Convocation 2008

Celebrating Community and Place - Convocation 2008

Celebrate D V C - Convocation 2008Last year I talked about "Circles of Enlightenment and Inclusion" and I shared with you some of my personal philosophy regarding culture and climate.

This year I want to continue sharing with you my vision of DVC working together from a strengths-based center. "Place" in today's context is referring to our name, our facilities, and our location. "Community" is referring to people, our relationships with each other and our institution as a social organization.

Who we imagine we are is who we become.

We are celebrating Diablo Valley College's 59th year offering academic, vocational, basic skills and ESL programs. Plans are underway for the District to begin the 60th year celebrations this December and DVC will be honoring those 60 years with specialized events throughout 2009.

DVC officially began in 1949, in high schools, banks, churches, even an old army camp. We were called East Contra Costa Junior College with emphasis on a "‘strong liberal arts course of study' for purposes of transfer to other institutions of higher education." This focus has served us well in our high transfer rates.

The San Ramon Campus began as the Center for Higher Education (CHE) in 1985. CHE formally changed its name in 1999 to the San Ramon Valley Center when it was granted center status by the state system office and the California Postsecondary Education Commission. On November 2, 2006, SRC moved to its permanent location at 1690 Watermill Road, San Ramon.

A brief history of our "place" here in Pleasant Hills shows us that this area was originally home to the Costanoan Indians. In 1844, the Mexican government granted the land to William Welch, and it became part of his huge Rancho Las Juntas, which included northwestern Walnut Creek, all of Pleasant Hill, and the northeastern half of Martinez. After World War II the land was subdivided into housing tracts, and on October 5, 1950, the college district Board of Trustees purchased the DVC site for $172,500. Construction began in September, 1951. We began classes here in 1952, in 10 steel buildings acquired from the government for $45 each.

The cornerstone for the first Pleasant Hill permanent building was laid in 1953, and the name Diablo Valley College was adopted in 1958. This means we are celebrating our name of 50 years - Diablo Valley College. DVC was first accredited in 1952, so we have many things to celebrate: our place of nearly 60 years, our name of 50 years, and our accredited status of 56 years. We've come a long way since those humble beginnings. Over one million students have been served in our college.

To continue with the theme of "place" I want to share with you the status of the various facilities projects on which we are currently working. Our buildings and edifices present the shapes - a place for our community to learn together.

  1. Engineering Technology Building renovation and remodel: This project was approved by the system office to be completed using both local and state bond money. That state bond was to be on the ballot for November 2008, which we now know will not happen. The most recent information from the system office is that we will be required to go through the entire process again to become approved. The bottom line is that this project has been delayed.
  2. The Art Building is a completely new building. I discovered in February 2008 that DVC had an IPP (Initial Project Proposal) approved for a new Art Building to be completely funded out of state bond dollars. This meant that we had to get a FPP (Final Project Proposal) into the system office by July 1. We hired a consultant, David Lenahan, and an architect, Peter Soldat, who worked with the DVC Art Department at the end of last semester to identify all programs and services, agree with the State on square footage with the appropriate load / capacity ratios, and design a 45,000 gross square foot building to replace the current building. I want to acknowledge the hard work done by Michael Almaguer, dean; Michele Krup, department chair, and the Art faculty - some of whom chimed into meetings via phone. We made the July deadline and this proposal is at the State awaiting approval. If approved, it will be in line for a 2010 bond funding. This project was not listed on the Contra Costa District 2006 bond list and does not qualify for local bonds. We will wait to see what the state does, but at least we are in line.
  3. Other facilities
    The County Connection is looking to build a signature DVC Bus Transit Center on the present site of where the buses turn around. They are awaiting funding for this.

    Facilities areas we can celebrate, which reveal our place and community values:
  4. Additional solar panels on Parking Lot 3 have been completed this summer.
  5. The Planetarium will finally be completed within the next two weeks.
  6. The football field will be completed in time for the first home game Friday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Judy WaltersA very important part of any "place" is our maintenance and operations. I am very happy to share that renovation is occurring on roofs and railings throughout campus: the Music Building has been completed, and the administrative and instructional buildings are being completed this week. The Art Building's railings were completed this week, and work on the Liberal Arts Building railings will begin soon.

