Sense of mistrust at Southwestern Community College

I certainly agree with Eastlaker! It is disappointing to learn of the ‘warning’ status by the Accrediting Commission. The following may be helpful: 1. “Warning” is the least severe sanction, not nearly the severity of “Probation” after the corruption scandal. It is still troubling. I think it reflects administrative systemic shortcomings rather than governance and leadership corruption that plagued the college in the past. 2. After the new board was elected, there was house cleaning and new administrators appointed. Interim president Denise Whittaker led the college team to restore full accreditation. 3. When president Nish came aboard, she had never been a college president, let alone a superintendent of a single college district. I doubt that she had (or has now) the administrative/management experience necessary to bring SWC into compliance with new and ever-evolving operational and technical expectations. 4. Reading the ‘recommendations’ of the Accrediting Commission, it seems the shortcomings are in fiscal planning, overall college planning, and other management practices. I don’t believe any of the recent presidents have been especially strong in any of these areas which require day-to-day organizational commitment and attention. 5. While I think the college has come a long way from the corrupt administration of Chopra, Alioto, Wilson, and the board that permitted and participated in it, it looks like there is quite a way to go to achieve ‘best practice’ management status. There is new fiscal leadership aboard in the last month and I trust Tim Flood will be a breath of fresh air and competence in that arena. He has a great and well-deserved reputation. 6. I think Nish is not necessarily a strong contender for the North Orange County Chancellor position and I would be surprised if she is selected. 7. The challenges the Commission’s evaluation put before SWC will mean yet another culture shift. It will be a stiff learning curve but one that is more technical in nature, instead of one that is personality-governance driven. 8. Finally, be reminded that NONE of the recommendations have anything to do with teaching and learning, which remarkably manage to continue on a high level through thick and thin. I believe that the SWC faculty are as committed to their students as any teacher could be. I also believe that the support staff are likewise committed although they may be understaffed and in need of some customer service training and encouragement. (For years, the college has relied on student workers and/or lowest-paid clerks to staff the front line counters and interact with students.) Let’s wish Southwestern College the best as everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel to meet the expectations and challenges now before the college community. Let’s also show our appreciation for this valued community resource that continues to serve the higher education needs of our region.
— February 10, 2016 3:54 p.m.