Welcome to Fall Quarter 2012

Sept. 24, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the start of fall quarter 2012! The campus is alive with students, some striding purposefully to their next class, others wandering a bit hesitantly, looking for directions. I want to thank the faculty, staff, administrators and students who turned out this morning to help new students at the information tables, and thanks to the division deans and administrative assistants who are helping students in their offices, as always. There is a wonderful pleasure in seeing the students back, with all their energy and enthusiasm.

We owe a special debt of gratitude to the custodial and grounds crews who labored to make sure the campus was ready for classes to start and for the opening of the new Media and Learning Center. Also, a big shout-out to our college colleagues and those in district ETS who worked so hard to make sure the brand-new technology is working in the MLC. Thanks to Admissions and Records staff for their work in enrolling students, as well as to those in Financial Aid, the Bookstore and everyone else across campus who are redoubling their efforts to serve students this week.

It was good to see so many of you at District Opening Day on Thursday and College Opening Day on Friday. As you heard on those days, this quarter begins with a couple of major issues. First, our enrollment is still down slightly from last fall, and it is very important to make sure as many students enroll as possible. Lower enrollments will compound our fiscal crisis, as the state will reduce our general fund allotment if we lose enrollment. I urge all faculty members to add students to your course sections if you have room.

The budget presentations at both district and college Opening Days were sober reminders of where we are financially. The state has cut our district funding by $28 million over the past three years. We are now carrying a continuing district deficit of $5.7 million, using one-time funds to maintain services and courses. If Proposition 30 does not pass in November, that $5.7 million deficit will grow to $11.9 million. Our budget planning has emphasized two things: the use of one-time money to soften the impact (or, lengthen the time required to cut), and the need to balance our budget.

This is wrenching work, and there is no easy solution. Last year we used our shared governance and budget review process to devise plans for the worst-case scenario: that is, the failure of Proposition 30. College Council forwarded those plans to me with the caveat that it was not clear how the college could maintain even our currently lowered enrollment if the cuts were put into effect. I reported this conclusion to the board of trustees. The budget reduction plans are available on the Planning and Budget Team webpages at www.deanza.edu/gov.

This fall, we will begin again to review the reduction plans, as the district is requesting our final plans by mid-October. Next steps then depend on the outcome of the Nov. 6election.

Our student, faculty and staff leadership understand the stakes in this election, and have been organizing throughout the summer in anticipation of the election season. You can see what is happening around the election at www.deanza.edu/vote. The website also includes resources to share with students, a link to register to vote and additional information.

As the students stream by outside my window here, I wonder how many of them understand the stakes in the election, or are registered to vote. I wonder how many of our colleagues know the details of the different propositions -- such as the fact that Proposition 38 funds only K-12 and not colleges, unlike Proposition 30, which funds both. I wonder how many of us will engage the election, whatever our different views.

What I trust will not happen is apathy, passivity and withdrawal. It is truly vital that “De Anza Votes,” as the button you received on Friday states. Thank you for participating in the mock voting exercise we held that day, and please do vote on Nov. 6, or cast your absentee ballot ahead of time. We’ll let you know when the Santa Clara County absentee ballot box we’re placing on campus becomes available.

I’ll be back in touch as there are developments on the budget front. It is a sad commentary on the state of California that the beginning of an academic year cannot be simply and joyously about the students, without having also to be about the systematic underfunding of higher education.

Best wishes for fall quarter.

Brian Murphy

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