Dear Adjunct Faculty:
Ever since my return to El Centro, I have tried to emphasize the connection between El Centro and the city of Dallas. Some of the reasons for this are obvious. For one thing, our technical programs have a natural connection to the needs of the city and its people---think of Interior and Fashion Design, our medical programs and Paralegal studies, Business, Computer Technology, and Food and Hospitality. For another, our Continuing Education/Workforce division trains every variety of first responder and a host of others who need courses or a certificate in particular skills. The Bill J. Priest Institute offers on-site occupational courses, counsels entrepreneurs, trains the workforce, and provides basic skills, instruction, and testing. Finally, a growing number of students complete general education core requirements and Associate degrees before transferring to colleges and universities in Texas and throughout the United States.
Some of these student/clients have become urban dwellers, and many more will be coming as the city continues its construction. Dallas historian, Darwin Payne, recently stated that if everything is taken into consideration, Dallas has never experienced growth that comes close to what has gone on in the past few years. Dallas’s recent maturity as an Arts District, convention destination, and Major League sports center, promises an even brighter future for the central city’s major higher education institution. Through Achieving the Dream and our aligned strategic planning, El Centro will continue to respond to the city and county’s higher education needs. I can’t think of a better reason for looking forward to the start of school in just a few days.
Beginning in the fall, El CentroCollege will commence its year-long celebration of its 45th Anniversary! We will kick off our celebration at our morningFall Convocation Programthat will be held at Eddie Dean’s Ranch House in Downtown Dallas. Our guest speaker for our Fall Convocation this year is Dr. Claudette H. Williams, our SACS liaison. SACS’ correspondence proclaims, “…where Students Are Central to Success”, so we look forward to Dr. William’s views on the ways in which our compliance and QEP work should address positive student outcome. Of course, as an Achieving the Dream and Title V College, El Centro is no stranger to promoting student success and the completion agenda. Both course success and completion are central to our mission of “Changing Lives Through Higher Education”.
As this choice of a guest speaker suggests, it is now “all SACS all the time for ECC.” The first draft of our Compliance Report is already completed, and we hope to share what has been written so far with Dr. Williams well before the final draft is due next spring. Reaccreditation is the college’s highest priority in 2011-12, so you will be hearing a good deal about it during this school year.
Throughout the summer, student demand for our classes has not dropped off at all despite predictions that the enrollment boom has run its course. On August 1st, with weeks to go,our enrollment stood at 62% of Fall 2010 with 84% of those students paid. I believe these numbers are showing the impact of our improved New Student Orientations and the centralization of Financial Aid. Watch for dramatic enrollment gains at the West Campus; flex classes and a more robust schedule of credit and continuing education offerings are added in the fall.
Our Achieving the Dream team recently submitted its plan for next year. It addresses both the improvement of student outcomes and changes in the practices that foster student success. Our goals are to increase student retention and student success (passing with an A, B, or C) in all Developmental Education courses by 2%. Apropos, ECC is discontinuing all late registration, has piloted a compulsory New Student Orientation (all new students will be oriented this way beginning Spring 2012), will continue Journey to Success, and thanks to Title V, will offer supplemental instruction in targeted courses.
El Centro has always been an exciting place to teach even more so today. Through our combined effort, we have an opportunity to change the lives of students who are diverse by any definition. If I can assist you in any way with this important mission, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Paul J. McCarthy