This has been a challenging time for many, and on many levels. I hope that you and your family and friends are doing well. It’s important to keep in touch with them and with one another and to practice self-care during this unprecedented era of required isolation.
Today I write with sorrow and distress at the events happening nationwide in response to the death of George Floyd. As New Mexicans, we are fortunate to – for the most part – appreciate and honor our state’s diversity. It is heartbreaking that across our country and the world discrimination, prejudice, and hate continue to erode our humanity, test our compassion, and break our resolve to be better, to do better. There is no place for these on our campus or in our community. As a place of learning, where higher education invites us to explore diverse perspectives and learn from one another, we continue to uphold and protect the basic tenets of our existence, among others, freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, protection from harm by others, the rejection of racism, and so much more. Together we continue the commitment to do all we can to educate our students to our best ability and to maintain a college environment of welcome, understanding, and safety.
On a positive note, I am pleased to announce that the Graduation Committee has been meeting to develop a special Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020. More details to come, but please mark your calendars for Saturday, June 20, when we will count on everyone to join in to celebrate our graduates.
Also positive news, SFCC has been re-accredited through 2029-30. Thank you, again, to all of you who made this accreditation visit a success. There was no doubt that we would be reaccredited, because you are all doing amazing work. But it is always a relief and a reason to celebrate when it’s official. Thank you.
Thank you, also, to everyone who has been involved with serving our local population during the pandemic. From our partnership with World Central Kitchen providing free, fresh meals across the region (more than 32,000 meals!) to the students, faculty, and staff making and donating masks, hospital gowns, shields, and more to help mitigate the spread of the virus. I am proud to be associated with such generous, considerate, and creative colleagues.
As expected, last week’s Governing Board meeting focused primarily on the budget. As you may be aware, we are required to submit a budget based on the Legislature’s House Bill 2 appropriation that was approved earlier this year when funds were plentiful. However, due to the coronavirus and diminished oil and gas revenues, we know that state appropriations likely will be cut during the Legislature’s special session that begins on June 18. The Financial Services Office is working hard to prepare scenarios so that we are better equipped to address the financial situation once the Legislature approves a revised budget and in the event additional cuts to our budget are made in the coming year. Much remains uncertain. We are doing our utmost to stay on top of this moving target.
At a special meeting earlier in May, the Governing Board declared a bona fide financial emergency (Policy 4-40 Special Circumstances Employment Actions) and approved increases in tuition and fees (Policy 1-31 Governing Board Financial Oversight). These are the new amounts effective for the Fall 2020 semester: For tuition in-state, in-district, $49.00 per credit hour; for Fees per credit hour: Service, $11.00; Student Government Association, $1.00 (no change); Student Activities $0.50 (no change); Technology, $10.00. The distance education fee applied to online classes has been eliminated.
As you no doubt assumed, it was difficult to be forced to let go of some of our fellow employees. I know that it hurts. Though we were obliged to do so because of our nonprofit status, we are looking at every possible way to prevent losing additional positions. By not filling vacancies and continuing our careful attention to spending, we are hopeful that we can avoid further cuts.
Employees who need to come to campus for work are following the covid-19 protocols established by our Deans and Safety and Security staff. Please continue to adhere to the CDC, state, and campus guidelines so that we keep everyone safe from the coronavirus.
As a reminder, if you haven’t already done so, please complete the census. Even in less challenging times, we cannot afford to lose millions of federal dollars that support our neighbors and benefit our community. It is particularly crucial now in the current fiscal environment. You count. Completing your census counts. In addition to political representation ramifications, the census affects the calculation of federal funds that provide for health care, nutrition, highways, education, housing, jobs, and more.
Your mental health is important. I encourage employees who may be struggling in these unprecedented times to access SFCC’s free, private counseling. Contact the Employee Assistance Program at ComPsych Guidance Resources at 866-676-3367. SFCC’s COVID-19 site and our Facebook page SFCC – In This Together are also helpful.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected. SFCC – In This Together.
Becky Rowley, Ph.D.