Welcome to the new academic year.
Let us begin with a moment of silence to honor trustee Andrea Leiderman, who died on September 11th, and remember her leadership on our governing board and her dedication to our community throughout decades of public service.
Let me now introduce Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees President Sandy Hay, who will introduce our other trustees and provide you with some words of welcome.
• Board Vice President Betsy Bechtel
• Trustee Hal Plotkin
• Trustee Paul Fong
• Foothill Student Trustee Bridget Howe, and
• De Anza Student Trustee Maryam Noor
Let me also acknowledge Dr. Bob Smithwick, one of the district’s founding trustees and for whom this theater is named. Dr. Smithwick, please stand.
Joining Dr. Smithwick is another trustee who continues his stewardship of our mission in the community, Dr. Jay Jackman. Thank you for coming.
Now I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong, president of Foothill College, for hosting us at Foothill College today. Please stand. Thank you.
Let me also recognize:
• Dr. Brian Murphy, president of De Anza College
• Vice Chancellors Jane Enright, Mike Brandy and Willie Pritchard
• Executive Director of Facilities, Operations and Construction John Schulze and his team, who are leading the Foothill-De Anza makeover you saw on our opening video and experience on your campus every day. Thank you.
I’d also like to welcome those faculty and staff who have retired from the district who are with us today, as well as some special guests from College of the Canyons, the Packard Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Thank you all for joining us.
Please join me in providing a special welcome and recognition to the one 152 faculty and staff in the audience who have served the district for 25 years or longer, and who are listed in your program today. Thank you for your longtime dedication and service to our students. Please stand and be recognized.
Let me now introduce to you the leaders of our participatory governance constituencies. Each of these individuals plays a special role in advising the board and me about district policies, procedures, strategic planning and budgeting. They will serve as your representatives this year. Please stand as I introduce you and remain standing until we’ve introduced everyone.
• Dan Mitchell, this year’s District Academic Senate President
• Paul Starer, president of the Foothill Academic Senate
• Lydia Hearn, president of De Anza’s Academic Senate
• Rich Hansen, president of the Faculty Association
• Carmela Xuereb, president of Foothill’s Classified Senate
• Dennis Shannakian, president of De Anza’s Classified Senate
• Bret Watson, president of the newly formed Central Services Classified Senate
• Javier Rueda, chapter chair of SEIU, local 715
• Leo Contreras, president of CSEA Chapter 96
• George Robles, chief steward of the Teamsters
• Chuck Lindauer, president of the Administrative Management Association
• Duane Kubo, president of the Multicultural Staff Association
• Adrian Diaz, president of the Associated Students of Foothill College, or ASFC
• Anna Callahan, president of the De Anza Associated Student Body known as DASB and
• David Garrido and Kim Chief Elk, who represent the Foothill Classified Senate and Teamsters, respectively, on the Chancellor’s Advisory Council.
Thank you all for your leadership on behalf of our students, faculty, staff and the community. Please be seated.
From October 17th through the 20th, two visiting teams from the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges will join us to review the Accreditation Self-Studies that so many of you worked on last year.
On the final day of their visit, Thursday the 20th, they will present their preliminary findings to all of us at each campus. Every six years, these external peer review teams are drawn from across the Western region for these visits. They are very important to our future. Their decision to recommend re-accreditation allows us to offer credit for our courses and certifies quality and accountability to the public for the next six years.
Will each of you who have chaired and/or serve on one of the themes or standards committees for our accreditation self-studies please stand and be recognized? And let’s all give a special thanks to Dr. Rose Myers and Dr. Robert Griffin, who serve as Foothill and De Anza’s liaisons to the Accrediting Commission, and to Bob Barr, Andrew LaManque and Rob Johnstone, who prepared all of the data, analysis and research findings for the self-studies. Thanks to each of you.
Now I’d like to extend my appreciation to our Academic Senate leaders and those faculty, staff and administrators who worked with me over the last four months to develop today’s program. More than 100 people contributed to today’s educational conference.
As you can see, we have an ambitious schedule, one marked by the opportunity to learn from one another about how best to educate the more than 44,000 students who will walk through our doors at Foothill and De Anza on Monday, seeking to improve their lives through higher education. Thank you all for creating such an exciting program for us today.
Finally, this day would not be possible without the planning and coordination from many people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to prepare for today.
