San Mateo County Community College District enrollment on rise

Officials look to understand influences on uptick for future sustained growth

By Sierra Lopez
The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

The San Mateo County Community College District surpassed its enrollment goal this fall semester and trustees are now eager to understand what enabled that growth so it can be harnessed moving forward.

“Whenever we have a success like this we need to completely celebrate it but then also be mindful to understand what is it we did that really made that difference, and is that what needs to be done next or is there another shift or change that needs to be made,” board President Lisa Petrides said during a Board of Trustees meeting Oct. 25.

After years of enrollment declines, the district saw a 16% uptick in local students signing up for courses in the fall, according to data presented by Dr. Aaron McVean, vice chancellor of Educational Services and Planning. That increase does not include international students or dual-enrollment high school students.

Officials had initially expected to see a 15% increase in enrollment, or about 16,000 students in classrooms after enrollment also grew by 10% this spring compared to the spring of 2022. Both upticks in enrollment follow about a decade of concerning local and statewide dips.

McVean also highlighted other positive trends. The district saw a substantial increase in first-time students including the largest incoming Promise Scholars cohort in the program’s history.

The district saw a significant decrease in the number of students who have not declared their intent to earn a certificate, degree or transfer with a degree, also known as an “ACE” goal. By declaring a goal, students are provided access to more financial assistance and counseling services.

“To see such large increases in students connected to that goal means that they’re connected now to our programs and services and we hope that we will be able to see them through completion,” McVean said.

Increasing enrollment has been a specific focus for the district in recent years. It’s begun expanding its footprint into the coastside to encourage students to enroll in courses who may struggle to get to existing campuses. Officials also tapped the marketing firm VisionPoint Marketing for assistance with planning near- and long-term strategies for improving enrollment.

The district is also one of a few in the state piloting a free college program following the approval of Senate Bill 893. The bill took effect at the start of this year and allows the district to waive and use unrestricted funds to cover a state-mandatory $46 per unit enrollment fee for county residents.

Trustees are now eager to understand which of the recent changes or interventions have had an influence on improved enrollment. McVean said staff has planned to survey students soon but theorized reduced cost barriers were a major boost to enrollment.

Understanding the influence of each intervention would enable the district to further focus outreach efforts, trustees noted. The district does currently focus on target groups including the Filipino community, other minority groups, and those living in underserved communities but board Vice President John Pimentel noted enrollment among Black and Pacific Islander residents was extremely low, totaling just 243 students.

“There’s still a lot of opportunity and a lot of work for us to do with everything that we have been starting to do in a much more aggressive way,” Pimentel said. “Now is the time to really double down on that and hopefully that will improve these numbers for the fall even further.”

District Seeking Educational Housing Corporation Board Members 

The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) is seeking members of the public to serve as directors on the Educational Housing Corporation Board. The Board seeks to advance education by supporting SMCCCD in its efforts to attract and retain qualified educational employees by managing and operating affordable housing for such employees. 

Applications are now being accepted from any eligible person, 18 years or older, interested in filling a vacancy. Individuals with professional expertise in residential property management/operations, legal and/or financial experience in housing-related issues, or closely related experiences are encouraged to apply. The application form is available at the SMCCCD Educational Housing Corporation Board website and must be submitted by midnight, October 6, 2023. 

Applications will be reviewed at the next public Educational Housing Corporation Board meeting on October 19 at 3:00 pm. Following the review, the Educational Housing Corporation Board of Directors will submit recommendations to the SMCCCD Trustees for final appointments during their regular public Board of Trustees meeting on October 25 at 6:00 pm. 

Educational Housing Corporation Board Directors serve staggered four-year terms and may serve a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms. At least two, but not more than four, vacant positions are currently open.  

About the SMCCCD Employee Housing Program: In response to regional housing costs that are among the highest in the country, SMCCCD has undertaken initiatives to assist faculty and staff with high housing expenses. The District owns and operates 134 housing units at College of San Mateo, Cañada College, and Skyline College campuses, available to faculty and staff (who meet the definition of first-time homebuyers). Employees can live in these units for up to seven years and pay rent well below market rate.  Residents of the employee housing program are strongly encouraged to save the money from their reduced rent to apply toward a down payment to buy housing in the area.   

