorities.

We have continued to bring in outstanding speakers such as Dr. Jeff Andrade – a scholar of critical pedagogy, Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings – a scholar of culturally relevant pedagogy, renowned poet, Santiago Baca, and CIPHER sponsored, Dr. MK Asante, renowned lecturer and author of BUCK – A Memoir.  On September 11 at 6 p.m. we will host American philosopher and scholar, Dr. Cornell West.

This year I am asking us to build upon that consciousness and engagement and focus on Delivering on our promise. Here are a few things we planned and promised:

  • Middle College – Much has been done and we expect to open the first Middle College class in fall 2015 thanks to the leadership of Dr. Raymond Jones.
  • Skyline Promise – We have been talking about it.  Thanks to the English and Math Departments who have been piloting some work to consider multiple methods for placement.  The Skyline Promise would incorporate the use of High School transcripts for placement.  Let’s deliver on that promise this year.
  • We have new programs such as Hospitality and Tourism Management thanks to the leadership of Andrea Vizenor, an expanded administrative medical assistant program, a new education Prep Program in ECE thanks to the leadership of  Kate Brown and Sarita Santos
  • We promised a culture and value of sustainability and the Sustainability Ambassadors Network has done amazing things.  Thanks to their hydration station project, enough water has been dispensed to fill over 14,000 20oz. plastic bottles (that won’t be in the landfills as a result).  Thanks go to Dr. Carina Antilla-Suarez.
  • The Global Learning Programs and Services Division secured a $620,000 Bécalos grant to host 75 international students sponsored by the Mexican Consulate for classes, and cultural experiences.
  • The Bay Area Entrepreneurial Center opened with a bang.  The community is raving about it and that is exciting in light of our hopes for completing the college through state funding and bond resources if the community supports it this November.
  • We have six more approved Associate Degrees for Transfer and are awaiting the approval of five more, giving students even more opportunities to transfer.
  • The CTTL has taken off and is doing an amazing job, especially with the launching of the second New Faculty Orientation.
  • We promised a comprehensive diversity framework.  Thanks to the leadership of Lucia Lachmayr and David Hasson, we now have a model that has been recognized and requested to be presented to our state colleagues at the Student Success Conference in October.
  • And after a year-long process of planning and connecting to the strategic priorities, and after moving the plan through the governance process, I am happy to announce that we were able to implement the staffing plan to the extent of hiring
    • 16 new full-time faculty
    • 15 new staff
    • 10 new administrators
    • While many of the administrative positions are the filling of vacated positions, we do have one new dean and four new director positions.

It takes all of us to support the students and community and I am excited to be able to support and implement such a bold staffing plan.

During the hiring process, I enjoyed the different personalities of the various disciplines.  When receiving the information regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates at the first level interview…

  1.  The English Department wrote a composition – a long composition.
  2. The Math Department provided me with a spreadsheet. And my favorite,
  3. The counseling department would only provide strengths.

I often ask candidates why they want to make Skyline College their academic home.  I am not testing whether they did their website research homework but rather, I am looking at their “ganas” to work with and serve our community of learners.  I received some wonderful answers….

  1. Because we are student centered and have a sense of community – the Mission Statement resonates with them.
  2. Because we are the most progressive community college and focus on social justice and equity.
  3. Because we have reputed excellent and innovative programs and services.
  4. Because we care…about music, helping, people, and more.
  5. Because we are ionspirational, quirky, in the bay area, , are very diverse, have good faculty, and I particularly loved the one that said “you have a good president”… I say that person knows how to interview!
  6. But my favorite was from the Environmental Science Candidate – “Because we have low flush toilets!”

They are joining the faculty, staff and administration of this college that engage in an unprecedented amount of creative, innovative pedagogical strategies that question the traditional orthodoxy and align more closely to the communities we serve.

All of this is summarized in Skyline College’s Annual Report, which has won First Place awards from the Community College Public Relations Organization two years running. When you get a chance, please take a look at this beautiful reflection of the great work being done here at Skyline College.

Each and every one of you make this an awesome place to work, teach, study and learn for the entire community. This year, I am once again asking you to focus on getting students in, through and out of here with the credentials they need to succeed and plans to transfer or engage in work with a commitment to learn throughout their lives. That’s how we will continue delivering on our promise to students.

Chancellor Galatolo let all of us know just how wonderful the students think you are. In his presentation he showed marks of 90%, 93% and 97% on various indicators. Well, in my survey, with “n” = “me,” here is the mark that the faculty and staff of Skyline College received:

100%

Thank you for all you do.

Article by Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud