Southwestern set to open ‘field of dreams’

By Bill Dickens, UT San Diego

Chula Vista — Southwestern College’s football program is in a class by itself. And it has nothing to do with making tackles and throwing passes.

The Jaguars will play in the school’s rebuilt Chet DeVore Stadium for the first time when they host Grossmont at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Jaguars coach Ed Carberry calls the new facility a “field of dreams.”

Click here to read the full story


Setting our Own Completion Rate Goals

Southwestern College is a pacesetter. Long before Chancellor Brice Harris announced his efforts to improve the student completion rate, we were looking at ways to improve student achievement. We created stretch goals for ourselves and spent a year listening to all our stakeholders to determine three research-based ways to get there.

We have been implementing those three strategies: 1) Electronic Student Educational Planning, 2) Analyze Completion Rates by Programs and 3) First-Year Experience. We accomplished the electronic SEP and the first-year experience pilot this year and we have learned ways to augment both efforts. And now we have a statewide goal in which to measure our growth.

As I outlined in my opening day presentation, the chancellor has set an annual growth goal of 2.5%. If our rate of change was 2.5% each year until 2025, we would stand at a 57% completion rate, while the state would be 62.8%.

So at what rate of change do we need to improve each year to not only reach the state average, but surpass it? Our Office of Institutional Effectiveness ran several different scenarios and calculated that we would need a rate of change increase of 3.5%

Annual Growth in Completions

At 3.5% annually, our students would achieve a 63.5% completion rate. What does that mean in terms of completers? Assuming the size of our student cohort remains the same, 62 additional students from the cohort would need to earn an associate’s degree, a certificate, transfer to a four-year institution or achieve transfer status. It’s an ambitious goal, but I believe it’s doable. Here’s an illustration of the number of completers we have projected over the next 10 years.

Annual Growth in Completions

Giving Us Your Ideas

The best ideas for improving Southwestern College and helping our students achieve their educational goals—including completion—come from YOU. Many of you have daily interaction with our students, and all of you are the experts in what you do. That’s why we want to hear your suggestions for improving everything we do as a college community.

Last week I had my first coffee chat and open hours and the Governing Board held the first listening tour visit. All the opportunities have given us a first-hand look—from your perspective—of what’s working at Southwestern and what challenges we face. I’ve gotten my list of ideas and Trustees Nora Vargas and Norma Hernandez received valuable feedback on the budgetary items that are most important.

Don’t worry if you missed this first round, however. We have time set aside each month for these activities. For a full list of the Governing Board Listening Tour, go to My next coffee chat is Sept. 22 and open hours are Sept. 26. To sign up for open hours, go to

Keep those good ideas coming!

Listening to your ideas over coffee
Listening to your ideas over coffee.  MESA students tell of their successes
  MESA students tell of their successes.

Pencils & Pixels Art Exhibit Merges Video Game Art and Old-School Drawings

CHULA VISTA – The worlds of video-game art and old-school drawing merge in the exhibition Pencils & Pixels on display at Southwestern Community College’s art gallery from Sept. 4 to Oct. 9, 2014.

The gallery’s exhibition space will be divided into two sections: The show’s digital portion will showcase Sony Computer Entertainment with aninteractive look into the genesis of a video game. Sony Computer Entertainment’s behind-the-scenes look will provide viewers with how ideas are developed from concept art to the completed game. In sharp contrast to the show’s digital art, Pencils & Pixels also features hand-drawn storyboards and drawings by skilled artists excelling in visual narratives for film and comics.  

The intent of Pencils & Pixels is to spotlight the common ground where state-of-the-art motion capture imagery of video-game technology overlaps with the back-to-basics drawing skills of visual storytellers armed with pencils, pens, charcoal and paper. Both are fueled by explosive ideas waiting to jump start the imagination.

