Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Citrus College:  A College of Completion—and More
By Paula Green

On August 24, celebration and inspiration defined the mood of Citrus College faculty, staff and student leaders as they welcomed one another from summer break during the college’s fall Convocation.  The annual event, which launched the official start of the 2012-2013 academic year, recapped the college’s accomplishments during the previous academic year, introduced 20 new faculty and staff members, and presented service awards to 83 employees who collectively represented a total of more than 1,000 years of service to the college.   Sixteen faculty and staff were honored as “Shining Stars,” members of the college community who best exemplified the college’s mission, vision and values. 


In her annual State of the College address, Superintendent/President Geraldine M. Perri presented “examples of the many ways Citrus College has been thriving during these challenging times” and commended the college community for its stellar achievements during the previous academic year.


Dr. Perri recalled accomplishments such as the 2012 Commencement, where 1,332 associate degrees— the most in the college’s history—were conferred on nearly 1,100 students, while more than 500 students participated in the Commencement ceremony.  For the first time, 42 Citrus College students graduated with Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T) degrees that provided them with access to the California State University system, a result of Senate Bill 1440, passed by the California State Legislature in 2010. 


Citrus College continued to receive national attention as a leader among the nation’s 1,200 community colleges.  For the sixth consecutive year, the college was recognized by Community College Week magazine as a “Top Producer” in areas such as associate degrees awarded to Hispanic students (33rd) , associate degrees awarded to all minority students (65th) and associate degrees awarded to Asian-American students (87th).  The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education also listed Citrus College in its annual “Top 50 Community Colleges” issue.   The college ranked among the top 50 colleges in the nation in the Hispanic Full-time Enrollment (45th), Community Colleges by Hispanic Faculty (40th) and Hispanics Awarding Associate Degrees categories (40th). 


In addition, during 2011-2012, the college garnered an unprecedented $8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education that will enable the college to provide academic programs and services in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields (STEM) and to prepare future educators in the effective use of technology in the classroom.


The college’s theme for the new academic year, “Citrus College:  A College of Completion” was introduced and drew praise from the Convocation attendees.  The theme was inspired by a new, student-driven initiative, the Citrus College Completion Corps (CCCC) developed by members of the Citrus College chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK) and inspired by a survey research project they presented at a conference.  CCCC addresses students’ concerns and interests, such as effective time management, utilizing the college’s academic support services and mentoring one another.  Its goal is to increase the number of students who complete their studies at Citrus College and continue to pursue higher education and career opportunities.


“In our research, we learned of the college’s valuable support services, but not all students were utilizing them effectively,” said Susan Vong, PTK vice president for scholarship.  “Thus, the CCCC encourages students to see using these services as a wise use of their time.”


The idea of students empowering their cohorts is a driving force behind the CCCC.  “Not only do they want to encourage study time,” said Lisa Telesca, language arts instructor and PTK co-advisor, “the students also want to create a culture that empowers students to take control of their education.”


As she introduced the CCCC initiative and invited the audience to sign a commitment to completion pledge, Dr. Perri reminded the audience of Citrus College’s 96-year legacy of student success.  Referring to a video shown earlier in the program that featured alumni narratives, Dr. Perri said, “As evidenced by our students, you are definitely making a difference in lives by lending a hand—or a shoulder—in support of educational journeys.”


Trustee Joanne Montgomery, president of the Citrus Community College District Board of Trustees, expressed pride in the college’s progress and in its renewed commitment to student success.  “I was thrilled to recall the highlights of the past year, and I look forward to seeing our students accomplish great things this year.”