As we get closer to the end of the semester, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the excellent work you have been doing all through the year. Working together, we have come a really long way this year. Remember January 10, when we started the Spring Semester when the pandemic was at a high and the lines for testing were long in both campuses? Even prior to that, amidst falling enrollments during Fall 2021, how we courageously proposed the idea of “MJC is Free for Me” that brought the students back to the campus (not to mention, many of the other campuses in the state copied our model with limited success)? Well, all of you worked hard to bring the students back to the campus, especially, those from underrepresented communities, reaffirming your commitment to social justice and equity. In Spring 2022, our enrollments grew by 2% (FTES) and 8% (headcount) compared to prior year – a truly remarkable accomplishment as the enrollment trend across the state was downwards. All of you worked together to better the record in Fall 2022, when we increased enrollment by 13%, second highest in the State! My greetings and congratulations to each one of you for welcoming back the students to the campus!
Not only did we increase the enrollment, we saw new highs in student success as well! Success rate in mathematics, one of the key indicators of overall accomplishment, reached a ten-year high and surpassed the State average! We restructured the divisions into schools to align ourselves with student voice and expectations. Our work towards mapping our programs with CSU and UC provided better opportunity for our students to transfer and know their pathways. The guided pathways team led through these changes that transformed student lives. I am so proud to announce that two of our own, Tina Giron and Robert Stevenson, were among the 46 exemplary honorees across the state whose equity-focused work improved holistic student success – you can read more about this exemplary student success work at MJC at Celebrating Exemplary Student Support Leaders: Stories and Practical Advice from California Community College Faculty and Staff. We are already signed up to work with Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) in Spring 2023 to advance the great work done by our colleagues. Research shows that students who feel more connected to their college are likely to be retained, persist semester to semester, and graduate. MJC will move from transaction to transformation in every student contact in the upcoming year!
We have reshaped the idea of experiential learning through Advanced Creativity and Community Transformation, a collaboration between my office and the Academic Senate. Under the visionary guidance of Dr. Chad Redwing and Senate President Aishah Saleh, this initiative urges our students to solve real-life problems when they are in the classroom. Working with Lemelson – MIT, we are developing the inventive and entrepreneurial talent of college students (https://lemelson.mit.edu/inventioneducation/partners-invention-education/i3-develop-inventive-and-entrepreneurial-talents). This pathbreaking initiative is one of the few across the State and it gets our students on the pathway to invention where they may reap the benefits of the innovation economy. We have established partnerships with Frito Lays/Pepsico, Blue Diamond, Subaru University where our students can enhance their academic qualifications when they are in college. These partnerships are on top of the existing partnership with Amazon’s Career Choice Program.
We brought the campus closer to the community in a way that has not happened in many years. I was your sole representative to the Executive Committee of Stanislaus 2030, a collaboration among business, government, and civic leadership for regional economic growth (https://www.stanislaus2030.com/). I also participated in Modesto 2050, a visioning process for Modesto to ensure we can recover with an eye on equity. I am working directly with Governor Newsom’s Office of External Affairs to facilitate policy development that can help sustain our funding and enhance our relationships with business community. We were the Grand Marshall at 4th of July Parade, we participated in the Holiday Parade in Turlock for the first time and won an award, we participated in the second Holiday Parade at Modesto…the list goes on. We also brought back the Car Show to the campus. All of these efforts are aimed at bringing the campus and community together that has not happened before. My goal is to continue in the path of developing these relationships to ensure the campus and community can recognize the areas of collaboration that are mutually beneficial.
Finally, we made big strides in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The committee, although newly formed, has taken its task very seriously and started making important inroads. Keeping in line with statewide developments, the committee renamed itself as Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Accessibility (IDEAA) (https://www.asccc.org/asccc-inclusion-diversity-equity-anti-racism-and-accessibility-ideaa-tools). Although we have been celebrating diversity and inclusion at MJC in various shapes at MJC for last couple of years (PRIDE celebrations, Black History Month, Hispanic Student Conference), I am confident the newly formed committee will take the concepts to the next level to ensue every student connects with the campus and feels that they belong here.
We have accomplished a lot this year working together. Our work is hardly finished. We will focus on improving success and retention in the upcoming year. We will continue to improve our relationship with the community. We will open up more real-life learning opportunities for students by bringing the business and community closer to the campus. We will continue to invest in zero-cost textbook to make college more affordable (we already saved over $3 million in this initiative). However, for now, take some well-earned time to spend with your family and friends. Enjoy the season of joy, giving, and happiness. Spare a thought for those who may not be as fortunate. I look forward to seeing each one of you in the new year, rejuvenated!
I am humbled and proud to be your President!