Former Chancellor Stuart Bundy christened Crafton Hills College the “Emerald on the Hill” and I have ever since thought of our beautiful campus as a jewel. When I was honored with the opportunity to serve as the campus President in 2000, I considered it my dream job. As I retire at the end of this academic year, after a dozen years in that position and 18 on the campus, I realize it is far more than an occupation. I have had the chance to help serve both students and our communities and will leave the College in a position of which I am incredibly proud. The physical campus has been and is continuing to undergo its first transformation since opening in 1972. What a joy it has been to bring to fruition the dreams of the students, faculty and staff. The voters in the service area of the San Bernardino Community College District have been tremendously supportive of both colleges, passing two large bond messages in 2002 and 2008 that have moved our colleges into the 21st Century – renovating some buildings, replacing others, updating infrastructure, Disability Act requirements, and safety and lighting features, and allowing us to better serve more students than the college was ever originally anticipated to educate without losing the flavor of the campus.
We have a new, state-of-the-art library, with a dedicated tutoring center, an art gallery, an auditorium and other facilities that are now in constant use. Our Olympic-sized swimming pool serves the community through a joint agreement with the City of Yucaipa. The renovations of the classroom building, the Finkelstein Performing Arts Center, the Chemistry and LADM buildings, and the Maintenance and Operations Building are coming up. The new Science Building, PE and Athletic Complex, and Crafton Center will debut in 2015, and the Emergency Services Building in 2017. It may seem like the construction does not end – but the temporary inconveniences have been well worth the learning environments our students now enjoy – and will for years to come. I will be forever grateful to the voters who had the vision to recognize that meeting the needs of our students now would benefit our whole community for years to come.
Enveloped in our lovely environment are academic programs and student services dedicated to student success. Our academic environment has continued to blossom. We have brought new concepts in teaching and learning to the college of which I boast regularly. Among those are the Learning Communities. A learning community is a cluster of courses that a group of students take together to provide a deeper understanding of course subject matter while they build relationships with faculty and learn together outside the classroom. Learning communities have expanded from five in spring 2011 to 13 in fall 2012. Students in learning communities succeed at a rate of 74% at CHC, compared with 65% of students in stand-alone courses.
For entering students who require additional skill development prior to beginning traditional college course work, we are now offering a summer bridge program, a free, not-for-credit course for math and English students. The first year, the program served 100 participants with 30 on the waiting list, and it is expected to grow to serve 300 participants – fully 1/3 of the entering class.
Crafton Hills offers a tremendous set of student services to enhance student success. We have a program called SOA3R (Senior Orientation, Application, Assessment, Advisement and Registration) which directly involves five primary feeder high schools. CHC students who participate in SOA3R are retained from one semester to the next at a substantially higher rate (91%) than those who have not (83%).
One of the lowest points of my years as an administrator was when Crafton Hills College was put on academic probation in 2008. The Accreditation Team made it very clear that it was not the academic programs or the student services about which they were concerned, it was a lack of integrated planning processes, supported by documentary evidence. I have never been so proud of any team as I was, and remain, when the faculty, staff and managers restored Crafton Hills College to full accreditation standing in 2011. The CHC Integrated Planning and Program Review committee then topped that triumph by winning the state-wide Research and Planning Groups’ Excellence in Planning 2012 award.
Two of the aspects of my tenure that bring me great pleasure are the Crafton Hills College Foundation, created in 1985, but which has been a particular focus for me, and which now awards more than $55,000 a year in scholarships to our students, as well as other forms of assistance. Gifts come in all sizes. One donor chose to make a difference at Crafton Hills College in our allied health programs. Mr. Stanley Krasovec, a lifetime resident of Fontana, California, remembered Crafton Hills College with a gift of approximately $1.1 million to support the institution’s allied health programs with special emphasis on the medical simulation program. The other was to improve ecological impact Crafton has on its environment through the implementation of energy efficient conservation projects. As a result, our new landscaping includes drought resistant plantings around all the new construction; we are utilizing a water monitoring system that controls water consumption throughout the campus, and we are restoring any trees removed to other parts of the campus. Our new campus lighting project on the walkways and parking lots is capable of reducing electricity during non-peak hours, we have installed solar panels that will heat our pool and have included new HVAC systems that mean more efficient heating and cooling of our buildings. But the crowning glory is our new Solar Farm, the largest of its kind on a community college campus, that will ultimately reduce our electrical consumption by up to 95%, and more than pay for itself in eight years.
My professional career is a rarity. I have been with the San Bernardino Community College District since I completed my education – first as a teacher and then as an administrator, more than 46 years. Working in education in California is not easy, since it brings with it great challenges, but the gratification of improving the lives of students, whether in the classroom or from an office, is unmatched.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the San Bernardino Community College District and the surrounding communities for their continued support of the College and our students during my tenure and for their personal encouragement and assistance over my career. I have developed lifelong friendships from my work here and I look forward to further strengthening those and making new ones as I move into the next phase of my life. I will be serving on boards and continuing to volunteer with a variety of organizations. I will never be far from education, though, because that is where my heart is. Gloria Macías Harrison, President, Crafton Hills College
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