Published on 9/9/2020.
I want to thank all College of the Redwoods faculty, staff, and administrators for their extraordinary efforts as we started a most unusual and challenging fall semester. Across the college, faculty and staff continue to work hard to ensure that our students are supported on and off our campuses and sites, even as we endure the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
I also want to thank our local community, who have steadfastly supported College of the Redwoods over the past several years. I am asking for your continued support as we address two challenges CR will face.
Firstly, our Board of Trustees will undergo some significant personnel changes in the coming months. We have four trustees whose terms of office will expire in December 2020. Board President and Area 6 representative Dr. Colleen Mullery and Area 7 representative Ms. Sally Biggin will run for re-election on November 3, 2020. Area 4 had an insufficient number of qualified candidates to elicit an election this year, so Mr. Richard Dorn will continue his tenure. I want to thank Trustee Dorn for his willingness to continue on the Board for another four-year term.
Mr. Bruce Emad’s term on the board will end in December, and he has decided he will not run for re-election as the trustee for Area 5. Since we did not have any candidates file to run for his seat, it falls to the Board of Trustees to appoint a qualified person to succeed Mr. Emad. Additionally, Dr. Bonnie Deister resigned as trustee for Area 1 effective September 1. The Board is now in the process of identifying appropriate replacements for both Mr. Emad and Dr. Deister.
This is a significant change in leadership, and so I thought it would be appropriate to explain a bit about the critical role our trustees play in the leadership of the college. Through a number of prescribed responsibilities, the Board of Trustees sets the vision for the college based on the needs of the local community and the state. The means or methods used to achieve the desired outcomes are delegated to the president.
The Board is tasked with the following responsibilities:
- Steadfastly supporting the Mission of the District.
- Delegating full responsibility and authority to the President to lead the District without interference from the Board or individual trustees.
- Assuring fiscal health and stability.
- Monitoring institutional performance and ensuring the quality, integrity, and improvement of student learning programs by regularly reviewing key indicators of student learning and achievement and institutional plans.
- Allocating resources to support learning outcomes and institutional plans.
- Acting as a collective entity – once the board reaches a decision, all board members act in support of the decision.
- Advocating and defending the institution and protecting it from undue influence, political pressure, or special interests.
- Upholding a code of ethics and conflict of interest policy, with individual board members adhering to the code.
The current membership of the Board developed a long-term strategic vision centered on increased community access to higher education, academic excellence, innovation, equity, and community impact. More recently, it took a number of courageous positions that will bolster CR’s financial position and secure long-term fiscal solvency. The District has been fortunate to have a Board of Trustees made up of such highly-skilled professionals who have demonstrated a commitment to student success and the overall sustainability of the college.
Secondly, I would also like to address some decisions I made late in the spring semester related to our athletic program. As many of you know, I suspended intercollegiate football and beach volleyball in an effort to mitigate the negative impact of the State's emerging fiscal challenge.
I acknowledge that intercollegiate competition that encourages personal development can be an integral part of a student’s overall educational experience. However, anticipating a reduction in state funding, it is not clear how much of CR’s scarce fiscal resources can be devoted to athletic programs. That said, I asked Athletic Director Bob Brown to develop a plan for the possible reinstatement of football when the District's fiscal outlook improves and the following factors are met:
- The District can develop and sustain an adequate budget to fund a football program without jeopardizing the District's fiscal solvency or negatively affect its instructional mission.
- The District remains compliant with Title IX requirements.
- The football program prioritizes increasing academic achievement and graduation rates of football student athletes.
- The football program recruits student athletes only from California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.
- The District hires a head football coach who prioritizes student/athlete accountability and ethical performance from staff.
I also directed the entire athletic program to immediately stop out-of-state recruiting that is permitted under the redefined out-of-state recruitment waiver for all states that are not on a land border with California (i.e., for all states other than Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona). This more closely aligns with our general enrollment and recruiting strategy, which prioritizes the needs of our local community.
In light of all of these changes, on top of an already uncertain era brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to invite the community to participate in a virtual community forum on October 8 from 6-7:30 pm. We want to highlight the accomplishments of CR, discuss possible future challenges, and give community members a chance to ask questions of the District’s leadership. More information on the forum can be found on our website or on our Facebook page.