Goals to improve campuses around the district

Melissa Conser

The South Orange County Community College District has issued 8 goals in an effort to improve all of campuses in a variety of ways.

First and foremost among the goals is to, “develop a plan to meet all capital and scheduled maintenance needs.”

The district has taken steps beyond those of other colleges basic scheduled maintenance with projects such as the LEED certified ATEP campus. However, examples on each campus can be found of buildings that could use maintenance.

Instances of faulty maintenance on Saddleback College campus have been prevalent in buildings such as BGS.

As described in a previous news article in the Lariat by Joseph Espiritu, it has been, “a little over a year since [its re-opening] after an approximated $8-million overhaul spanning almost 18-months to fix structural problems and excessive mold build-up, the Business General Studies building is once again undergoing construction. Moisture found in concrete slabs forming the flooring of the first level of the BGS building was first noted around the beginning of the 2009 fall semester. Safety cones bordering bare slabs and uplifted vinyl flooring can be seen throughout the first floor.”  

It has been suggested that the cause of the leaks was over-watering the plants surrounding the building.

In an interview with Saddleback President, Tod Burnett, conducted by Tim White in a previous Lariat article, Burnett offered his opinion on maintenance.  

“In the past, maintenance has been performed on a reactive basis, rather than taking a long-term approach,” Burnett said. “The goal is to become more efficient on our management of facilities infrastructures.”

When he first began at Saddleback as President he “found that we have an enormous [unfunded] scheduled maintenance backlog of about $115 million.”

The second goal is to, “acquire, develop, and utilize technologies that support data-driven decisions and ongoing accountability.”

“Ideally when you make decisions you should make them based on evidence,” said Robert Bramucci, Vice Chancellor of Technology and Learning Services.

To make data-driven decisions the district has designed their own Data Wearhouse called inForm.  It reports on enrollment, grade distribution and students information based on each class. Student information includes- male to female ratio, ethnicity, age, and the amount of hours a student works a week.

The program is currently only being used by faculty and administrators, as it helps instructors to cater to their individual class needs based on statistics. Administrators must turn these reports over annually to the state.  

“Before only administrators would look at these reports now it is something useful for instructors,” said Bramucci.

Instructors reaction to inForm has been positive “A lot of people were saying they’ve never seen this before,” said Denise Inciong, Director of Research and Planning.  “We want to build more metrics into [inForm] to help the faculty teach the courses that they want to teach better.”

Plans to provide student access to inForm and build reports geared towards students’ interests is in the works.
 
“We are working with Microsoft to make this useful to students as well,” said Bramucci.  “It will be used as an application on mysite.”

In a Microsoft sponsored booth, Bramuccci recently presented inForm at a convention in Denver with Jim Gaston, Associate IT Director of SOCCCD.

Bramucci is open to the idea of selling inForm to other schools.

“Why help 400,000 peoples lives when you can help 4 million?” Bramucci said.  “We’ve had big companies come and talk to us not about the products we make but how we make them because it’s pretty cutting-edge.”

If the district decides to begin marketing inform, the profit from selling the software would go into a foundation used for software products to benefit students.

Goal three is to, “complete the production and implementation of the Student Information System, including effective training and backup procedures for the registration process.”

According to Jim Gaston, Associate IT Director of SOCCCD, “SIS is the primary computer system that enables the administrative side of the college.  It includes modules such as student registration, bursars, core records, class scheduling, matriculation, etc.  The small part that students see is MySite – SIS is the core set of systems that allows MySite to provide services to students.”

“The single biggest piece of software that any college has is the student information system.  We made our own in this district and we thinks its cutting-edge,” said Bramucci.  “We’re really ahead of most other community colleges.”

“We wanted to continue to provide innovative services (such as MySite and MAP) to our students and we felt that building our own SIS would enable us to do that,” said Gaston. 

“The project was originally scheduled to be complete by the end of June 2010 and at this point we are actually ahead of schedule.”

The fourth goal is to, “develop and implement comprehensive emergency preparedness plans and a disaster recovery plan for information technology services.”

Disaster recovery or Business Continuity Planning as the district refers to it, comes down to one question as Bramucci explains, “how do we keep business going?”

If disaster were to strike an SOCCCD campus there must be a plan to recover data- for instance student’s grades.  In order to protect data, everything that is saved to servers on campus is backed up to servers off campus.

To meet goal 4, the district is looking for a place away from California’s fault line to back up servers to in case of earthquake. 

“Even if there’s a disaster you still have the resources you need,” said Bramucci.
Fifth on the list of district wide goals is to, “assess all administrative units and develop and implement action plans to increase efficiency, effectiveness, electronic security, and cost savings.”

Despite cuts, “the Board has chosen not to seek additional taxes in the form of “bond” measures because residents are already paying more. This funding source of between $40 and $50 million per year SOCCCD planned ahead to the inevitable “rainy day” of the economic downturn now occurring in the State of California,” said Chancellor Raghu Mathur in SOCCCD’s 08-09 annual report. 
 
“The vitality of our three campuses can be seen in new building construction, renovation projects, sustainability initiatives, state of the art technology and equipment, expanding online infrastructure, and new academic and career technical programs with focus on student success. While the state economy is in crisis and regional economic indicators are trending downward, our district is hiring new faculty and finalizing the long term development plans for ATEP.”  

Goal six is to, “establish a legacy in environmental sustainability in all areas including instruction, operations, construction, facilities, energy conservation, and stewardship.”
With the new Advanced Technology and Environmental Planning, commonly referred to as ATEP, campus in which all buildings are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.  LEED is run by the U.S Green Building Council. According to their website, their objectives include, “Lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”

Seventh in the list of goals it to, “enhance online certificate/degree programs and the accompanying online student support services.”

Achievement of this goal is directly related to that of the second and third goal.
The eight
and final goal is to, “assess the degree to which the colleges are aligning educational programs with community needs in order to offer relevant academic and career technical education programs.”

In order provide efficient and modern technical education programs one avenue SOCCCD has taken is participating in the VTEA or Perkins survey.

“Approximately $400,000 is divided between Saddleback College and Irvine.  Saddleback has more students, so therefore receives most of the money. The funds also provide money for professional development for current, up-to-date learning,” explains Kayla Sallee’s news article for the Lariat about the VTEA.

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