Opening date: Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Closing date: Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
Opening reception: Thursday, September 4, 11am, with an artist talk at noon
Evening reception: Thursday, September 4, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Southwestern College Art Gallery
900 Otay Lakes Road
Chula Vista, CA 91910

Pencils & Pixels Art Exhibit Merges Video Game Art and Old-School Drawings

Southwestern College Awarded $2.475 Million Federal Grant

Funding will boost completion rates for Latino students

CHULA VISTA –  A five-year effort to increase completion rates for Latinos and language learners at Southwestern College has been given a financial boost.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the college $2,475,000 over five years for its Puertas al Futuro (Doorways to the Future) grant application. Funding will be used to create a first-year experience where cohorts of freshmen will work with a College Success Team and peer mentors to strengthen their study skills and build a learning community. The funding will also be used to shorten the time students spend in basic skills. Programming begins Oct. 1, 2014.

“Puertas al Futuro helps us implement best practices that focus on counseling support, peer mentoring, learning communities and new instructional strategies,” said Dr. Melinda Nish, superintendent/president of Southwestern College. “Our goal is to streamline the pathways for students to complete their educational goals.”

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Southwestern College serves more than 10,000 Latino students each fall. Funding will allow the college to utilize a new approach to teaching mathematics and provide specialized tutoring in English/writing, English as a Second Language, math and reading. It will create College Success Teams that will be assigned to students to help them navigate and access resources during college. Funding also includes an outreach component to give Spanish-speaking parents the tools needed to support their college students.

Parking lots A and J are set to re-open after installation of solar arrays

The installation of the largest single solar installation project in SDG&E’s service area is nearing completion at Southwestern College’s Chula Vista campus.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 18, students, faculty and staff will have covered parking in lots A and J. By Aug. 22, lots B and C will reopen. The final two lots with solar array installation—F and G—will reopen Sept. 19.

In mid March the lots were fenced off and construction crews rolled in to install state-of-the-art solar arays as part of the $389 million Proposition R bond measure to improve college facilities.

The solar panels will save the college an estimated $8 million over the next 20 years.

Parking lot J will be completed just in time for the grand opening of the new DeVore Stadium and Fieldhouse Classroom Building to be held on Friday, August 15. A grand opening celebration for the community is scheduled for 3:30-5 p.m.

Reminder to students - Parking permits will be required beginning Monday, August 25. You can purchase your parking permit through WebAdvisor. Discount parking permits for Lot O are also on sale.

Below is a map of the parking lot closures and opening dates.

Map of parking lot re-openings from solar panel instillation

Southwestern students to see new improvements on campus this fall

By Joe Little, ABC 10 News

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - This fall, students at Southwestern College will notice some major changes at the campus.

"We’ve been waiting for many years to have an opportunity to make some phenomenal changes for the college," said Terry Davis, Dean of the School of Health and the college’s Athletic Director.

Some of those changes had been decades in the making, with the biggest change being a four-story, $23 million Health, Exercise Science, and Athletics building in DeVore Stadium.

Click here to read the full story.

Southwestern College to Auction Surplus Items

CHULA VISTA – Hundreds of surplus items, including office equipment, building supplies, vehicles and classroom equipment, are up for auction this week at Southwestern College.

Working with CalAuctions, the college has placed the items online for viewing and bidding. All items are also available for physical inspection on Wednesday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the college district’s warehouse, 900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista. All bids must be made online, however, at the CalAuction site. Then click on the Go To The Auction tab.

Items available for auction include forklifts, compressors, large format printers, LCD projectors, ice machines and office chairs.

Online bidding is already open and all bids will close at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 24. All items must be removed from the college no later than 4 p.m. Friday, July 25. All sales are final, “as is, where is” and without warranty or guarantee.

For information on how to register and post bids, go to the CalAuctions website:

Larry Lambert Named to Prestigious Blackboard MVP Program

CHULA VISTA – Larry Lambert is no stranger is success. In his nearly 30 years as an educator he has received a gallery of well-deserved awards, including “Higher Education Teacher of the Year” and even a “Champion of Journalism” merit from the Southwestern College Sun Newspaper.

