The Human Chord


Reconciliation needed so SWC can move on

 By Albert Fulcher

<!–By Albert Fulcher

–>News Editor

Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chills covered my body as I listened to him talk. Speaking from his heart, he brought me to tears. Southwestern College Education Association President Andy MacNeill was delivering his report to the governing board. It was solemn, soothing and brought to life what I believe many of us here feel on campus.

“I want to talk about the past for a moment and think about our responsibilities to our community as representatives of SWC, which we serve,” he said.

“Our campus community has endured a lot of negativity and strife over the past few years and we have come out more determined to show the community who we really are. Again this is about the past, where the only transparency visible was the fact that there was none. I bring this up because we are still healing. They are fresh in our memories, and in the memory of our community.”

He is right. We are a healing campus and there are still many stones left scattered about.

Campus environment has taken a 180 degree turn and the atmosphere here is one of hope and determination as together we fight to get our college back. It will get done, but we cannot forget to care for the healing wounds.

I commend the governing board for its settlement in the Elisandra Singh case. She was wrongfully terminated and the repercussions changed her life forever.

But if the board does not reverse its decision on the arbitration, the wounds of collective bargaining may never heal.

Following the reign of Dr. Raj Chopra, it is exhilarating to see a new freedom of expression policy. Changes made are a good start, but it is not good enough.

It is too vague and leaves many questions unanswered. Are we still restricted to our now infamous free speech patio? These need to be addressed.

Revised policies related to The SUN are slowly being pushed through, but there is a sudden urge to insinuate SWC’s fiscal department into our policy.

It does not belong there. As a member of the editorial board during the adminsitration’s attempt to shut down the paper, and reading in this issue about the problems in Fiscal Services recent past, it is ludicrous to support this idea. Student journalists should never find themselves under the thumb of a malevolent administration again.

These are a few of the issues that still need answers. Our college still needs time to recover. Before a wound can heal it must be cleaned, otherwise an infection will set in. MacNeill shared his dreams. They also are my dreams for this college now on a promising road to recovery.

“Tonight I want to ask you all to continue with the openness and honesty that has taken root at our college,” said MacNeill. “Our community will respect us more for this. Many still have questions about what has happened over the past few years.

They want to know about Prop AA, Prop R and how their tax dollars have been spent. About the Gala, golf trips and silent auctions. They will come, and they will ask us questions about these events and those who are no longer present.

“I want us to assure them we have nothing to hide, for we are the ones who remain committed to our students and our community to make sure that we continue to have a public institution of higher learning in the South Bay.

So when they come, tell them what they want to know. We have nothing to hide. Let’s show them who we really are.”


College averts SLO ‘meltdown,’ meets deadline

By Albert H. Fulcher

News Editor

Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A missed deadline was narrowly averted in the college’s accreditation effort that could have placed the institution on “show cause,” the step before closure.

After a tumultuous 15 months, Southwestern College was thrown yet another curve in its battle to get off probation. Word from the state accreditation body regarding Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) sent the campus into a five-day writing frenzy. Faculty leaders said the college dodged the bullet.

Some on campus called it “the great SLO meltdown,” but more said it was an “SLO crackdown.” Recommendation 4 by the Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC), the college’s accreditation body, mandates SLOs and is a critical element in getting the college off probationary status.

Academic Senate President Angelina E. Stuart warned in a global e-mail on March 4 that SWC could reach “show cause” status if there were any missing SLOs in the March 15 report to WASC. SLO coordinator Patricia Flores-Charter said she articulated with administration and faculty all along that the deadline included more than just “progress made” and was not surprised with the sudden scramble to demonstrate to WASC that SWC was serious about meeting this recommendation in full. She said there is a firm schedule in place now for planning, implementation and assessment of SLOs.

Faculty, staff and students developed more than 232 program SLOs in less than a week. Stuart said all course and program SLOs met the developmental level of implementation required by WASC. She said 100 percent of course and program SLOs were written and uploaded in the CurricuNET program. All areas of the college, including academic, student service and administrative unit outcomes must participate annually in the implementation and assessment of SLOs.

An SLO Help Center staged in room L238 allowed three full working days for help in writing and uploading program SLOs. Stuart said she was impressed by the determination of the campus community to come together to get the job done.