About San Mateo County Community College District: The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. The District’s three colleges, Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, serve more than 28,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs. For more information: https://smccd.edu/ 

National Student Clearinghouse Data Breach

The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) was informed about a recent data breach at our third-party vendor National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) involving their MOVEit Transfer Application. NSC’s services are used by higher education institutions that distribute Federal Financial Aid as required by the Department of Education. 

The data breach didn’t impact SMCCCD information systems or WebSMART. 

SMCCCD shares data with the NSC, and some of that data includes personally identifiable information (P.I.I.). The NSC has not yet identified what sensitive information was accessed, and they continue investigating this breach. At this time, we do not know who has been impacted or what data has been lost. 

SMCCCD has received notice that our data submitted to NSC may be affected, and we are actively monitoring this situation to address any concerns that may arise. We will continue to gather information and provide updates as needed. 

Students and alumni impacted by this breach will receive separate notifications via USPS & email from the National Student Clearinghouse. 

In the meantime, SMCCCD students and alumni should protect their identity and personal information by taking the following steps: 

  • Monitor credit card and bank activity for suspicious activity and report it to your financial institution immediately. 
  • Pull your FREE credit reports through the Annual Credit Report.com which is authorized through the Federal Law. 
  • Consider placing fraud alerts and credit freezes on your accounts using Experian or Credit Karma
  • Avoid opening suspicious emails. 
  • Update your passwords frequently. 

More detailed information about the data breach can be found on the National Student Clearinghouse alert webpage.  

San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees Unanimously Appoints Skyline College President Dr. Melissa Moreno as Interim Chancellor

San Mateo, Calif., (February 23, 2023) – Last night, the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously selected Dr. Melissa Moreno to serve as the District’s Interim Chancellor.

With over 25 years of higher education experience, Dr. Moreno most recently served as the President of Skyline College, a position she has held since August 2020.

“In Dr. Moreno, we have selected a higher education leader that is truly focused on the overall well- being of our students, and our valued team members,” said Dr. Lisa Petrides, President, San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Dr. Moreno for her partnership, and for her steadfast commitment to our mission of making access to higher education a right for all in San Mateo County.”

Prior to serving as President of Skyline College, Dr. Moreno has held a myriad of positions within higher education that have led her from serving as adjunct faculty to Vice President. While serving at Santa Barbara City College, Dr. Moreno was the founding director of the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, one of the leading institutes for entrepreneurship in California, and as the founding Vice President of the School of Extended Learning.

“Having devoted the majority of my career to higher education, I am humbled by the trust bestowed upon me by the Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Melissa Moreno, Interim Chancellor, San Mateo County Community College District. “As the District’s newest caretaker, I will work with our stakeholders and community to ensure that our nationally recognized college district sets the example in our State for progressive and equitable educational opportunities for our most disproportionately impacted student populations that works to remove barriers to their success.”

Dr. Moreno holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and Juris Doctorate from Santa Barbara College of Law. She is also licensed to practice law in the state of California.

She will begin as Interim Chancellor on April 1, 2023.

San Mateo County Community College District Accepting Applications for Board Vacancy in Trustee Area 3

San Mateo, CA (January 13, 2023) – On December 13, 2022, Governing board member Goodman vacated his seat on the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees creating a Board Vacancy for Trustee Area 3. At a Special Board Meeting on December 20, 2022, the San Mateo County Community College District Board took action to fill this vacancy by making a provisional appointment. The appointee will hold office until the next governing board member election, which occurs at the Statewide General Election in November 2024.

The Board approved a timeline and process at a Special Board Meeting on January 10, 2023. According to California Education Code 72103: Any person, regardless of sex, who is 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the state, a resident of the community college, a registered voter, and who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, is eligible to be elected or appointed a member of a governing board of a community college district without further qualifications.

Applications are now being accepted from any eligible person interested in filling this vacancy. Applications are available at: https://smccd.edu/boardoftrustees/board-vacancy.php and must be submitted by Saturday, February 4, 2023. No late applications will be accepted.

All applicants who are eligible will be interviewed at a public Special Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. Following the interviews, the Board will appoint the provisional Board Member, and administer the Oath of Office.

About San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD): The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. Our colleges serve more than 20,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs.