• Marty Kahn and the Broadcast Media Services department
• John Vandercook and the ETS staff
• Kay Thornton and the Smithwick Theater staff
• Patrick Gannon and the De Anza Dining Services staff
• the staff of the Human Resources office for helping us put together our list of faculty and staff with longtime service to the district, and
• Foothill Academic Scheduling Coordinator Denise Perez.
• Let me also acknowledge Carlos Garza, the De Anza student who worked with Marty on the Measure E video.
• And a very special thanks to Jon O’Bergh of my office, who was instrumental in coordinating the day’s logistics and designed the printed program. Thank you all.
“Learning Matters” is our theme for this new academic year. We will devote the entire day to our core mission of learning. Learning about what makes a difference in student achievement. Learning about the interrelationship between instruction and student services. Learning about what’s happening in the nation to better prepare our students for the new ways of thinking and working together that will be demanded of them as they complete their educational goals and move on to the next stage in their lives. We’ll hear about the best practices that enable their success—success stories from the faculty and staff who strive to give our students the best possible teaching and service we can offer. We’ll also learn about some less successful efforts and missed opportunities, and how, if we get the chance, we would do it differently next time. Because we are such large institutions, most of us are not exposed to the full range of educational opportunities we offer. The sessions today will provide us with new insights into teaching, learning and student services so that we can enable each of our students to exceed their expectations and reach their dreams for a brighter future.
One of the very best characteristics of Foothill-De Anza is that we work toward perfection in an imperfect world, that we find ways to continually do it better, to improve a student’s opportunity for success, to make a program or a service more effective, to simplify a process so it’s easier for us to get our work done. On behalf of our board of trustees, the presidents and me, let me open the new year by expressing our appreciation to each of you, for bringing your best to our workplace, the classrooms and offices of Foothill-De Anza, where teachable moments of insight and opportunities allow all of us—students, faculty and staff—to learn how to think critically, solve problems and make a difference.
Last week, I represented our district at the board meeting of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, attended by superintendents from 10 of the largest K-12 districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. It was a chance to hear from dozens of top business leaders in Silicon Valley what they believe are the most important skills and abilities students need to succeed in Silicon Valley. Over and over, they cited the following:
• The ability to think critically
• The skills to write clear, coherent reports and letters
• The ability to solve problems
• Mathematical skills
• Scientific reasoning skills
• Civic responsibility
• The ability to work in teams
• Good judgment, and
• Ethical behavior
This is exactly what we strive for. We talk a lot about opening the doors of higher education to our students, about providing opportunity for them, and about the barriers they must overcome to do well at Foothill or De Anza, About what it takes to move on, into the workforce, into the university and into the next phase in their lives.
Opening doors is true, as well, of the district’s prompt reaction to the recent disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi, which I know has evoked our deepest empathy for the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives and dreams have been disrupted.We have been fielding many inquiries from students and their families. We are working with the community to offer shelter, financial aid and other resources needed to assist them. I know we will do everything possible to give students the opportunity to resume their education here at Foothill or De Anza, or elsewhere if they wish. Some students have already enrolled at our colleges this fall. Many thanks to the faculty and staff who are already at work to help these students make a smooth transition, and thanks to all of you who have given personally to help alleviate the suffering of those affected by this tragedy.
I am confident that this will be a year of both opportunity and quality—two of the four goals of the District Educational Master Plan that we will use to guide us over the next decade.
I cannot overemphasize our value to the community, the high hopes our students bring to us when they walk into our classrooms, the esteem in which the community holds us for our educational expertise and for our dedication to our mission of learning. To represent to our community all that you give to our students each and every day is a great joy and why I recommit to my work with a broad, proud smile each morning and every academic year.
In Sacramento, we are fighting to bring Foothill-De Anza’s budget up to the state average. It’s almost unbelievable that we have accomplished so much, despite being one of the lowest-funded community college districts in the state. It is so extraordinary to think about what we have been doing to maximize the use of our funding to benefit our students, funding that is half the national average and several hundred dollars per student below the state average. We receive less than $4,000 per full-time student and, in comparison, the Palo Alto schools receive $11,500 per full-time student. Their superintendent Mary Frances Callan said on Monday that their budget is about half of what other high-income school districts in the East allow, despite their high test scores and their ranking of 4th in California.
Foothill and De Anza take their place among the top of America’s community colleges. Imagine what we will be able to accomplish when our base funding improves. You will continue to hear the word “equalization” this year, the goal that remains before us: to equalize our funding, first to the state average and next to the national average. Frankly, in my view, we should be far above the national average, but that is the challenge and the opportunity that California’s taxpayers—you and I—will have to tackle in the next decade.