“Many believed the task before us was impossible,” she said. “But I went home and thought about my faculty and believed they could do it.”

Flores-Charter said Professor of Communication Dr. Rebecca Wolniewicz, created the SLO program writing workroom. Librarian Diane Gustafson, Accreditation Oversight Committee Co-chair Ron Vess and Stuart worked with faculty in shifts to complete program SLOs.

Faculty Union President, Andy MacNeill said Don Avril, a college accreditation consultant, said the work done is a good sign. MacNeill said considering the college’s previous environment over the last two years it was “amazing” to see this collegial project in action. He said SCEA has been at the table all along and discussed “where we need to go with things.”

“We’ve been working on it for a lot more than a week,” he said. “The fact the actual production has been happening in the last week wasn’t because we didn’t know what we were doing or didn’t have the dialogue. We weren’t given the opportunity.”

Flores-Charter is widely acknowledged as the SLO expert, but faced extreme roadblocks from SWC’s previous administration, she said. Controversy surrounded her removal as SLO coordinator by former superintendent, Dr. Raj K. Chopra and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Meadows.

She was replaced by former SWC dean Mary Wylie on September 8, 2010, resulting in a cease and desist demand from the SCEA. MacNeill called it a “political football” and outside the realm of fair bargaining while Robert Unger, faculty union grievance chair, called it a “scab” job and encouraged faculty not to apply for the position. Flores-Charter was restored to the position after a six-month standoff between Chopra and the union over reassigned time negotiations. She said she is continuing to focus her energy towards meeting WASC requirements, despite the challenges.

MacNeill said he saw staff, students, administrators and faculty put in “ridiculously long hours” to accomplish SLO requirements.

“What was most inspiring is the way they went about it,” he said. “Sure there were periods of worrying, stress and near meltdown, but they were minimal in comparison to the laughter, good cheer, fun and genuine camaraderie witnessed, even late at night.”

SLOs are in assessment phase already, said Flores-Charter, and spring semester will see a campus-wide system pilot program to implement them. She said most faculty have used SLOs for years.

Previous pilot programs demonstrate a history of implementation and assessment, she said.

“There will be several options of choice on how a course or program is assessed SLOs,” she said. “Each SLO will find which process best fits its curriculum or program.”

Stuart said language in the March 15 SWC report to WASC concerning SLOs reflects transparency, openness, honesty and truthfulness.

“We are totally transparent with WASC, telling them that we discovered that we were only at 31 percent and that we did them in March,” said Stuart. “So they do not come and say you tried to sneak one past us. Transparency and openness are important. We get good points for being honest and truthful.”

Interim Superintendent Denise Whittaker said training and meetings with instructional and non-instructional departments and divisions ensure active participation in SLO development and assessment.

“With the Institutional SLO Coordinator reporting directly to the superintendent,” she said, “the Accreditation Commission can trust that appropriate leadership, guidance, and support are provided to ensure on-going sustainability and integrated use of SLO assessment data for continuous quality improvement.”

MacNeill said some faculty members refused to write SLOs, but while they are a WASC mandate, who actually completes the job is up for debate.

Writing SLOs is not a part of a professor’s contract, but teachers may be inclined to get involved for quality control purposes, he said.

“You can’t make people to do SLOs. If they are philosophically against it, they can’t be forced,” said MacNeill. “But if you leave it to someone else, you may not like what it looks like. Someone will have to do it.”

Flores-Charter said the use of SLOs for planning and instructional improvement has proven to be effective in the Midwest for years. It is an integrated institutionalized system to drive the continuous improvements of student learning.

“What is beneficial to students is it requires our college community to take a look at what we want students to be able to do and communicate it in a way that is clear and comprehensive to all of them,” she said.

The purpose of SLOs is to orient students to understand expectations of learning in a course or program of study, she said. Divided into four core concepts, teachers and programs can choose one or all of the concepts in curriculum. The four areas of assessment are communication, thinking and reasoning, information competency (technology) and global awareness.

“The difference here is that a student would keep a conscious level of understanding learning objective all semester long,” she said. “This process would follow them through their higher educational pursuits and by the time they hit university levels, they will be pros at it.”

