Leadership needed on Campus

Editorial Board

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The Institute for Higher Education & Leadership Policy at Cal State Sacramento recently finished its six-year-study tracking 250,000 students from California’s 112 Community Colleges. The report, released Oct. 19, found that 70 percent of students seeking degrees at California’s community colleges did not manage to attain them or transfer to four-year universities within six years.

Furthermore, 85 percent of those students eventually dropped out entirely, according to the study.

“The findings point to a troubled college system that needs drastic revamping,” said study coauthor Nancy Shulock, executive director of the Higher Education Institute.

The study shows how California community college administrations should be encouraged to “improve data collection about enrollment patterns and student progress,” said Los Angeles Times reporter, Carla Rivera.

The question to ask is “who is to blame” and “what is to be done?”
Community college administrations should be carefully looked at first.

As revealed by San Jose City College’s own hierarchy, the students aren’t the only transient community college group. SJCC has moved through a number of chancellors, college presidents, interim presidents, and numerous deans. As an exemplary figure of Cal State Sacramento’s report, when strong leadership is not shown on campus, overall focus on direction of the campus is lost.

Students don’t have clear focus “with a lack of sustained leadership on campus,” said SJECCD Chancellor Rita Cepeda in a press conference held by the City College Times on Nov. 8.

In the last ten years, SJCC and Evergreen Valley College has seen seven chancellors including Geraldine Evans, Sylvia Andrews, Michael Hill, Rosa Perez, Jeanine Hawk, Doug Treadway and currently Rita Cepeda.

Additionally, eight college presidents, interim presidents, and acting presidents have come and left SJCC in that same amount of 10 years. This list includes Chui Tsang, Leo Chavez, Elaine Burns, Tim O’Hare, Jess Carreon, Michael Burke, Arturo Reyes, and current Interim President Doug Treadway, according to SJCC Secretary of the President, Isabel Macias.
The most important component in the success of a community college is the quality of the actual community.

What SJCC and all other California community colleges desperately need is a leader willing to spearhead a vast realignment of educational goals. A new criteria for student achievement is necessary and strong leadership must be visible in order for students to strive for success.