In the meantime, we begin the year with a balanced budget, thanks to all of your accomplishments last year - helping us stem the tide on our enrollment decline, helping us through the tough times of reductions, and in being as penny-wise as we could. We ended the year serving about 3% fewer students overall, so we have much to do this year in attracting and retaining students, but we aren’t carrying a budget deficit on top of that, thank goodness! Actually, many community colleges both here in Silicon Valley and throughout the state have experienced a declining enrollment, partly due, we believe, to student fees, partly due to the economy, the rising costs of gasoline, childcare, housing, and a host of personal challenges that students are facing. At the statewide community college CEO board meeting in Sacramento last week, we called for a study of what, more precisely, accounts for the enrollment changes we’re experiencing, given that an increase of more than 750,000 students is expected between now and 2015, and what steps we need to take to get these students to our doors.
That is why we are delighted to welcome one of the foremost educational scholars in America, Dr. Vincent Tinto, who will share with us this morning his perspectives and research about student retention and achievement.
As we state in our mission, our goal is to provide a dynamic learning environment that fosters excellence, opportunity and innovation to meet the educational needs of our diverse students and community. To accomplish this, we want to use this day to explore the best thinking and best practices we can identify to meet the diverse needs of our students. Whether in our educational master plans, our student equity plans, or our diversity plans, we seek to close the achievement gaps among our students by increasing their success in college. We have some special challenges.
As we know, many of our students are first in their families to attend college; a large percentage lack the basic reading, writing, computation and critical thinking skills crucial for success in college and in life; others come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and may not have the financial support or encouragement essential for success; and, as you know, many students are from ethnic and racial groups most underrepresented in California higher education.
We have four goals in our master plan:
• First, to increase opportunity for students who attend our colleges.
• Second, to increase quality through our work in student equity to close the performance gaps so that students attain higher levels of achievement.
• Third, to increase our accountability to the public and to ourselves by illustrating that we are using our resources carefully and wisely. I’m happy to announce that last week, we received the highest possible bond rating, Aa/1, from Moody’s—the only California community college district in the state to do so.
• Standard and Poor’s has rated the district AA, the highest rating provided to community colleges in our state.
• Finally, our fourth goal is to work toward sustainability, to preserve our beautiful and precious learning environment, and to steward the excellence of our district for future generations.
The sessions today give us the opportunity to learn more about ways we can achieve these four goals. In closing, let me paraphrase a quote I have long found significant: "Dare to plant the seeds of trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” I believe that is what each of us in the Foothill-De Anza family will do for our students throughout the year. Thank you.
Let me now set the stage for our keynote speaker, Dr. Vincent Tinto, who serves as Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Higher Education Program in the School of Education at Syracuse University.
When you look at Dr. Tinto’s Web site, the first words and phrases that you see are:
• Learning better together
• Developmental education
• Learning communities
• Rethinking the first year of college, and
• Taking retention seriously
Clearly, that tells us a lot about his significant research interests and his many studies and publications. He has focused his work in the areas of student persistence and attainment in higher education and on the curricular and pedagogical innovations designed to enhance student achievement, especially for the underrepresented and underprepared students in community colleges and universities. At present, he’s writing two books about higher education reform, one titled “Colleges as Communities: Rethinking American Higher Education,” and the other, “Taking Student Retention Seriously,” a book about the application of theory and research on student retention to higher education practice and reform.
Professor Tinto received his Ph.D. in education and sociology from The University of Chicago. He is currently Distinguished University Professor at Syracuse University and chair of the higher education program. He serves on the editorial boards of several noted journals and he chaired the national panel responsible for awarding $5 million to establish the first national center for research on teaching and learning in higher education. As a member of the Pathways to College Network he is currently engaged in a national effort to increase access to college. He also works with the Council for Opportunity in Education, the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Education, the European Access Network, and the Dutch government to develop programs to promote access to higher education for disadvantaged youth in Europe. His current research, funded by grants from the Lumina Foundation for Education and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation focuses on the impact of learning communities on the academic achievements of under-prepared college students in urban two and four-year colleges.
I was fortunate to hear Dr. Tinto speak last spring at Mission College, where he convened more than 100 faculty and staff from the Bay Area, including many from Foothill-De Anza, who are implementing learning communities to increase student success.
It was truly a day of both inspiration and serious challenge to do more to help students succeed—and what I hope this Opening Day will provide to each of us as well.
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Vincent Tinto.