Our newest and most exciting "place" is the Student Services, Food Services, Culinary Arts, and Commons Area. This project has been assigned to Steinberg Architects of Sacramento. They have held a few meetings this summer and will be doing programming throughout the fall. We hope to have a footprint area selected by January. They will then begin the design work and we'll all begin the planning for swing space. I am optimistic that we will be digging holes in the ground by fall 2009.

Student Services, food services, and culinary arts will be built around a common area. It presents an opportunity for us to refocus our college from one of buildings where we have been siloed, into one with a Commons Area - a place in which many things can happen. This Commons Area will be the center, the heart of our campus. Picture if you will this current building gone, and the open space that will be created; then add to that the disappearance of the Student Services building. (True, we will add two buildings back, but there are many options as to where they can be placed, creating a center space).

Along with this project is my pet project of "place" - getting new signage up.

As part of that celebrating, I invite you to become familiar with the wonderful new stylized DVC logo and use of our name that has been created by Sharrie Bettencourt and Judy Klein Flynn. We also have new letterhead and new business cards, and the new football field will feature our DVC logo with lettering across the top and bottom of the field- "DVC Vikings."

If one has a "Place" then one should also have signs denoting that place. We have had many conversations about the signage around campus. We were able to get new directional signs placed in the various holders, but I want us to have name signs telling people this place is DVC, and we are proud of who we are and what we do. While the redwood signs were lovely at one time, they must be replaced. Several of you have looked for some "temporary" solutions. But, when presented with those solutions at President's Cabinet, we realized that the cost for "temporary" meant they would last longer than just a few years and so we might just as well do permanent signs that would last for 30 years. I have asked Chris Leivas and Michael Almaguer to head a task force reporting to leadership council. We will do three signs: two on Viking Drive and one on Golf Club Road.

We are an institution almost 60 years old with a name that is 50 years old, a place reminiscent of our historical heritage with indigenous peoples and Spanish land grants - a place that was designed in 1950. The unconditionally-positive question I ask today is, "What has been the best of DVC" that we want to keep to move the organization forward in meeting the needs of the students whom we serve? Or perhaps better rephrased by faculty member Mohammed Panahandeh, who said to me last week, "We should be asking, ‘what kind of a place and community do we need to create to prepare students who will serve the global community 10 - 15 years from now?'"

Convocation 2008 participantsCommunity ... so who are the students that we serve today?
Our 2008 fall headcount enrollment for the college as of August 14, 2008, is 17,863, an increase of 6.63% over Fall 2007. We pull 83% of our students from Contra Costa County, with 16% coming from Alameda, Solano, and unknown. The age of our students has changed over 10 years. In 1998, 56% of them were 24 years or less. In 2007, 64% of our students are 24 years or less. We are increasing the number of younger students who also tend to take more units. In 1998, 32% were taking 12 or more units. In 2007, 35% are taking 12 or more units. In the same time period, students taking six units or less dropped from 43% down to 37%.

The ethnicity of our students has also changed over the same time period, with African American students moving from 4.5% to 5.5%. Asian / Pacific Islanders have been fairly consistent around 18-19%. The biggest growth has come in Hispanics, from 10% to almost 14% growth. The Caucasian population has gone from 60% down to 47%.

We are a complex organization of many cultures; consequently, it is important for us to accept that there are multiple truths and multiple realities, and our community must be able to work with multiple perspectives.

One College... on the move
But what about us, those of us who work here - faculty, classified, administrators/managers? Can this community move forward, and what is our vision? During this past year, a number of people have asked me about my vision for DVC. Since my leadership philosophy is that a vision should involve multiple stakeholders, I thought since DVC has a vision statement, maybe I was being asked if I supported what had been crafted by the College Strategic Planning group: Diablo Valley College continuously evolves as a learning-centered institution committed to the community it serves, to the development of our students as responsible citizens of the world, and to the positive transformation of student lives.

Convocation 2008 participantsThe answer is yes, I do believe in this vision. But then when Laury Fischer, English faculty, said to me, "I want to know YOUR vision," I realized that people wanted to know what vision I personally had for the College. It is very simple: My vision is to generate a Community that has a positive atmosphere of trust and engagement ... to enable the unleashing of creativity that will support ourselves, each other, and signature strengths of passion for student learning.

