I want to write first thank you for your hard work and dedication as we embark on what must be the most uniquely challenging start of a semester in SFCC’s nearly four-decade history. Your dedication to students is inspiring and the Fall Semester 2020 is running at full speed thanks to your collective resilience, innovation, and perseverance during these uneasy times.
I would also like to take this opportunity to share some news from last week’s Governing Board meeting. In case you weren’t able to watch, I want to share some highlights. You can view the meeting on SFCC’s YouTube channel.
Although we projected and budgeted for a 30-percent decline in enrollment for fall, we are currently at a 22-percent decline – much better than anticipated. Degree-seeking students are up from 50 percent last year to 70 percent today. The Welcome and Advising Center is working with Student Ambassadors to develop peer-to-peer mentorships to help coach our students through a successful semester. The Financial Aid Office received a little over $500,000 for the state’s new Opportunity Scholarship and has begun awarding the funds.
Reimbursement available to fulltime faculty and eligible staff working from home
In response to COVID-19, a number of SFCC employees continue to work remotely from their homes. Adapting to telework has required a number of stay-at-home adjustments, as well as access to work equipment, supplies, and broadband internet.
On Wednesday night, the SFCC Governing Board approved a $200 reimbursement to assist in expenses related to this transition to telework. This reimbursement will extend to all fulltime faculty and eligible staff.
Details of the reimbursement are as follows:
- Fulltime faculty and eligible staff working from home will receive $200 one time each fall and spring semester.
- To be eligible, qualifying employees must complete and submit a reimbursement form. Forms will be delivered by email to faculty and staff by Payroll Office soon.
- Reimbursements are available starting this fall semester; reimbursements are not available retroactively.
Additionally, college employees are permitted to temporarily take home office chairs and other equipment weighing less than 50 pounds. You must clear all take-home items with your supervisor. Some equipment, including printers and other network-dependent electronics, should not be taken home.
This important program is open and providing healthy non-perishables to students experiencing food insecurity. You can donate to Campus Cupboard and the Student Emergency Assistance Fund through SFCC Foundation. The Student Government Association presented goodie bags to incoming students that were very well received. Please note that the SGA needs your assistance to submit nominations for Student of the Month. All nominations should be sent to SGA@sfcc.edu with a brief description of what the student did to model Integrity, Leadership and Service (SGA’s motto).
Thanks to all of your hard work, we’ve met our Strategic Plan 2020 goals. We exceeded our goal of a 20% IPEDs graduation rate to achieve 25%. Financial Services met our target of increasing cash reserves so that we have the ability to cover three pay periods should the need arise. In addition, they brought audit findings down to zero. We also made great strides to improve our emergency preparedness.
As you have perhaps noticed, the state and local bond-funded construction of the Automotive Technologies Center and parking lot improvements are underway. We have also spent these and the federal government CARE Act funds to support our students’ technology needs by providing loans to students for more laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots as well as installing cameras for faculty who are teaching courses online.
SFCC Bond Issues in General Election
Library Bond Issue B, if approved by voters, will provide $9,500,000 ($3 million each for public, academic, and public school libraries, and $500,000 for Tribal libraries). Academic libraries will receive much-needed funding to support our students (and public college and university students across New Mexico). Bond B pays for nearly everything the library buys that supports electronic access. Because of the Bond B investment, our Library can remain vital, growing, and relevant during Covid and into the future. As you may know, our Library Team sprang into action when we closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. These funds will help them continue creating virtual events for students and the community-at-large, handling laptop loans, supporting faculty with online resources, scanning documents, providing research, offering curbside pickup, and more.
Higher Education Bond C Look to the Future, if approved by voters, SFCC will receive $2 million for improving infrastructure, aging utility and energy systems, and physical plant and building upgrades campus wide. All projects are consistent with the SFCC Master Plan and Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plans. In addition, we will enhance the college’s renewable energy and efficiency commitments consistent with the state’s new codes and pay for our required portion of the county’s southeast connector.
These bonds will not increase taxes. Please vote.
Absentee voting is Tuesday, October 6, through Saturday, October 31. Early voting is Saturday, October 17, through Saturday, October 31. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3.
If you haven’t already done so, please complete the census. Our state 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. Please continue to encourage the people around you to complete the Census, too. View the 2020 Census website.
A reminder: All SFCC students and employees are required to wear facemasks at all times while on campus.
More specifics – including safe work practices and guidelines, a COVID self-screening form, and phased reopening scenarios – are available in SFCC’s “COVID-19 Readiness Plan.”
Thank you for all that you have done and continue doing to support our students and community.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected. SFCC – In This Together.
Becky Rowley, Ph.D.