President Burnett’s “Top 10” focus on student success

Kaylee Johnston

Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett described his top ten projects for 2013-14 in his annual State of the College Address, focusing on creating a plan for enrollment management, backed by a proposed Student Success committee, strategic planning, economic and workforce development and budgeting.  

The enrollment management efforts, led by newly appointed Vice President of instruction Dr. Kathy H. Werle, are a planning process imperative in creating worthwhile courses and programs.

“There’s a lot of work that we’re doing around just making sure that the courses are scheduled at student-friendly times — that we’re utilizing the room and the space that we’ve got ultimately,” Werle said. “Because we’re a large college, we offer a full breadth of programs and courses so that there should always be something that students can select that’s going to help them toward their goals.”

The efforts not only impact student success and interest, but are also going to directly impact the school’s fiscal situation.  

Enrollment management will help guide us strategically  to better support student success, maintain the quality of our programs and services, and ensure better fiscal sustainability,” Burnett said. “When I talk about enrollment management, it’s something we’ve never done before, and something we need to do in order for us to have a better coordinated plan in strategy for how we schedule classes, and provide classes to make it as helpful for students as possible.”

To follow up on last year’s goals mentioned in the Sacramento Student Success Task Force recommendations, Burnett is building a Student Success committee. This Academic Senate has been working on the proposal for the Student Success committee over the last year based on recommendations they built with the help of the college community. This proposal, led by Bruce Gilman, will be brought to the floor at the consultation meeting on Tuesday.

“Once that’s approved, we will determine how that’s going to be implemented going forward,” Burnett said. ” We will incorporate it in our upcoming strategic planning, enrollment management and economic and workforce development efforts to improve student success at all levels.”

In order to further maintain student success, Burnett is developing a recommended high school partnership program in the Capistrano Unified School District and Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Although it is currently focused around the public schools, private schools will also be subject to possible programs in this high school partnership.  

“The student success task force recommendations from Sacramento, one of them was that we need to have better relationships, partnerships, cooperation, coordination and collaboration with our K-12, which includes, of course, high schools, ” Burnett said.        

Another large focus for the 2013-14 year is the economic and workforce development that Burnett is using as a means of creating the “model program” for community colleges in California. This development is going to be focused around the institution altogether rather than each student separately.

“Economic and workforce development is a big project,” Burnett said. “Right now we can’t find any other community college in California that has what anybody would consider a “model comprehensive program.” We want to basically have a plan with our  college folks in the business and industry to work with them to come up with them what they think would be the ideal program for us here to have better ties with workforce.”

This project is going to follow all aspects of economic and workforce acheivement, from integration of the career center with career placement, to different programs receiving the resources nece
ssary to help students acquire jobs.

Although the students are the focus of the top ten projects, faculty emergency training is also becoming a focus of the year. This proposed training is to be headed by newly-permanent police chief, Chris Wilkinson.

“We’ve also, since last year, been working with the faculty, the academic senate and our faculty association to come up with how we want to go forward,” Burnett said. “The big thing is we have to determine what is the actual training that we would like every faculty member to have, and once we get that established we’ll go out there and provide the opportunities for the faculty to get that training and support.”    

The strategic plan, a recurring subject in the annual State of the College Address, is being developed as an adjoining project with the district’s strategic plan. The six-year strategic plan will be a subject of future meetings to determine the ultimate goals that have yet to be disclosed.    

“We’re integrating [the six-year plan] with our district-wide planning, and so far we are at the goal setting stage, which is the high-level strategic direction stage,” Burnett said.

The top ten, although a compilation of the school’s ultimate goals, is just an outline containing many underlying programs and goals of the year.  

“This is important,” Werle said. “It’s important to the college, and it’s important to our students.”


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