The Neighborhood Files

Jim and Ann Elliott Talk About the Politics Behind Building Western Graphics

The business’s founders were the featured guests at the Lemon Grove Historical Society’s “History Alive!” lecture on March 3.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | March 8, 2011

Jim and Ann Elliott had no idea what they were in for when they founded Western Graphics in Lemon Grove in 1974. But they soon found the growing, fast-paced world of politics, printing, mail and consulting. It was a business the Elliotts fell in love with, despite the long hours and crazy days. And it was that love that nurtured Western Graphics into a dynamic company.

On Thursday, Jim and Ann shared their personal journey at the H. Lee House Cultural Center during the History Alive! monthly lecture hosted by the Lemon Grove Historical Society. The fireside chat was filled with tales of politics, mailers and the adventures of growing a successful business.

Ann Elliott said the best thing about starting their business was finding Lemon Grove.

“We just loved this little town. Still do,” she says. “It is a great place to have a business and a fantastic town.”

The Elliotts originally purchased land in Lemon Grove to build a house, then used that property and their savings to create Western Graphics. Ann and Jim say they were not prepared for the long hours and stress of a new business. Jim said his relationship with Ann was special as they worked together to build the trade.

“We were both scared to death,” Jim says.

The first piece of equipment the Elliotts purchased was an antiquated typesetter that Ann learned to operate. One of the first jobs she worked on was Abe and Me, a book about a man and his dog written by a certain San Diego sportswriter—the legendary Jack Murphy.

“As I am going through chapter by chapter I am getting wrapped up in this story,” she says. “Jim walked in as I was near the end of the book and I am crying. Jim looked at me and said, ‘I guess the dog died.’ And he did.”

It was not long before Western Graphics earned a reputation in the political arena. Jim Elliott says they had hundreds of customers. One day, right after a primary election, he was summoned to Sacramento to see Willie Brown, the powerful speaker of the California State Assembly.

“Bear in mind that Ann and I are Republicans,” he says. “However, we much prefer working for Democrats. For many years, we did all of the work for Assembly Democrats.”

One of the most interesting campaigns was right here in Lemon Grove when Steve Baldwin was running for the Assembly, Jim says. It was one of hundreds of campaigns but probably the most famous mailer he did. It helped Tom Connolly defeat Baldwin. The mailer read: “When he claimed the United States Air Force had an ‘official witch’ … it was funny. But when you learn more about Steve Baldwin … IT’S NOT FUNNY … IT’S SCARY.”

“I love negative campaigning and it works,” Jim says. “I designed a lot of these pieces. I am not afraid at all to do a hit piece.”

It was just part of the business, he says, and not unusual to print and mail 100,000 pieces in two days for multiple candidates.

“It is war by direct mail,” he says. “Somebody gets attacked, someone responds and it goes back and forth.”

Ann says working in the world of politics was an eye-opening experience for other reasons.

“A good many of the politicians we worked with, even if we did not agree with them philosophically, they tried very hard to do the very best job possible,” she says. “That was something that was nice to learn. You often hear all of the negative stuff, but there is another side.”

In 2007, after more than three decades of leading the region’s graphics market, the Elliotts decided it was time to sell. Ann said one of her best memories is their last day in business, when she realized that it had been worth all the years of hard work.

“We had a lot of hugs and it was a great day,” she says. “When we thought back on everything that had gone on, we had wonderful experiences and so many incredible things had happened.”

Western Graphics was sold to Eye/Comm Inc., a direct marketing company in Santee.

Jim still sells and creates direct mail packages from his office in Lemon Grove. He says Ann won’t let him stay home.

“We had had enough fun,” Ann says. “The company that we really wanted to take over did. They were willing to take on all of our employees and that was important to us.”

Distinguished Lemon Grovian to Be Featured at 46th Annual Congress of History Conference

The Neighborhood Files

Distinguished Lemon Grovian to Be Featured at 46th Annual Congress of History Conference

San Diego County’s best historians present a two-day history lesson on the great women of the region’s past and present, including the late Dr. Amorita Treganza.

By Albert Fulcher | Email the author | March 1, 2011

Take a day off for history’s sake.

On Friday and Saturday, historical societies from San Diego and Imperial counties will join forces in Balboa Park for a conference honoring women who have made a difference in the region’s history.

With an array of lectures, tours and presentations, the 46th Annual Congress of History Conference covers women from the precolonial era straight through the 20th century. The theme is “They Made a Difference: The Unsung History of Women in the San Diego Region.”

