Today, July 19, 2014 is a good day

I am so very glad to be back at BC.  Life is good.

Degrees of Inequality5:30 a.m.

Started off my day reading Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream and thinking that we should probably have Civic Literacy as one of our Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs).

The author, Suzanne Mettler asks the question “Why (does) reform become possible?” The theoretical basis used by the author to structure the analysis is that of “three political streams”:

  1. Problem Stream – recognition and definition of need
  2. Political Stream – emergence of political will
  3. Policy Proposal Stream – existence of viable alternatives

The author makes three observations with regard to this theoretical framing

  1. These “streams” must be considered in the context of the existing “policyscape”, as this is what frames both need (problem) and alternatives (policy), as well as motivates willpower (political).
  2. The policy proposal stream is rarely the limiting factor – good alternatives abound – in this case, the alternative of “direct lending” by the government was around long before it was enacted in 2010. However, it took the convergence of the problem and political streams to make that policy stream viable.
  3. Frequently a “locked in” dynamic is established that is self-reinforcing for the status quo

You can see why I started thinking about how important it is for our students to leave BC with a fundamental knowledge on how to understand the political landscape and how policy impacts day-to-day life.

9:00 a.m.

Sonya Body Pump June 2014

Sonya Christian

After that I went to my Saturday exercise class which launched a new routine last week; hence the sore muscles 🙂

Here is BC’s wellness core value:

We believe health and wellness to be integral and foundational elements, and we understand that a holistic education improves all aspects of the individual and the society including the mind, body, and spirit; through education, we will positively impact the health of the natural environment and the global community.



10:00 a.m. It’s Possible at BC

I then headed out to BC to see what Steve Watkin and the BC gang were up to with the It’s Possible event.  Many counselors, advisors, staff and students were there helping new students assess, complete their orientation, their education plan and then register for classes. We registered approximately 125 students today.  Yes!!!!  See more pictures at the end of the blog.

Its Possible July 19 2014 Group

Sonya Christian with Steve Watkin and the It’s Possible Team. July 19, 2014.


Yay, I am officially a mentor:

At 3:30 p.m. today, I received an email from Janet Fulks assigning me two new students to mentor as part of the Making it Happen initiative that we are launching this fall.  This is a signature initiative that ties in the matriculation requirement of the SSSP, the equity requirement of the Student Success legislation, as well as our Achieving The Dream (ATD) plan. I was so excited that I immediately contacted them.  Here is my email to them:

Hi *****:

Just wanted to drop you a quick email and say hello.  I have been assigned to be your mentor as part of the Making it Happen (MIH) initiative that the College launched this year.  You are part of this pilot initiative.

I am including the two communications that you should have already received:

      1. A letter from Dr. Kimberly Blingh about the Summer Bridge that culminates with a dinner on August 15th.
      2. A welcome email from me and the Making it Happen team inviting you to the August 19th Convocation Ceremony.

Are you planning on attending both events? Let me know.

Also, my cell phone … .  Please feel free to text me if you have any questions. What is your number?

Looking forward to having you at BC.

Tina Johnson5:30 p.m.

Inspiring words from our classified union president:

Then I re-read an email Tina Johnson sent me about an article from a student success summit regarding just how important support staff are to the colleges they work for.

Joe Cuseo, an educational consultant, presented Integrating Academic and Student Affairs: Promoting Student Success through the Curriculum & Co-Curriculum. The full paper is available for download, but Tina sent me one part of the article. To each and every support staff who reads this blog, remember, you are critical to Bakersfield College and our students!  Here is the piece:

The Educational Role of Support Staff in Higher Education

Support staff at institutions of higher learning have the potential to be much more than customer service agents; they can also be experiential educator and student success agents. This expanded view of staff embraces the traditional emphasis on customer service, but is more inclusive and embraces the idea that students are more than customers; they are also clients and, ultimately, our “products” after graduating and assuming occupational and leadership positions. The work performed by support staff in a “learning organization” has loftier goals than the corporate world; it goes beyond merely satisfying customers and maximizing profit to enriching the lives of students and contributing to their future success.

In addition, because of their direct, first-hand contact with students on a regular basis, staff members also have the potential to functions as assessment agents by gathering data on student experiences that may be used to promote institutional effectiveness and continual quality improvement. For example, they can assess whether students are receiving clear and fair communication about campus policies and procedures, and are encountering the least amount of organizational red tape and insensitive institutional bureaucracy.