For more information: https://smccd.edu/

San Mateo County Community College District Announces Board Vacancy

College district board inviting Area 3 residents to apply to fill open seat 

San Mateo, CA (December 22, 2022) – On December 13, 2022, Governing board member Maurice Goodman vacated his seat on the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees, as he was sworn-in to serve on the Millbrae City Council. Upon being sworn-in, Governing board member Goodman vacated his seat on the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees creating a Board vacancy for Area 3. At a Special Board Meeting on December 20, 2022, the San Mateo County Community College District Board took action to fill this vacancy by making a provisional appointment rather than holding a costly special election. 

The Board will discuss and approve the vacancy timeline and process at a Special Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2023. Per the California Education Code, the Board now has 60 days from the effective date of the resignation (December 13, 2022) to make the provisional appointment. The appointee will hold office until the next governing board member election, which occurs at the Statewide General Election in November 2024. 

Applications will be available from any qualified person interested in filling this vacancy in January 2023. All eligible residents residing in Trustee Area 3 are welcome to apply. According to California Education Code 35107(a): Any person, regardless of sex, who is 18 years of age or older, a citizen of the state, a resident of the school district, a registered voter, and who is not disqualified by the Constitution or laws of the state from holding a civil office, is eligible to be elected or appointed a member of a governing board of a school district without further qualifications

Applicants selected will be interviewed at a Special Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. The Board will appoint the provisional board member and administer the oath of office at a following meeting. 

About San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD): The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. Our colleges serve more than 20,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs. 

For more information: https://smccd.edu

San Mateo County Community College District Announces Three Finalists for Position of Chancellor

San Mateo, CA (11/23/22) – The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD), announced today the finalists for the District’s chancellor position.  This announcement comes after a national search that fielded a highly qualified and diverse pool of candidates.

A screening committee, comprised of faculty, staff, students, administrators, board members and community representatives held initial interviews with candidates and has recommended the following candidates to the Board of Trustees for consideration:

  • Santanu BandyopadhyayPh.D. – currently president at Modesto Junior College in the Yosemite Community College District 
  • Bradley Davis, J.D. – currently the Chancellor at West Valley-Mission Community College District 
  • Rowena M. Tomaneng, Ed.D. – currently president at San José City College in the San José Evergreen Community College District 

SMCCCD will host three virtual forums to introduce candidates Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, Bradley Davis, and Dr. Rowena M. Tomaneng to the public. 

The SMCCCD virtual forums will be held on Wednesday, November 30, 2022. Community members are welcome to attend and learn about the candidates. The forums will take place during the following times: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM, and 4 PM – 5 PM via zoom. For more information visit: https://smccd.edu/chancellor-search/SMCCCD%20Chancellor%20Finalist%20Forums.php

Santanu Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D.

Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay has had leadership roles in three community colleges: Cypress, Columbia and Modesto Junior College. He currently serves as the President of Modesto Junior College. He previously served as the President of Columbia College within the same District beginning in July 2018. As the Executive Vice President at Cypress College from July 2013 to July 2018, Dr. Bandyopadhyay was responsible for both instructional programs and student services and was involved in leading national initiatives such as “Achieving the Dream” and “Survey of Entering Student Engagement” 

A first-generation immigrant, Dr. Bandyopadhyay earned his MBA and Ph.D. at Ohio University after a successful career in teaching and market research in India. He taught Computer Science at the National Institute of Information Technology.

Bradley Davis, J.D.

Bradley Davis has more than two decades of senior administrative experience in public higher education in California. He is currently in his fourth year as the chancellor of the West Valley-Mission Community College District in Santa Clara County. As chancellor, he oversees a multi-college district that encompasses both West Valley College in Saratoga and Mission College in Santa Clara. Under his leadership, the district has taken steps to waive parking, health services, and childcare costs for students at the two colleges, and recently passed a resolution to waive all tuition and enrollment fees for residents.

Prior to being selected as chancellor, Davis held the position of president at West Valley College for seven years. Mr. Davis holds a juris doctorate from Syracuse University’s College of Law and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gannon University where he lettered in two NCAA Division II sports, baseball, and basketball.

Dr. Rowena M. Tomaneng, Ed.D.

