Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The July meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees (guest reported by DD)

“There is nothing reportable from the closed session.”
     See Tere's Board Meeting Highlights.
     In the absence of Roy Bauer tonight (who was doubtless home enjoying the first evening of the Republican National Convention), your guest blogger attempted to take notes during the Board of Trustees meeting. My purpose is to imitate Roy’s style and humor, however inadequately, to convey his sense of boredom at appropriate times, and to give the reader a general sense of what went on.

     6:30 – Board members slowly assemble, taking their seats; Acting Chancellor Debra Fitzsimons takes her place on the dais. The meeting is called to order. Trustee James Wright prays for policemen across the country and for rain. Someone leads the pledge. There’s background drama here, given Roy’s notes on DTB concerning what items might be discussed in closed session. It is, after all, summer, and often times dramatic events occur on college campuses in the summer in the general absence of faculty and students.

     The drama unfolds. Trustee Tim Jemal asks Trustee David Lang to report on what transpired during the closed session. A pause. Then, Lang leans into the microphone and says,

     “There is nothing reportable from the closed session.”

     The drama is, indeed, sucked from the room.

 Dr. Chris McDonald, once Dean of Mathematics, Science and Engineering and lately Assistant VP for Institutional Effectiveness who was recently transferred from Saddleback to IVC. He is described by the first speaker as “the victim of lies being perpetuated by people on this campus” (youch); she states that he is not a bully, and is loved by his colleagues. The second faculty member concurs with the description of Chris, and adds that he is a man of honesty and integrity, a person who can admit his mistakes and apologize for them. He asks the board to carefully reconsider McDonald’s reassignment. The third faculty speaker concurs with the remarks about Chris McDonald’s character, and states that, as assessment time nears, Saddleback has been left “with a dent in our Standard 4.” (That’s assessment talk. I’m withholding the names of the speakers, given the passion of the comments. Of course, you could just watch the video.) The final speaker also compliments outgoing Chancellor Gary Poertner as “a man of integrity, a man who tried to solve problems” and says that the SOCCCD is “a better place because he was here.”
K. Street
   PUBLIC COMMENTS. Sometimes, though, moments of perceived resolution are the best moments for unexpected plot turns. Three Saddleback College faculty members step to the microphone for public comments. Since this is on the public record, here goes. The first two faculty members express support for

     Thus end the public remarks. Board reports follow, brought to you in an extremely abbreviated form. Tim Jemal echoes the previous speakers comments about GP and promises a “transparent search process” for a permanent Chancellor that will look for “the best and brightest across the nation.” (If true, this threatens to upstage the current national political process.) T.J. Prendergast echoes the Poertner comments and says something about his recent appearance on Laguna Woods television. Barbara Jay thanks Poertner and noted her visit to the IVC Foundation retreat. James Wright echoed the GP comments (there’s a lot of that) and spoke at length about a new electric car facility at Saddleback. David Lang departed from the standard Board report remarks to comment about the recent violence against police; he thanked local police and public officials for working hard to address this situation. Marcia Milchiker and Terri Whitt echo the GP comments. Student trustee Johnathan Ford comments on how Poertner always wanted to know more about our students.

T. Huntley

     The College Presidents are absent tonight. VP Linda Fontanilla gives the report for IVC, offering a thanks to GP and telling an anecdote about Poertner understanding the importance of student equity. She introduces Lt. John Meyer as a new member of IVC’s campus police, and congratulates Glenn R. on being a keynote speaker at a recent UCI event on cooperation between local businesses and IVC, UCI, and the IUSD.

     Kathy Werle, VP for Instruction at Saddleback, subs for Todd. She states that Saddleback will look forward to working with Debra, notes that Todd is in Sacramento and that Saddleback is receiving a reward for its veterans’ program. She suggests that we have an opportunity to see “Little Shop of Horrors” on the Saddleback campus. (Note: I’m fairly certain that statement has nothing to do with the public comments.) Oh, and they have a busy fall orientation week planned.

     There are no Board requests for reports.

