Archives: Opening Day and Message from the President
Dear Skyline Campus Community,
As we begin a new academic year, I would like to reflect on our experiences and work this past year, and set the stage for what is ahead for us as a campus community.
Where We’ve Been
Our 2020-2021 academic year was full of contrast. We accomplished and gained so much more than we could have imagined in a pandemic and yet we faced enormous loss. We deeply connected as a community, and although we were apart, and in isolation; we were strong, tenacious, resilient, and clear about our student-driven mission; all in the face of being grossly challenged by uncertainty and ambiguity. Despite the unusual experience of extreme contrasts this last year, we made it through. We were tough. We were flexible. We checked-in with each other. We took care of each other. We had each other’s backs. We cried together. We prayed together. We supported each other. We were a team, in the greatest sense both unimaginable and unfathomable new experiences. We pursued excellence despite the new terrain with so much love and humility; all the while keeping our students first, and at the forefront of our motivation. This is why students choose us. This is who we are. Welcome to the Skyline College family!
We beautifully cemented a foundation to move through whatever comes next, together. We are prepared to flex, as the world of relentless external forces attempt to disrupt our path. We have what it takes to build upon what we have started this past year as an adaptive community, as a team. Nothing can stop us! And so, I thank you and congratulate you for everything you did this last year to serve our students and community. Every single person contributed in a meaningful and exceptional way to make up the whole of who we are at Skyline College. Our groundskeepers and custodians, our public safety and facilities teams, our classified professionals and faculty, our managers and administrators, our instructional and student support teams, our District partners, all came together in service of our students. I see you. I appreciate you. I thank you.
Where We’re Headed
We also worked hard to set the stage for what is up next. I spent this last year listening carefully to you and gained a much deeper understanding of where you would like to go as a campus community. Here’s what I learned:
- We need to rid ourselves of this “secret society” feel to our governance;
- We need to greatly improve the relationship across constituent groups with the Administration, but especially with faculty;
- We need much greater transparency in our decision-making and committee work;
- We need open and regular communication from the President and the Cabinet;
- We need to be more inclusive and equitable;
- We need to sustain engagement with our community of supporters and stakeholders;
- We need to improve our campus climate and create a lasting and sustainable culture of democracy and participatory governance;
- We need greater transparency in our processes and, in particular, with our budgets and integrated college planning;
- We need cohesive and coordinated equity and antiracism efforts that everyone is involved and included in;
- We need to assess our Comprehensive College Redesign work and address persistent barriers and opportunity gaps for our most marginalized student groups.
There’s so much work to be done!
We got a head start on this work during the last year and laid an important foundation for reshaping our participatory governance structure, college planning, and antiracism and equity work. Here’s what we did:
- We adopted an integrated planning and resource allocation model , and started training with the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) – as we embark on revising our Educational Master Plan this fall;
- We reformed our College Governance Council (CGC) to remove the vote of the President and her Cabinet in order to honor the true purpose of CGC as a recommending body to the President. No more double-dipping!
- We also recognized our Management Council as a constituency group, and created seats on CGC for our managers;
- We also opened CGC to the entire campus community and had more participation than ever;
- We adopted the Intergroup Dialogue model as the basis for our antiracism and equity work, and began training the community in how to listen and have constructive dialogue. Our intention is to reach a critical mass of campus community training and to conduct dialogues on difficult subjects;
- We released the McPhail Report , and completed the work of the “Climate Review Work Group” to bring forth the valuable recommendations to CGC in that report;
- We hosted an incredibly successful President’s Breakfast that engaged our community raised $100,000!
- We adopted a Participatory Governance Model , and completed the work of the Participatory Governance Work Group to revise and simplify our structure and compendium
People’s College Initiative (PCI)
The People’s College Initiative was born as a framework to address the challenges identified during my listening tour, while building upon the foundation work we began last year. The Statewide Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI) invited us to submit a letter of interest. As such, I submitted the concept of the People’s College Initiative, and it was accepted. Please read the Letter of Interest starting on page 18 of our CGC agenda packet of May 19, 2021 . What this means for us is that we are preparing to welcome a Partnership Resource Team (PRT) from the State Chancellor’s Office this fall. The PRT will help guide us through the initiative, and grant us $200,000 to accomplish these goals. The Chancellor’s Office is interested supporting initiatives that might be of benefit to other colleges in the State and so they are hopeful this could become a model for other colleges.
Here’s the concept in a nutshell:
- PCI focuses on creating a healthy college and workplace experience through a robust participatory governance process that people trust and believe in, resulting in open and transparent decision-making a way of life at Skyline College;
- We want to create an antiracist and equitable culture that embraces campus wide training, practice and action toward becoming an antiracist college;
- We will engage in regular climate reviews in order to measure our transformation in becoming a true institution of the people, for the people.
We will be working together to fully flesh out the PCI concept to norm participatory governance, equity and antiracism activity, and regular climate review. We did some work along these lines with our constituent group leadership this summer to prepare for the PRT visit. My goal is to cement a democratic culture and healthy climate that will sustain evolving and inevitable change in leadership. In addition, this initiative will ultimately support the greater goal of ensuring a democratic and civically-engaged classroom experience for our students. Until we get this right for ourselves, we cannot get it right for our students.
