Strengthening bridges for student success one program at a time

Nine months of work and he is only getting started at SJCC


Photo Provided by René Alvarez, Dean of Academic Success & Student Equity

Dean of Academic Success and Student Equity René Alvarez next to Jaggy the Jaguar, during the week-long SJCC centennial celebration.

The Dean of Academic Success and Student Equity at San Jose City College René Alvarez has worked in higher education for approximately 12 years.

It started when Alvarez received an opportunity to teach criminal justice courses and open education centers in Afghanistan for the United States Marine Corps.

Alvarez said that it began with a six-month contract but because of his love for what he was doing it extended for two-years.

“I love the work so much that I decided to go on to higher education full-time,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez started his journey at SJCC in the year of 2021 and he has a plan to help students.

“It’s critical for me to really understand the student population, design and provide services that help alleviate those burdens,” Alvarez said. “That way we provide the environment and set the stage for them (students) to be succesful.”

Alvarez, along with other constituents, helps enhance student services offered at SJCC.

One service he has collaborated with is the EOP & S program. It is funded by the state to assist low-income students, who have an educational disadvantage, achieve their academic goals, according to the SJCC website.

He has also collaborated with the PUENTE Project that helps students with educational disadvantages receive proper preparation for academic success, according to the SJCC website.

UMOJA (meaning unity in Kiswahili), a program that enhances African American and other students’ cultural and educational experiences, according to SJCC website, is something Alvarez is working alongside as well.

The San Jose Milpitas Extension program is also a program he has worked jointly with. This program creates shorter academic pathways to receive a degree for students, according to the Milpitas Extension program.

“My main goal is to create as many care contact points for our students.” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said he wants students to feel a connection to the campus, to other students and SJCC faculty members.

Alvarez mentioned the support of the VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Elizabeth Pratt, the VP of Student Services William Garcia as well as SJCC President Rowena Tomaneng.

“She (President Tomaneng) has offered her insights and guidance and has allowed me to produce the things that we need to do,” Alvarez said, “and she has given me the resources to do that.”

Alvarez also mentioned the importance of having their (SJCC Faculty) support.

“You won’t be successful without the support of senior leadership, and institutional investment,” Alvarez said. “The senior leadership has provided the resources and the solid foundation for those things to be achieved.”

Tomaneng, who has also helped Alvarez by providing resources, wrote, “Despite being only at SJCC for nine months, Dr. Alvarez has had several accomplishments that are already making an impact on our Jaguar community.”

Alvarez said that for the first month or two his strategy was to have one-on-one meetings with as many people (faculty, staff and students) as he could.

“His collaborative style and commitment to student equity and student success invites students and employees alike to work on projects with him,” Tomaneng wrote. “I especially appreciate Dr. Alvarez’s inclusion of student voices in campus governance and projects.”

Alvarez also shared advice for students that will return to SJCC for the spring 2022 semester.

“Ask for help if you need it,” Alvarez said. “We are here to serve you.”