     The main event of the evening seems to be the presentation and unpacking of the Student Success Scorecard for SC and IVC—an event that I’m sure Roy regrets missing, knowing his deep and abiding affection for all things assessment. Unfortunately, as the speakers introduce themselves, horrible microphone static (the result of either divine lightning striking the building or an underperforming audio system) makes the first speaker’s name undecipherable. After a careful internet search however that provided a name and a picture, I was able to identify her as Denice Inciong, District Director, Research, Planning & Data Management. She is joined by Jennifer Klein, Director of Planning, Research and accreditation at Saddleback, and her IVC counterpart Craig Hayward. The scorecard covers six metrics, measuring student progress and completion, and disaggregated by student demographic categories. If you want to see details, go to

The scorecard reports on a number of items for both colleges and for the State of California community college system from 2010 to 2015: completion, momentum (students who complete 30 units…we seem to be edging into physics here), persistence, math remedial progress, English remedial progress, ESL remedial progress, and CTE completion rate. Overall, IVC beats the State of CA rates in 6 of 8 categories and has a completion rate of 62%--15% above the state average! SC beats the State in 7 of 8 categories and has a completion rate of 59%. (Now, wait a minute—we beat the state, but are these good numbers? How happy would we be if we received a 62% on an exam? Or with a cell phone that worked 59% of the time. I mean, really.)

     The most potentially entertaining statistic is a new “skills builder” (!) stat that compares the difference in a student’s wages a year before they took CTE courses and a year after they took CTE courses.

     The Board is all over this with questions. Marcia M wants to know how we get information on wages, and why the State seems to have the information by only shares the summary. Tim Jemal has a rousing conversation with Craig H. that seems to go something like this: “Blah blah blah blah?” “Blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog? (Arrested Development reference) Blah Blah, blah blah.

     David Lang, who has been paying attention, asks great questions: It’s great that we’re beating state averages but, given our demographics, how are we doing against comparable colleges? How are we setting our own goals for these numbers, and where are our own goals on the presentation? Why in the world does the State want to track CTE students who take one or two classes—and their salaries? How can we tell that there is any causation between the classes and the salary increases? Why does the counselor to student ratio at Saddleback seem out of whack? Answers: We’re in the top ten in the state in completion metrics. We can do that in more detail. They’re in the annual strategic plan. There’s not a good answer to that one. We need to dig down in our data and explore that issue.

     The consent calendar comes up for a vote…the resolutions (5.2) and three additional items (5.12, 5.13, and 5.14) are pulled and dealt with separately. All are unanimously approved, including: a resolution lauding GP’s years of service to the district, his financial management of SOCCCD, and wishing him a happy second retirement; a resolution expressing sympathy upon the loss of former State Senator Marian Bergeson and applauding her career (

     First general action item, the SOCCCD 2017-18 Academic Calendar, is unanimously approved (!) and is complimented by Trustee Wright. The crowd begins to thin out as we get to other items and, eventually, I think, on to other reports. So, as Roy would say, I’m outta here!

* * *

"Echoes." That's OC-speak for
Sound familiar? Melania Trump echoes Michelle Obama in Republican Convention speech (OC Reg)
Tommy Vietor, a former national security spokesman for President Barack Obama, said the similarity was "pretty egregious."


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dan, for your assessment. The Chris M. issue has undermined confidence by a number of administrators in how Saddleback is being run.

Gary will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Typically if a Dean or Administrator does not pan out then that person uses retreat rights and is assigned a faculty position. Howard Gensler for example. So why push IVC into hosting the new guy?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for attending the meeting and recording its events in an equally witty fashion. I applaud the brave souls who spoke out in support of CM but it is too bad that there is not more of an uproar from both campuses regarding process and how and why such a transfer was made.

Anonymous said...

"So why push IVC into hosting the new guy?" Saddleback never hired Howard Gensler. He was pushed on US. Let's make a deal: give us back Chris, and you can have Howard back - NO problem.

Roy Bauer said...

Gensler arrived at Saddleback untenured. We were amazed when, a few years later, he became tenured. What, we asked, are the folks at SC thinking, if anything?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for continued coverage. Better than the RNC!!!!

Anonymous said...

Very sick about what Tod did to Chris. Actually disgusted.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't Tod. Chris asked to transfer.

Anonymous said...

Dear July 22,
It was Tod. Chris was forced to "ask" for the transfer. There is a very sordid backstory to this. Hopefully it will come out soon.

Roy Bauer said...

3:11 - is the episode to which you refer a or the reason for Burnett's low standing among trustees (if such is the case, as we hear it is)?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I can only say that you are on the right page. However, Tod is not in such low standing with the entire board. And therein lies the problem. Tod's behavior has been questionable and yes that's pretty much the basis for this.

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