Summer Update #2

As we end our second week of classes during Summer Sessions 2020, I wanted to provide you this college update.

Acknowledging Amazing Work: As I reflect back on spring semester 2020, one thought summarizes my feelings for PVCC:  “Your collective work to transition PVCC, in the midst of an international pandemic, to an almost entirely virtual learning, support service, and working environment in less than three weeks is simply extraordinary.” At every turn, I heard comments such as “We can make this happen.” “We’ll figure this out.” “Students are depending on us.” Thank you.

Beginning on June 15, approximately seventeen courses from spring semester will finish in a safe, in-person environment. My thanks to the faculty and Occupational Program Directors leading these efforts on behalf of our students.

College Budget: I’ve approved the college’s FY21 overall operating/capital budgets. I am also pleased to report that PVCC has received an additional $149,678 in base budget and $216,365 in one-time-only funds from the District. These additional new funds will be applied to student success projects supporting Guided Pathways, marketing outreach and contingency needs. On a related note, given that enrollment projections are uncertain for 2020-2021, we will continue to carefully review all open positions before decisions are made to fill these lines.

CARES Act Institutional Funds: PVCC has been awarded approximately $1.2m in funds by the Federal government to cover the institutional costs related to transitioning our in-person classes to the online space. Expenses need to fall into one of the following categories: student support, technology, or instructional support. We’ve already spent significant, unbudgeted funds to extend the spring semester by two weeks.

PVCC Student Emergency Funds: Under the leadership of Jessi Wright and her team in the Development Office, we have raised $31,912 since February, allowing the distribution of over $25,000 to 86 students for much needed emergency grants. My thanks to all who supported this fundraising effort.

Futures Work: Given the level of societal disruption caused by the pandemic, we know that PVCC will evolve and adapt to new societal and higher education realities. To this end, over forty PVCC faculty and staff have been engaged since late March in social action research to lay the foundation for the future of PVCC. The Futures Group problem statement is: Ensure that PVCC is accessible to all students, relevant, organizationally sustained, and thriving while transitioning through and beyond the pandemic. Five work groups including: student needs, faculty/staff needs, course delivery models, societal norms, and organizational risk are in the process of completing a summary of findings that will then be synthesized into a set of college recommendations.

All-College Meeting: Please plan to join your colleagues for an open meeting on Tuesday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. for an important conversation around the current national events that have once again exposed the continued systemic racism that dramatically and adversely impacts the African-American life experience in the United States. We will explore the impact on PVCC and potential action plans moving forward.

Stay safe.

Extraordinary Hurt and Anguish

With the convergence of three national crises – the recent deaths of George Floyd while in the custody of police and Breonna Taylor, shot by police in her apartment, and the resulting righteous protests, the persistent and overwhelming pandemic, and the growing economic downturn manifested by historical levels of unemployment, I am struck by how much further this nation needs to progress in the collective journey towards positive social change and fair-minded critical thinking. Ibram X. Kendi in his book How to be an Antiracist wrote “Racist ideas love believers, not thinkers.”

Our current reality is that African-Americans and people of color are disproportionality and adversely impacted by both the pandemic and the looming unemployment crisis. Both of these outcomes are resultant of hundreds of years of systemic and structural racism and discrimination.

Additionally, African-American men and women continue to be victims of unimaginable and extreme brutality while in police custody. In the reality of this weekend, I can’t begin to presume the grief and anger the Floyd and Taylor families must be feeling. We all should feel hurt and anguish.

But let’s not let hurt and anguish be where our feelings and actions stop. If PVCC is to be part of the solution around any of these three national crises, we need for these feelings to then translate into compassion, empathy and love for all. We need to do more than just commenting after the fact on the injustices or academically articulate on the impact of fair-minded critical thinking.  We as fair-minded critical thinkers and leaders need to be more “all in” every day.

These events have caused me to pause and reflect on the following questions: To what degree are our efforts around equity and diversity and inclusion really making a difference? How can we accelerate the accomplishment of our diversity and inclusion goals that are a part of our long-standing culture at PVCC?

These are extraordinary times providing PVCC an opportunity to confront pain with a renewed commitment to sustained positive social change.  Following the system-wide conversations announced today by the Chancellor, PVCC will hold several open, virtual conversations  to better understand and challenge our actions moving forward. Details of our conversations will be available soon.