Here’s where you come in: I need your support and help to bring these changes to our college community. College Governance Council will be authorizing a number of work groups to tackle the work of implementing the PCI. We want each and every one of you to be involved, because this is about you, and about us, and about how we work together to shape our future. There will be lots of communication about the PCI and the opportunities for your involvement early in the fall semester. Your voice matters, and I encourage you to join us.
I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be your President, entering our second year together, and doing this wonderfully transformative work with you! We will continue to work with the District to do our best to bring us safely together in-person again. But let’s not forget to remain flexible and adaptable in an ever-changing landscape of this persistent pandemic.
A heartfelt welcome back to fall semester!
Dr. Melissa Moreno
President of Skyline College
As the new President of Skyline College, you can imagine the excitement I feel getting to know you - the students, faculty, classified professionals, administrators, and community. I feel like a freshman student - everything is new and unfamiliar, and yet there is a marvelous anticipation of all that is yet to be discovered! At the same time, I am deeply humbled and privileged to have been chosen as your new President, and I step into this role with profound gratitude for the work of my predecessors.
I want to honor and recognize the incredible work of Dr. Jannett Jackson. She accomplished so much in this past year to address some critical objectives: greater transparency, examination of our participatory governance process, investment in professional development, a commitment to our comprehensive redesign, and the successful completion of the accreditation process.
Let me assure you, my support of these and other active initiatives will continue, and I want to thank those of you who have participated and contributed in furthering these goals during this past year.
I have spent a very busy month of July visiting with my executive team, meeting classified leadership and faculty leadership, getting to know Chancellor Claire and his cabinet, meeting the Board of Trustees, and relocating from Santa Barbara to the Bay Area! This is a remarkable college community, rich with opportunity and talent, which means you made the absolute right decision to join the Skyline College family – whether you are a student or employee. Every person I have met at Skyline College is incredibly knowledgeable with prodigious expertise, dedicated, has a strong work ethic and a passion to focus on students, to help, to serve, and elevate student success. What an amazing college!
I bring to Skyline College a vision to ignite a spirit of authentic collaboration. While we center everything we do around a “students first” philosophy, I intend to unite us in building a much sturdier foundation of trust and lasting relationships, so that we can work better together, and free ourselves to truly empower and transform students, and allow us to focus more keenly on our key initiatives to bring about student success.
I share Skyline College’s core values and goals, and this year, bring a focus on listening from the heart, caring for others, and an emphasis on connecting with each other given the challenges we face today.
This year, we embark on a new chapter, as we come off the heels of our 50th Anniversary, and enter our second half century with the enormous and unprecedented challenge of a pandemic. We will be shaped, in part, by this health crisis, and learn lessons we never imagined. This “new normal” of remote interaction wears thin at times, I know. We need to press on regardless and lift each other up when we feel discouraged. The occasional live, yet virtual, interaction is important to feel and stay connected. We would be lost without virtual meetings, so hang in there!
We will continue to address the deep injustices facing our communities of color, and have made staunch commitments and taken firm action to dismantle racism in our college structures and practices, to ensure that our black students and colleagues can be safe at Skyline College, and pursue their college and career dreams. Skyline College uniquely sets the example in our District, in the State, and across the nation, with its innovative and disruptive approaches to inculcate anti-racist practices in everything we do. I am so proud of this resilient determination and join you in this effort with humility. I commit to you, as a strong ally, to use my position of power and privilege to support anti-racist actions and changes across our structures and classrooms, as we continue the work to reach our most minoritized students, and lift barriers to their success.
I am looking forward to the year before us, and have observed a few key areas in need of focus this year:
- We will be working to build trust and caring relationships across the college. I have spoken to so many who feel trust has been lost, and yet everyone is fully on board to work on this and support this effort;
- We will continue the work already started to create a stronger commitment to transparency and shared decision-making. I think of participatory governance as a way to hear and consider all voices before major college decisions are made. We don’t have to agree necessarily, but we all want to be heard and feel our point of view has been genuinely considered. We will infuse participatory governance into our decision-making practices across the college.
- Finally, we will continue to dismantle institutional practices that interrupt our anti-racism efforts. We will continue to examine our hiring practices, our curriculum, our pedagogies, our meeting practices, and seek to change how we do business and teach in the classroom, to ensure we stay true to our commitment to be an anti-racist institution. We will also continue our practice of offering caring spaces to our communities of color who continue to be harmed by current events. We will integrate allyship training to develop a daily practice of de-centering the privileged voice and amplify the voices of the oppressed.
Because this pandemic is so persistent, look for a series of virtual meet and greet opportunities with me throughout the fall semester. I want us to get to know each other, even if through a screen.
I hope you all have a successful semester, despite these trying times. And, in the spirit of authentic collaboration, I am here to support you, serve you, and work with you throughout the year.
Dr. Melissa Moreno
President of Skyline College