Welcome to Fall Quarter 2007 & Opening Day Information

September 18, 2007

Dear Colleagues,

I'm writing to invite you to the district and college Opening Day events, as we anticipate the arrival of students and the beginning of the fall quarter next week. The Campus Center has just reopened, the Registration & Student Services Building and Bookstore are bustling with students, and we're putting the finishing touches on new lighting and pathways, new classrooms and technology--all awaiting the new academic year.

District Opening Day is this Thursday, Sept. 20, at the Smithwick Theatre on the Foothill College campus, beginning with breakfast at 8 a.m. Chancellor Martha Kanter recently sent out information regarding District Opening Day, and we look forward to seeing everyone there.

Our own De Anza College campus Opening Day is the next day, Friday the 21st. We will gather at 8 a.m. for breakfast on the Hinson Campus Center patio, with our program to begin at 8:30. Following the morning meeting, we will have a collegewide lunch prior to division and department meetings in the afternoon.

De Anza Opening Day: Institutional Initiatives

The centerpiece of our Opening Day morning meeting will be a focused dialogue on one of the major elements of the college's strategic planning: retaining our students and facilitating their individual success. This work will involve breakout sessions through which each of us will share our own ideas and plans for keeping our students in school and helping them to meet their academic goals.

We will begin the morning with the traditional introductions of new faculty, staff and administrators, as well as recognizing the contributions of those who have major milestones of service to the college. We will then move to an update on last year's strategic initiatives, including a brief presentation on where we are investing $800,000 annually for three years in support of those initiatives.

You will recall that last year's planning, in which virtually all faculty and staff participated, resulted in four Institutional Initiatives aimed at increasing enrollment and retention, strengthening campus ties with local communities, and increasing our cultural capacity to reach and teach our diverse students. As a result of these initiatives, the college has significantly increased its outreach and community-based work, developed a new and comprehensive marketing and communications strategy, and worked to develop new programmatic and curricular initiatives that strengthen our ability to engage and retain our students.

At the heart of this work is the amazing diversity of commitments made at each departmental and division level, with each department and program seeking new ways of reaching out to students and then assisting them in being successful. This year's Opening Day is aimed at deepening this process, especially with regard to our ability to retain those students who come to us. Opening Day will give us an opportunity to work across the boundaries of departments and programs and personalize the institutional work in very immediate and direct ways.

2007-08 Budget Update

The governor's budget gave the community colleges a 4.53% cost of living adjustment (COLA) and did not increase student fees. At the same time the state budget cut back on some of the initiatives the governor had funded in the previous year. This year's college budget news is good, in the specific sense that we have a significant amount of one-time dollars on top of our general operating budget, as a result of last year's budget planning and an investment strategy that will spread a share of those dollars over a three-year period. Based on our current projections, I will be recommending a 75% increase in the "B" budget allocation (the non-personnel side of the budget) for this coming year, on top of the strategic planning allocations.

Enrollment remains our ongoing challenge. Despite a 5% growth in De Anza's on-campus enrollment, the district's overall enrollment remained flat last year. We believe that overall district enrollment will grow this year, but it will require concentrated work to reach out to new students and comprehensive efforts to keep students here and create the conditions under which they can be successful. Staffing increases require growth, for the allocation of new ongoing dollars depends on it. Put simply, the stakes are high this year: Growth means new positions, new general fund support and the increased capacity to serve our students.

Bond Measures

De Anza continues to reap the benefits of local voters approving Measure E in 1999 and Measure C in 2006. We have begun construction on the last major Measure E project: the Visual and Performing Arts Center. This new building will sit on the site of the old Mod Quad and will contain both a 400-seat theatre and the new gallery space for the Euphrat Museum of Art. Please join us at the official groundbreaking for the building at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 9.

In addition to starting work on the new performing arts center, we have completed the campus entries and roadways work, continue to renovate a variety of buildings and are completing a major lighting and pathways project to increase campus safety and ease of pedestrian traffic.

And, of course, the major renovation of the Campus Center has been completed, with an entirely new and environmentally responsible food services facility offering a wide range of healthy menu choices, renovated meeting rooms, new furnishings, and a new staff and faculty dining area. Even the outside dining patio furniture will be replaced within the month.

On the Measure C front, the district was entirely successful in facing the initial legal challenge to the measure by two local residents. These litigants have now appealed the lower court rulings, and we anticipate an appeals judgment by the end of the fall quarter. In anticipation of a successful ruling, the college and the district have made other funds available for the initial planning and design work on several projects, and we will move those projects forward when we complete the legal process. These projects include one major classroom building--the Mediated Learning Center--a renovated and redesigned multicultural center, and a multiyear renewal of college technology and furnishings.

A special note: None of the renovation and construction work could proceed, and none of the renovated buildings could open, without the tireless and generous work of our facilities, custodial and grounds staff. We owe an incredible debt to the men and women who worked long hours over the past several weeks to clean and equip and make ready every single one of our buildings and classrooms, courtyards and pathways. This college could not open or operate without the spirit of love and devotion that animates the work of our staff. Without a doubt, they are the heroes of this summer.

New Faculty and Staff

Finally, I want to give a special welcome to this year's new faculty, staff and administrators. You come to us with wonderful talents, skills and imagination, and we are delighted you've chosen to become part of our community. De Anza is more than its reputation and the statistics of its success; we are a place of heart and spirit, too, where you will find a rare passion for the work, a deep care for students, and a genuine pleasure in the company of each other. Welcome.

I look forward to seeing everyone on Opening Day. I'm excited about the Student Services Open House from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, and about watching the first home football game that day. Please join us! I'm also looking forward, like you, to seeing students, hearing the music out on the Main Quad, and checking out the new books and gear at the Bookstore.

My warmest wishes to everyone.

Brian Murphy

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