College Trustee Candidate Interview Questions


September 2006

  1. Why are you running for College Trustee?

    I choose to run for the SMC Board four years ago because I wanted to serve in an educational setting and on a board where I could make a constructive contribution. There are currently four seats up and three of the incumbents are retiring leaving me as the only board member running for reelection. With the hiring of the new president in 2006, changes in the state funding formula and significant projects in varied stages of completion, it is important to insure the continuity of leadership. The remaining board members, administration and many staff members are counting on me to provide guidance during the upcoming transitions. And, I believe my participation on the board will continue to make a positive difference.

  2. What has been your personal involvement with education in our community?

    I have been involved with our community's education for over 20 years. As a leader in our local political community, I have actively supported bonds and parcel taxes by providing key leadership in the local campaigns. I have worked with educational leaders, both staff and community members, to move an education agenda forward by providing consultation to SMMUSD and SMC and assisting to resolve community based issues. Education is not only associated with our schools, it also takes place in many forms throughout our community providing opportunities for participation from working with service agencies to serving on boards and commissions. My Bachelor's degree is in education as is my doctorate, which I received only four years ago, I am always teaching and always learning – education is not an isolated activity.

  3. What makes you stand out among the other candidates? What special attributes, talents, and abilities will you bring to the College Board?

    I have a four year record of taking leadership and making genuine contributions on the SMC board. I came to the board as a proven community leader, known for an ability to accomplish tasks, work with diverse populations, and resolve issues. I have proven myself in many ways, such as being the only board member willing to oppose eliminating specific vocational programs (there were other approaches available) to working with the city so the college would receive 12 million dollars in redevelopment funds (with an extra $500,000 for a Green building) to ensuring that a more participatory approach was developed between administrators, faculty and staff to taking leadership in the transition to our new president, Dr. Chui Tsang.

  4. What do you feel is the number one challenge facing the College today?

    Of course, as in any large organization there are a multitude of challenges. However, today I will say the biggest challenge is insuring adequate funding. Adequate funding provides the resources to address other priorities, such as student services, faculty resources and benefits, adequate classified staff positions, transportation alternatives, and operating costs.

  5. Do you fully support the agreement negotiated for the City of Santa Monica to provide funding to the Santa Monica Malibu School District? What was your role, if any, in crafting, supporting or negotiating this agreement?

    Yes. It appeared that the differences between CEPS (and other supporters of the funding approach) and the City were not going to allow a negotiated agreement and that this issue would be decided by a ballot initiative, which many of us did not feel would be healthy for our community. Not being one to watch from the sidelines, I worked behind the scenes discussing this issue with many parties. At the time there was a liaison committee that met every two months whose membership included two elected members and top staff from the City, School and College Districts. It appeared that this committee might provide an opportunity for discussions. Typically, the City elected official chaired the meetings. The feelings between the City and School District where rather sensitive and many were concerned that the discussions would not be successful. Accordingly, I called the City Council member who had been chairing the group and asked if I could chair the upcoming meetings and facilitate discussions of the funding requests. This series of meetings that also provided opportunities for public input assisted in changing the tone of the discussions. Additionally, between meetings, many people including myself worked behind the scenes with the varied parties. I put quite a lot of time and emotional energy into this effort distinctly remembering conversations with council members up to hours before the successful vote for the funding formula.

  6. The College is facing a persistent structural operating deficit, with ongoing expenditures about $3,500,000 more than ongoing revenues. The College is using one-time funds this year to meet the shortfall. What will be your priorities over the long-term to address this issue?

    The Board is working with Dr. Tsang to change the approach to budgeting. Previously, budgets were often based on borrowing FTEs, leaving a structural deficit. The board is looking to change the philosophy behind the budget as well as to engage the campus partners in a more active role. We talk about ensuring that we have a transparent budget and process – I think we are making important strides in that direction. We are fortunate at this time to have a reserve that will provide some stability as we reevaluate our budgeting approach. This plan will involve a combination of approaches, such as growth in FTEs (but not mass of population), additional grants and revenues sources as well as looking at methods to cut current spending without cutting staff or programs. Additionally, the state has just modified its method for funding community colleges. We received one time funds this year and expect the next two years to be challenging before leveling off. It is expected that the Governor will sign the Scott bill, which establishes a new funding formula for Community Colleges that should assure more stable funding in the future.

  7. Recent changes adopted by the accrediting commission for California Community Colleges now require colleges to identify measurable student learning outcomes (SLOs) at the course, program, and institutional level. This is a large and time-intensive process. What role should the Board of Trustees play in approving and adopting SLOs at the program and institutional level?

    At SMC, we are very fortunate to have excellent faculty and administrators committed to successful learning outcomes. These individuals are involved on a state and local level. This is an area where faculty are taking a leadership role and it is an area that exemplifies participatory governance. From the SMC Academic Senate 2006-7 Adopted Objectives: “Complete stage two of the SLO project at the certificate and departmental levels. Make recommendations with regards to all SLOs including engines of assessment and Establish Program Review incentives for adoption by the Academic Senate.” The board's role is to insure SLOs are a priority, provide leadership, resources and appreciation for the hard work of the faculty and administrators.

  8. The College has a number of joint projects underway with local agencies, including a project with the School District to construct new playing fields at John Adams Middle School, a project with the City of Santa Monica to construct and operate a new Child Development Lab School at the Civic Center, a joint powers authority with the City of Malibu to build a new college campus and to meet wastewater management goals, and a proposed project with the City of Santa Monica and the YWCA to build support housing. Do you believe the College is doing enough with other agencies or not enough with other agencies? What additional areas of cooperation, if any, should the College engage in?

    There is always more to do. However, since I have been on the board, we have turned a corner in our approach to the community and are embracing local partnerships. At a time of diminishing resources, working together helps our community. With the City, School and College Districts having new leaders, it is a particularly good time for board members to encourage interaction. I am involved with the childcare programs, assisting where possible to move the program forward. I chair the JPA with the City of Malibu where we recently entered into negotiation for property; and I brought the joint project with the YWCA to the Board for their approval. I continue to meet with the Y and the City to maximize all available resources. Not noted in your question but requiring significant energy and influence was the tripartite agreement with the City of LA and Santa Monica regarding Bundy access. Bill Rosendahl, Herb Katz, Pam O'Connor and I hammered out the basics in a meeting and I ended up tasked with bringing it to fruition as a policy issue. I do want to note that I think Madison is going to be very special, filling a need in the community and serving as an alternative to driving into LA for cultural programs. A non profit is being formed to manage it and raise operational funds.

  9. Do you endorse Measure BB, the Santa Monica-Malibu School Safety and Repair (Bond) Measure on the November 7, 2006 ballot and will you actively campaign for its passage?

    Yes and Yes (this was the easiest one to answer – thanks)

  10. What is a priority concern you might have regarding the College that has not been raised?

    There are many priorities but I do want to note four: workforce development programs, campus relations, community relations and, most importantly, providing students the best possible education. Being the top transfer school is not enough. We have many good workforce development (vocational) programs and need to publicize them in addition to implementing new programs. Currently, we are doing an environmental scan to better understand our community's workforce needs. Over the last four years we have made great strides in improving relationships among the campus partners but there is still work to be done. The college has a high approval rating in our community. Unfortunately, we have pockets where community members are disappointed in our relationships. There are Sunset Park residents concerned about traffic and parking. Ocean Park, Sea Colony most specifically, is concerned about beach parking. We always need to be cognizant of our role in the community and acknowledge their important role. And, of course students must always come first. This is our most important responsibility.

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