We learned last week that when one is feeling positive, options expand and so does the field of vision, allowing more options to appear.

Vision is not the sole role of one person. It emerges from interaction of the good hearts and people in the community, in the organization- an energetic collaboration of thinking and playing together to see the solutions that could work.

Vision controls our perception.

When vision is clear then passion and creativity follow.

I've been thinking about where DVC was a year ago, when I came in August. I was told that there was some "cautious optimism." Given the past history- and I acknowledge that history- I understand that statement and believe it was fair and accurate, but I held onto the word "optimistic" and read into it a feeling of "hope" - of possibilities.

So, here are just a few of the many community activities that I am celebrating having accomplished in my effort to create some trust for the college community (organization) to move forward:

  • held a day-long leadership team-building exercise for nine people entitled "Maximum Inclusion," to give those who reported to me and who would be working closely with me, an idea about how I worked
  • held a similar exercise for about 30 people in Management Council in March
  • expanded the President's Cabinet to include the presidents of the other constituent groups
  • was visible at numerous college events in drama, music, sports, art, EOPS, CalWORKS, and many student activities including ASDVC trainings
  • used a collaborative process, (following Union contracts) by inviting others to join me in the final interviews of the faculty hiring processes
  • created a collaborative process for hiring of interim managers
  • worked collaboratively with the Academic Senate on our accreditation self-study document
  • worked with the director of business services to create a more transparent budget process
  • became an active participant with the DVC Foundation
  • established a faculty-reassigned-position staff development coordinator
  • worked with the Classified Senate to send personal birthday cards to all permanent classified employees
  • wrote eight President's Messages distributed via e-mail
  • hosted, with the Academic Senate President, two "President's Teas" for faculty on tenure track
  • shaped the student ambassadors program
  • expanded Classified Appreciation Awards from one award to five in different categories, thereby recognizing the support given by people with different kinds of positions
  • hired a coordinator, Marika Hinds, to develop our Ujima Program. A work group has spent the past couple of years discussing the needs of the students, designing a program and seeking funding. Funding was secured through the Basic Skills Initiative funding process. Brenda Jerez will be the manager in charge.
  • held a massive staff appreciation day entitled "a Day at The Beach," and
  • held (with a planning team from the College), a four-day DVC leadership training exercise with 62 people from management, classified, faculty and students.

I wonder what kinds of things we'll celebrate next year? The possibilities are endless.

Some of the things our community will be working on and celebrating this next year are:
Accreditation - A constructive, positive special team visit in September meeting the recommendations from the April special team visit, thereby removing our warning status (we have 5 areas on which we are working). This is to be followed by a comprehensive visit in October that yields no surprises.
Enrollment Growth - right-sizing our growth so that it is sustainable
Maximum Inclusion - all groups, all people - including evaluating the Basic Skills needs of today's students, and integrating our instruction and student services work.

Convocation 2008 participantsLast Friday, I had a wonderful experience. I came back to work after having spent four days with 62 people from DVC. (It was exciting to have the opportunity for us to spend so much time together, without the ordinary daily pressures of work. We could focus on new ideas and get to know each other from a different perspective.) A student by the name of Michael Gong, (yes the same name as our Classified Senate Vice President, but no relation) came to see me about wanting to do an art project. We talked about his idea and I suggested to him a process of working with the Student Activities Office and the ASDVC to craft a proposal. He wanted to do a mural. Being pragmatic, I said, "Well, you might want to think about many different kinds of art. We have a number of new buildings coming on-line and some old buildings being demolished, so we would have to carefully select the place." Michael quickly responded with, "Art doesn't have to be permanent; it is a coming together of the community to do something beautiful."

This is DVC - a place where we come together to create a community where our students reach their goals, are successful in their pursuits, learn to think critically, contribute to their communities in the areas of social justice, become responsible citizens in the global community, build sustainable economic foundations, find peaceful solutions to differences, and develop positive approaches to protect our fragile environment, recognizing the connections among species and nature.

My vision is to generate a community that has a positive atmosphere of trust and engagement ... to enable the unleashing of creativity that will support ourselves, each other, and signature strengths of passion for student learning.

I am very honored to be a part of this community and to have the opportunity to work with you. Thank you, and may we all have a great year.

Judy E. Walters, Ph.D.
All College Convocation Day
August 15, 2008

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