President Burnett announces goals in annual speech

President Tod Burnett poses at the Saddleback fountain located in the quad by the SSC building. (Lariat archives)

Sarah Black

The president of Saddleback College, Dr. Tod A. Burnett, has listed the top ten projects to improve Saddleback he would like to finish in the 2010-2011 school year.

The projects were addressed in his second Annual State of the College, and among them are reaffirming accreditation, raising money for scholarships, implementing a 2010-2013 strategic plan, and continuing construction and maintenance.

The library should be finished and ready to go by fall semester 2012, said Burnett, although the construction should be complete as soon as next summer, according to Project Engineer Josh Maes. The 40-year-old library will be “completely renovated,” said Burnett. “It will be upgraded to meet the needs of Saddleback students.”

Along with library construction, President Burnett is adding another construction project for Saddleback’s campus. A design for a new science building is on Burnett’s list. The building will include all science classes with updated lab equipment. “We desperately need it,” he said. The new science building will be located in the lots next to the library, Burnett said.

Burnett is also seeking to raise another $220,000 for the Osher Scholarship Match in order to reach next year’s target of a $1.34 million endowment for Saddleback students. These scholarships can be applied to a variety of students ranging from veterans to awards for community service.

Another big ticket item of Burnett’s list is reaffirming accreditation. Having Saddleback accredited will help keep in tact Saddleback’s reputation and will qualify Saddleback students to move on to higher education, specialized institutions, or professional practice, according to the Accreditation 2010 Information Guide.

Accreditation must be done every six years and from October 18-21 an Accreditation Team, filled with administers and faculty from other colleges, will be coming to evaluate Saddleback College. A review after the grading process will be given and made available to the public.

While all of the projects are important to Burnett, Accreditation is “#1” on his list. For the past year, Burnett and his staff have been working on the “Self Study Report,” which is now one full inch thick.

Saddleback’s mission statement tells the Accreditation Team what Saddleback‘s intentions for its students are and just how they will make these intentions come about. Saddleback is required to state their school values, among them “commitment,” “academic freedom,” and “success.”

“I am confident that our college’s accreditation will be affirmed with flying colors,” said Burnett. “We have a talented faculty who are committed and extremely devoted,” he said.

Dr. Bob Cosgrove, English teacher at Saddleback and co-chair of Accreditation Self Study Steering Committee, said accreditation is mandated by federal authorities. Reaffirming accreditation is to ensure the stability of the school as well as to ensure classes are sound academically, he said.

Students have already been directly involved by the accreditation process, Cosgrove said. His committee makes an effort to be invited to student government meetings to explain the important of accreditation, especially in terms of students transfer and work, he said.

Burnett acknowledged much of his team’s work in helping last year’s improvements including governance groups, classified staff, and his management team, who are all helping him with this year’s projects as well.

Final projects include reaching out to Saddleback alumni for support, developing its new management team, finding more jobs for students, and producing an education and facilities master plan.

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