Southwestern College capped Spring 2017 by celebrating the achievements of our students, including the Student of Distinction awards, a variety of program graduation ceremonies (including nursing, dental hygiene and the police academy among others) and our annual commencement ceremony at DeVore Stadium, in which a record number of students received diplomas. At commencement, we heard inspirational and passionate speeches by our honorary degree recipients and student leaders. To me, these were a reminder of our college’s importance as a pathway to opportunity, and as a guardian of academic freedom and free speech. While ignorance has the frightening potential to destroy the world, knowledge coupled with compassion have a greater capacity to save it. Or as I said at commencement, “The highway to hell is paved with alternative facts. The stairway to heaven is built with knowledge and love.”
In addition to celebrating the successes of our students, the Board has been working with our campus community to move our college forward. The hard work of our Superintendent/President Dr. Kindred Murillo and numerous college employees resulted in full reaffirmation of our accreditation. Both Southwestern College and the accrediting commission (ACCJC) welcomed new leadership this year, and hopefully we are seeing the beginning of an era of transparency, collaboration and renewed dedication to our students.
The Board adopted a tentative budget that is balanced, providing very modest pay increases for college employees. Recently we held a joint meeting with the Chula Vista City Council to begin exploring the possibilities of a “university center” in South County in which our students would be able to access four-year and graduate degree programs from a variety of higher education institutions. We held our second facilities workshop this year to refine our construction priorities and assure our planning process keeps the needs of our students in focus.
Spring also brings new student leadership – I look forward to working with our new Associated Student Organization (ASO) President Kirstyn Smith and student trustee Rudolph Villegas, and thank last year’s student leaders ASO President Mona Dibas and Trustee Freda Hernandez for all of their work. I also want to thank our retiring employees for their many years of service, including Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Tyner, who is taking a well-earned rest after literally decades of work at Southwestern.
While many have the summer off, the Board and numerous campus employees will be at work on a number of fronts, including facilities and curriculum planning,
moving forward on our equity agenda, forming new community partnerships, and addressing academic, social and economic barriers to student success. Whether you are taking a break to rejuvenate or working through the summer, your efforts and potential are appreciated!
In service to the beloved community,