Larry Lambert presents information at the Blackboard Learning California Blackboard Users Group (CaliBUG) conference Southwestern College hosted last October
PHOTO: Larry Lambert presents information at the Blackboard Learning California Blackboard Users Group (CaliBUG) conference Southwestern College hosted last October.

Lambert has a new honor to add to his wall—inaugural member of the Blackboard MVP program. This inaugural class of 12 was selected by the online learning company because members stood out as experts, shared their expertise with others, demonstrated leadership and actively shared feedback with Blackboard.

At Southwestern, Lambert is a founder of the distance education department and has worked tirelessly to bring education into the new age.

Lambert said the award was thanks to his co-workers and those who supported online education at Southwestern.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this award,” Lambert said. “After so many years in Higher Education and Distance Learning in particular, this is quite a surprise. Without the saintly patience of our Southwestern College faculty and of our classified professionals who have supported online learning for the last 14 years this wouldn’t have happened. It is always a team that earns these kudos.”

MVPs will have exclusive access to professional development trainings and will be invited to private product briefings and roadmap sessions with Blackboard executives. MVPs will continue to share their expertise by moderating the Ask the Doctors Client Q&A forum and through their own personal blogs, Blackboard blogs, social media, Tweetups, virtual office hours and more. 

Blackboard CEO Jay Bhatt said MVP recipients went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to making online education available for everyone.

“We are proud to recognize Blackboard MVPs for reaching beyond the borders of their institutions and organizations to share their knowledge of, and best practices with, our products to the larger Blackboard community,” said Bhatt.  “This program is incredibly powerful as it provides a platform not only for users to collaborate and learn from each other, but also for our company leaders to hear directly from the people who use our solutions in the field, every day. Blackboard MVPs are truly helping improve the learning experience and address important challenges in education.”

Superintendent President Dr. Melinda Nish said online education is a priority at Southwestern College and the district and Academic Senate strongly support the efforts to train faculty and upgrade technology to support distance education.

“We are incredibly proud of the recognition Larry is receiving from Blackboard,” Nish said. “He has played an integral part in bringing the way we teach Southwestern College students into the 21st century. He truly deserves the recognition.”

The G.I. Bill, helping San Diego veterans succeed in higher education

It is a promise that never will be broken.

Seventy years ago on June 22, 1944, our nation made a commitment to the 16 million veterans returning from World War II by enacting the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – more commonly known as the G.I. Bill. Today, community colleges nationwide are steadfast in their commitment to serving the needs of our current and former military families.

SWC Veterans Resource Center Opening Day
PHOTO: Opening day of the SWC Veterans’ Resource Center in November 2013

This is especially true in San Diego and Imperial counties, where more than 20,000 veterans, active military and their family members are attending campuses at six community college districts thanks to the G.I. Bill and an array of veterans’ benefits.

The G.I. Bill helped transform the United States by providing job training, housing, loans, educational benefits and more to our veterans. Roughly eight million World War II veterans used their G.I. Bill education benefits, which played a critical role in driving our country’s long-term economic growth. Today, benefits include up to 36 months of full, in-state college tuition, monthly housing allowances, and $1,000 per year for books and supplies.

Even though California community colleges are the most affordable in the nation, veterans still need the G.I. Bill to pay for enrollment fees, books and living expenses. These benefits allow students to take advantage of all that our local community colleges have to offer, including workforce training and transfer degree programs.

Because veterans have unique needs, our colleges ensure that veterans have the counseling and educational road maps they need to realize academic success. Among the resources we provide are the veterans resource centers at the eight community colleges in San Diego County: MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa, San Diego Miramar, Southwestern and Grossmont, Cuyamaca. All San Diego County community colleges and Imperial Valley provide current and former military with veteran-to-veteran tutoring, benefits counseling, enrollment assistance and academic advising.

SWC Veterans Resource Center Opening Day
PHOTO: Inside the SWC Veterans’ Resource Center during the opening day reception in November 2013.