Dr. Rowena M. Tomaneng has over 27 years of administrative and teaching experience in higher education and currently serves as the President of San José City College (SJCC) in the San José Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD). She has worked to develop innovative partnerships that provide academic and career education pathways for the diverse student populations of SJCC and SJCC’s Milpitas Extension. 

Prior to SJCC, Dr. Tomaneng served as President of Berkeley City College (BCC) in the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) and served in multiple administrative roles at De Anza College in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. She also served as a faculty director and was a 12-year faculty member of English, Intercultural Studies, and Women’s Studies. 

Dr. Tomaneng earned her Ed.D. in International and Multicultural Education, Human Rights Concentration from the University of San Francisco, M.A. in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and B.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine.  

About San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD): The SMCCCD is a three-college district located between San Francisco and San Jose in the Silicon Valley. Our colleges serve more than 20,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of degree and transfer programs, as well as vocational-technical programs. 

For more information: https://smccd.edu/  

SMCCCD Students Rally for Free Community College

On September 22, in a ceremony held at Cañada College, students and leaders from throughout San Mateo County rallied in support of Senate Bill 893.

Written as a pilot program for San Mateo County, SB 893 would allow for the San Mateo County Community College District to operate a program that will pay the tuition and enrollment fees for students from underrepresented and marginalized communities. With the Governor’s signing of the bill, SMCCCD will be able to expand its free community college initiative and Promise Scholars Program from its current total of 2,200 students to nearly 6,000 students.

“After meeting with community college leaders in my district, it became clear to me that State action was needed in order to make college accessible to everyone seeking an education in San Mateo County. This is a big idea, and one that I believe SB 893 will address,” said Josh Becker, State Senator (D-Menlo Park). “San Mateo County Community College District advised me that state law requires colleges to charge almost $1,500 per year in tuition and fees for full time students. If the Governor signs SB 893, we will be able to build a bridge and provide opportunities that will help close the achievement gap here in San Mateo County. It is my hope that this bill will help families use community college as a stepping stone to improving their economic mobility and their future.”

No stranger to the concept of free community college, in 2021, SMCCCD’s Board of Trustees invested $6.75 million into developing their initial Free Community College Initiative, and an additional $6 million has been allocated in the District’s 2022-23 budget to implement SB893. Through that investment, SMCCCD has been able to create a dual enrollment program with local high schools, book vouchers, and assists student with basic needs, including food and transportation.

“As a college district, it is our core mission to ensure that every resident of our community has access to educational opportunities,” said Richard Holober, President, San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees. “On behalf of our college district family, I would like to thank Senator Becker for his partnership and willingness to support students in our community who are working to make their dreams a reality.”

Chancellor Search 2022

The Board of Trustees has embarked on a nationwide search for a new Chancellor to lead the San Mateo County Community College District. The Board has identified a screening committee to lead this search and has published a position announcement and timeline available to the community. Please visit this page for future updates.

District Seeking Housing Board Members

The San Mateo County Community College District is seeking community applications for membership on the District’s Educational Housing Corporation Board of Directors.

The District owns and operates 134 housing units at its College of San Mateo, Cañada College and Skyline College campuses, which are available to faculty and staff within the District.  Employees are eligible to live in these units for up to seven years and are strongly encouraged to save the money from their reduced rent to apply toward a down payment to buy housing in the area or for future housing needs.  The District also has a second loan program for homebuyers that will supplement the employees’ down payment savings up to $150,000 and a closing cost grant for $1,000.

The Educational Housing Corporation Board of Directors is charged with overseeing the employee housing program and setting policies and managing operations that further the program’s goals of providing affordable housing options to allow for the recruitment and retention of District employees.  The Board serves in a volunteer capacity and is comprised of District stakeholders and community experts.

DESIRED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES

The District is seeking individuals who have expertise in residential property management/operations, legal and/or financial experience in housing-related issues, or closely related experiences.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Individuals interested in being appointed to the Educational Housing Corporation Board should submit a letter of interest to the District’s Board of Trustees and include:

  1. Statement of interest in serving on the Housing Board, including relevant experience.
  2. Brief biography/resume of professional work.

For priority consideration, letters of interest should be received by September 2, 2022, via email to baileym@smccd.edu.

QUESTIONS: Contact Mitchell Bailey via email at baileym@smccd.edu or by calling 650-574-6510.