Staff working on college campuses can play a major role as educators who contribute to students’ learning, development, and persistence to graduation in the following ways:

  • by the behavior they model,
  • by their sensitive and reasoned explanations and interpretations of college policies for students,
  • by how they handle student conflicts with college personnel,
  • by their responsiveness to and referral of students in crises, and
  • by their instruction and mentoring of student employees (e.g., work-study students).

The educational potential of staff can be maximized if campuses taking a more inclusive approach to promoting student success by being more intentional about:

  • * including staff in professional development opportunities,
  • * involving staff on key campus committees, and
  • * encouraging staff to be research and retention agents by seeking out and systematically documenting students’ campus perceptions and experiences, documenting “critical incidents,” and contributing ideas for streamlining or minimizing institutional bureaucracy

Unfortunately, staff influence of staff on promoting students retention, learning, and development has been underestimated, underutilized, and under appreciated on most college and university campuses. Robert Parker, Director of Human Resource at Stanford University, reports that “the best organizations see employees as contributing directly to the purposes of the organization and its success, [however] staff often feel like second-class citizens who are shown little appreciation and who aren’t sure in what way their jobs make a difference to the school.”

In a doctoral dissertation designed to identify key factors that impact the successful performance of students and staff, Vieira (1996) reported results indicating that positive student interaction with staff has a positive effect on students’ institutional satisfaction and persistence. Conversely, poor student-staff relationships were associated with student dissatisfaction and disconnection with the campus. Furthermore, it was discovered that staff members benefit from positive relationships with students, as evidenced by increased staff satisfaction with their work, increased satisfaction with their interactions with students, and a stronger feeling that their work had educational value. Lastly, certain factors were found to be consistently contributed to positive student-staff interaction and the provision of quality student service, namely: staff training, empowerment, teamwork, reward, and association with other service providers. Conversely, lack of empowerment, hierarchy, territoriality, and dissociation from other service providers were found to detract from the provision of quality service to students.

6:30 p.m. Call from my daughter

And then the cherry on top of this very delicious day was a call from my extremely busy and beautiful daughter Eisha letting me know that she was coming down to spend a weekend here in Bakersfield in two weeks.  woo hoo.  Life is good!

Enjoy these pictures:

Liz Peisner and Steve Watkin July 19 2014

Liz Peisner and Steve Watkin at It’s Possible. July 19, 2014

photo 2

SGA with Steve Watkin

Its possible July 19 2014 Photo 3

Victor Diaz and Emily Bartel at It’s Possible. July 17, 2014

photo 5photo 4

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4 thoughts on “Today, July 19, 2014 is a good day

  1. Peggy DeStefano July 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm Reply

    I did not go to the gym today, but I have been reading the Mettler book to gear up for a presentation to my colleagues in the CCSNH. Provocative and disheartening, compelling and urgent in its call for more transparency in the for-profit college market as well as other deeply-rooted problems in higher education financing, Mettler challenges the body politic to demand a true accounting of the political contributions from the for-profits (Apollo Group, e.g.) that have effectively neutralized our elected representatives. Mettler also provides in excruciating data-detail the demise of our state college systems.

    A tough slog, my friends, but worth it if you have a scintilla of energy to advocate remaining in your heart, mind, or soul.

    Best wishes to all,
    Peggy DeStefano

    P.S. Still shaking it up at the two colleges within striking distance of my rural home in NH!


    • bcpresident July 19, 2014 at 9:22 pm Reply

      Good to hear from you Peggy. I am one of the three discussants at the SHEEO conference on August 6th and would be happy to exchange notes on this book with you. Sounds like you are having a great time at CCSNH.

  2. Manny Mourtzanos July 21, 2014 at 11:10 am Reply

    Sonya’s reflections and Peggy’s points about Degrees of Inequality are right on! Mettler exposes the systemic flaws that have ultimately resulted in a disservice to so many students at for-profit institutions. The recent higher ed headlines seem to suggest that policy makers are beginning to share those concerns.
    Mettler’s book is a must-read for college personnel and lawmakers. I highly recommend it!

    Also, a huge ‘Congratulations’ to the BC It’s Possible team for serving a large cadre of incoming students. Your investment is so greatly appreciated!!

  3. Ken July 23, 2014 at 8:56 am Reply

    It is the “locked in” dynamic that is particularly difficulty work with educationally. As implied by Joe Cuseo’s piece, well trained support staff at community colleges can be a significant factor in this part of education. Exposure of options, and creation of a habit for looking for them, can be a vital element of the educational process.

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