Board of Trustees prepare for winter

The Santa Monica College Foundation received a donation of over $800,000 from the Estate of Peggy Bergmann for student scholarships at the Board of Trustees meeting last night. This amount is the fourth largest that the Foundation has received.  Arrangements were made by Santa Monica attorneys Sonya and Bruce Sultan, according to a press release from SMC.

“We’re hoping there will be new legislation to more fully fund education but right now, we think private sources are also important to augment whatever money comes from public sources,” said Sonya Sultan.

The Sultans, who have lived in Santa Monica for over 20 years, are active members in the community.  They know many of the board members well and were happy to suggest the SMC Foundation when Ms. Bergmann expressed a desire to give to local organizations.

“This will allow us to go and complete our mission,” said President and Superintendent Chui L. Tsang. “It will allow us to put forth some other courses that are much needed for students to complete their education.”

This board meeting was the first since the reinstatement of the 2013 winter session.  Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeff Shimizu provided details concerning the courses that will be offered.

There will be 250 courses offered this winter, down from 350 in 2012 and 800 in 2009.  There will not be any arts, physical education or non-credit courses offered. All courses will be on the main campus and the satellite campuses will be closed. Fifteen of the courses are on hold for high-demand classes and are not currently open for registration.

“We centered our priorities on course offerings to assist students in completing their educational goals,” said Shimizu. “This included general education, IGETC, and CSU GE requirements for transfer.  Secondly, degree and certificate requirements for  CGE programs and finally, basic skill course in English, ESL and math.”

In addition, the UCLA Extension program will continue to rent space at SMC and will offer 12-15 classes in the winter.

The funding from Proposition 30 will not be received until the end of the fiscal year.  According to Dr. Tsang, there is a “cash flow issue” that will be addressed in the near future.  Trustee Rob Radar pointed out that the college is still expected to run a loss and will have to use reserve funds as a result of the winter session.

Concerns were raised by Emeritus college students during the public comments section of the board meeting.  When winter session was reinstated, Emeritus’ classes were not restored.

“SMC tries to justify the shutting down as a cost-cutting measure,” said Emeritus student Harriet Epstein. “[Emeritus teachers] and students are the only ones who are called on to sacrifice. This is shut down is clearly about more than money.”

Although some students were upset, others were supportive of the decisions of the board.

“I fully understand the reasons why we cannot have a winter session,” said Edith London. “I think we all need to recognize that there are constraints and you can’t meet every need and at every level for all of us.  And most importantly, there are all these students at Santa Monica College who need the classes to transfer so they can make a life for themselves.”

According to Erica LeBlanc, dean of academic affairs, only 25 days of instruction will be lost. Field trips, lectures and other special events will also be planned for the Emeritus students over the break.

This was the last board meeting of the semester and the first with newly appointed board members. The next meeting will be held on January 15, 2013.