Two local historians will be taking part, and the late Dr. Amorita Treganza, a groundbreaking pediatric optometrist whose family’s roots run deep in Lemon Grove, will be the subject of a presentation by Helen Ofield, president of the Lemon Grove Historical Society.

Ofield is looking forward to her lecture about Treganza, whom she knew well. Ofield followed her as president of the historical society.

“She was such a distinguished Lemon Grovian,” she said. “A giant in her field, she took optometry patients from infancy and followed them through their teens.”

Treganza, who lived in Lemon Grove from 1926 until her death in 2002, stepped into uncharted territory with a trailblazing approach that addressed the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of the patients in her practice, she said.

But that’s not all. Treganza had also been a Spanish dancer, lemon fruit packer and actor. As a physician, she was the first woman to head a national medical association, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development. Her father, Alberto O. Treganza, was a noted architect and designer of the Big Lemon, which was created as a parade float in 1928 and now greets everyone to Lemon Grove at the intersection of Broadway and Lemon Grove Avenue. Her mother, Antwonet Kaufman Treganza, was the first woman to head the Lemon Grove Chamber of Commerce and serve as postmaster.

Lemon Grove’s Helen Halmay is one of the event’s organizers. She became involved with the Congress of History Conference in 1994, when she was presented with an award for her fight to preserve Art Deco architecture in San Diego. She currently serves as the Congress’ financial secretary.

“After the awards ceremony, I asked them if Lemon Grove was represented at the Congress,” she said. “They told me no, so I later asked the board of the Lemon Grove Historical Society if I could represent them at the Congress. They said yes, and I was hooked.”

Halmay is a journalist, graphic artist and architectural historian. She has been editor of the Congress’ newsletter, Adelante, for 17 years, putting all her skills to work to make a difference in the region’s historical community. Adelante has grown from a two-page typewritten newsletter in 1964 to a bi-monthly issue more than 10 times that size. An “Adelante Conference Special Edition” will be given to all attendees at the conference.

She said this year, working with co-sponsors Women’s Museum of California and the Historic Resources Board of the city of San Diego, the two-day event offers a wealth of activities, exhibits and speakers. She said this is the first time the Congress has focused exclusively on the history of local women.

“All of this gives me a warm glow that keeps me going,” Halmay said. “I am so pleased and gratified that we are creating this one-of-a-kind experience for our members and the public. With our conference co-sponsors we are bringing their knowledge and expertise to help make this event truly spectacular.”

Former Assemblywoman Lucy Killea is the keynote speaker. Killea, who served in the California Legislature from 1989 to 1996, as well as one term on the San Diego City Council, was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002 for her commitment to improving the lives of women.

Congress President Alexander D. Bevil said this year’s conference has an eclectic collection of presentations on some well-known and perhaps forgotten San Diego women. Hazel Wood Waterman was one of the first 20th century California women to become a successful architect. She is best known for restoring the historic Casa de Estudillo in 1910 in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, one of the oldest surviving adobe homes from California’s Mexican Rancho Period.

“One of her contemporaries, Julia Clark, was one of San Diego’s ‘First Ladies of Flight,’ ” he said. “Faced with gender bias, ridicule and sabotage, her single-minded determination made it culturally acceptable for women to fly.”

He said 22-year-old Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick proved women could do astounding things after jumping out of an airplane at 3,000 feet during the 1915 Exposition in Balboa Park.

“They all made some impact in promoting a woman’s place in society—sometimes against great odds, sexual prejudice and danger,” he said.

Halmay said she just wants women to know how exciting this event is for the Congress and everyone involved. As each year’s event has its own theme, she said she does not know when people will have this opportunity to learn so much about the history of the women in this region.

“It’s now or never folks!” she said.

Event Information

“They Made a Difference: The Unsung History of Women in the San Diego Region” will be Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5, in Balboa Park’s Santa Fe Room at the Balboa Park Club and the Ballroom & Recital Hall.

Event hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, with registration at 9 a.m.; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, with registration at 9:30 a.m. The registration fee is $25 for both days, seniors 65 and older are $20 and students with ID are $15.

Box lunches for both days can be purchased. Entry will be through the Santa Fe Room in the Balboa Park Club building on both days.

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