Chancellor Judy C. Miner sent the following message via email to Foothill-De Anza district employees.
Jan. 20, 2021
Now that you’ve had time to settle into winter quarter, I have several pieces of news to share. I also want you to know how much I appreciate your support of our students. As of census, our enrollments are flat, which is good news in light of enrollment declines at most community colleges throughout the state and nation. I attribute this distinction to all your innovation and success in providing high quality programs and services.
Districtwide professional development days
Continuing the relationship with Dr. Joy DeGruy that began with District Opening Day, we have scheduled another all-employee session with her on February 19. We are excited to have Dr. DeGruy back with us to discuss next steps in our ongoing efforts to become a more equitable and inclusive institution. More details will be coming soon about a day that I expect will be engaging, enlightening and impactful! We’re also planning another program with Dr. DeGruy on April 16.
I am thrilled to announce that Pat James, who served as executive director of the Online Education Initiative from 2014-2017, has agreed to help coordinate the district’s operational plans for returning to campus. This is a complex task, and I am grateful to have such a skilled administrator to assist us. Pat will also help us stay on top of constantly changing state and county requirements.
To assist Pat, we will form an ad hoc Return-to-Campus Task Force that will begin meeting in February. The task force will produce a comprehensive document that describes:
- College processes for deciding prioritization of programs and services for return to campus
- Timelines, responsibilities, and lead personnel for all aspects of return to campus
- Current state and local regulations governing in-person activities
As I have stated previously, the Return-to-Campus Task Force will not be setting priorities about who returns when, but the colleges will establish their own processes to determine their respective priorities. Chancellor’s Cabinet will consequently invite faculty, classified professionals, union representatives, and administrators to participate on the task force based on their operational knowledge and responsibility in relation to the programs and services on a given meeting agenda. The Task Force will assess the prerequisite conditions and resources for return to campus. Implementation plans will be approved by Chancellor’s Cabinet after consideration of safety, cost, availability of resources, feasibility, and issues subject to collective bargaining.
I’m also thrilled to announce that the district has very recently engaged Bahia Overton, a member of Dr. DeGruy’s consulting team, to facilitate an inclusive review of campus safety that can ultimately inform recommendations to the Board of Trustees. This approach emerged from our conversations with Bahia and Dr. DeGruy about our work to remove barriers to equity and inclusion.
Over the past year it has become increasingly clear that policing is only one element of campus culture that affects feelings of safety throughout the district. Following Bahia’s advice, we will conduct a comprehensive examination of campus safety in its broadest sense, beginning with the gathering of perspectives from a wide spectrum of students and employees to identify issues, themes, and ideas for change. In the coming weeks, Bahia will provide us with details on strategies and timelines. A progress report to the Board of Trustees is scheduled for June 14, and we will resume discussion in fall quarter to complete recommendations by the end of the calendar year.
The district is conducting a student housing survey that was launched this week with the help of the colleges’ marketing offices and student and faculty leaders. It is designed to gather information that will help us understand student needs as we pursue community-based affordable housing options. All students will receive a link to the survey, and we hope that faculty members will encourage students to complete it.
The survey will give us valuable baseline information that will help us in discussions with private and non-profit partners about developing community-based housing. The survey is similar to one that we did with employees in June. It aims to learn more about students’ current housing situations and their preferences for district-sponsored housing. I am grateful to the colleges and student leaders for their help in getting the word out about the survey.
At the November 2, 2020, study session of the Board of Trustees, Randy Tsuda of Alta Housing presented an overview of his organization’s work to increase affordable housing in Silicon Valley and their interest in partnering with Foothill-De Anza. We are now exploring a potential project with Alta in Mountain View for employee and student housing and will have more to share in the coming months.
We're also moving forward with a Joint Powers Authority with the Fremont Union High School District, Cupertino Union School District, and Sunnyvale Union School District for affordable employee housing and look forward to resuming meetings after a seven-month hiatus due to the pandemic.
The district is working with Mercy Housing California and Abode Communities on an affordable rental housing project for school employees and their families made possible through a partnership with Santa Clara County, Facebook, the city of Palo Alto, and several participating school districts. The development, which will be built on county owned land at 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto, is moving through the county's review process and a study session is tentatively scheduled before the Palo Alto City Council next month.
Informational sessions on major topics
In response to your keen interest, we have scheduled informational sessions focusing on the following topics to answer your questions and hear your ideas:
- Student and employee housing – February 23 from 2-3 p.m.
- Return-to-campus planning – March 4 from 4-5 p.m.
- Campus safety – March 11 from 4-5 p.m.
These will be added to your district calendar soon.
It feels a bit odd to report on such operational matters following such an historic presidential inauguration today and the attack on the Capitol only two weeks ago. I confess to toggling between the community college budget workshop and inaugural activities and concluded that our work may pause but never stops. And our students need us now more than ever.
Let me close by again expressing my thanks to all of you for nine months of dedication, creativity, and patience. There is a light at the end of this tunnel!
Be safe and be well,