Other offerings come through Disability Support Programs and Services, which connects veterans to community-based resources for assistance with post-traumatic stress disorder counseling and learning disability assessment. Student veteran organizations foster camaraderie between members and provide outreach to fellow veterans. And veterans at all of the schools receive priority registration, ensuring they get the classes they need when they need them.

Our commitment to veterans expands beyond the doors of our campuses. San Diego Miramar College offers on-base classes at MCAS Miramar, San Diego City College offers on-base classes at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Naval Base San Diego, and Palomar and MiraCosta colleges offer classes at Camp Pendleton. Meanwhile, the San Diego Community College District’s renowned Military Education Program serves officer and enlisted personnel at bases across the United States with courses ranging from sophisticated communications and radar-systems training to personal financial management and culinary arts.

The bottom line: Current and former service members say that local community colleges have a firm grasp on what veterans need.

Seventy years ago today, America made a promise to its veterans. And our local community colleges are doing everything to ensure that promise is kept.

-Dr. Melinda Nish, President San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association and Superintendent/President of Southwestern Community College District

San Diego Small Business Professionals Brave Open Waters

NATIONAL CITY – Southwestern College’s National City Higher Education Center hosted exclusive interviews with the producers of the ABC show “Shark Tank” last week. More than 100 small business owners—who are clients of the college’s Small Business Development Center or of co-host San Diego Entrepreneur Center—huddled in the waiting room ready to show off their wares and compete for a chance of a lifetime.

As soon as the producers arrived, the attendees were whisked into an interview room with two other applicants and were given one to two minutes to make their product stand out.

They came. They saw. They pitched.

William Bowen sought funding and exposure for “Go-Go Dog Pals,” a remote-controlled dog toy used to give dogs a work out.

“For me it’s all about exposure,” said Bowen. “Being first to market with something like this is great, but you also have the girdle that no one knows it’s out there.”

Bowen was also looking forward to the years of business experience the “Sharks” have.

“There’s a lot of experience on that judge’s panel,” he said. “So getting that exposure to a broader audience, but also that type of knowledge, is invaluable.”

Bowen said the company wanted to bring technology into the dog toy world. The toy plays to a dog’s natural instinct of chasing and herding animals, while also helping dog owners who may be too tired to play with their dog.

William Bowen shows off the “Go-Go Dog Pal” to an ABC producer before test driving it around the conference room

Photo: William Bowen shows off the “Go-Go Dog Pal” to an ABC producer before test driving it around the conference room.

William Bowen shows off the “Go-Go Dog Pal” to an ABC producer before test driving it around the conference room

Attendees were pre-screened and registered on a first-come, first-served basis.  Each of them was given one to two minutes to pitch their product and each was asked what they would want from the “Sharks” if chosen.

How-Lun Chen and Terry Fojas spar with corrugated cardboard model swords. Chen’s company Crafteeo produces DIY schematics for cardboard crafts for children and adults
Photo: How-Lun Chen and Terry Fojas spar with corrugated cardboard model swords. Chen’s company Crafteeo produces DIY schematics for cardboard crafts for children and adults.

Products shown to the producers included an advertising Kiosk, model swords and adventure games.

Ilene Tupman, the creator of 100 percent culturally accurate Hawaiian board games “Pele’s Perils” and “Ohana Mana,” said her games were already being sold in Hawaii and on the mainland, but wanted the Sharks to help her expand into a larger market.

Tupman said her games were entirely made in the United States, and designed to withstand the humidity of the Hawaiian Islands.

Terry Fojas shows off the “Selfiekiosk,” an interactive monitor that can be used for digital advertisement, a lobby greeter, or social media campaigns. Fojas said he was hoping to develop more apps fo
Photo: Terry Fojas shows off the “Selfiekiosk,” an interactive monitor that can be used for digital advertisement, a lobby greeter, or social media campaigns. Fojas said he was hoping to develop more apps for the kiosk

Southwestern College’s Small Business Development Center, a co-sponsor to the event, has been helping local small business professionals for over 20 years.

They are located at the National City Higher Education Center in suite 103.

For more information on Southwestern College’s Small Business Development Center visit: