This is an unparalleled time of uncertainty and anxiety for many in the Mendocino-Lake family. The current fires, evacuation notices, and air quality issues have compounded levels of stress created by the COVID pandemic. First and foremost we need to be compassionate, empathetic, and understanding to all. Everyone is experiencing heighten levels of tension and nervousness.
As a reminder, this resource page was designed to provide quick information to students regarding mental health, food insecurity, emergency funds, and additional resources. It is also available on our website. Please share this with students in need of assistance.
For the employees of MLCCD there are benefits and resources available to you regarding leaves, employee assistance programs, health/wellness, and scheduling options. Working while providing schooling, childcare, and the scores of emergency situations (fires) taxes our resiliency. We are committed to protecting your health and safety. If you have questions about benefits or leaves, please contact Human Resources.
I appreciate you and all the time, dedication, and passion you have provided during these challenging times. Please continue to wear masks, wash your hands, and practice social distancing measures.
The beginning of each academic year is exciting. To launch the fall 2020 semester, we held an online (Zoom) opening day/In-Service on August 14, 2020 with all of our faculty and staff.
Being flexible and adaptive to the current health environment has made us pivot many services and instruction. Putting students first is our mantra. An example was modifying our traditional Week of Welcome (WOW) to a pop-up reception/greeter tent by our Ukiah campus entry gate for two weeks. The table was staffed by two volunteers each day from 10 am until 6 pm. All the volunteers deserve a huge thank you.
In my quest to connect with our community partners, I have had the opportunity over the past month to attend the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay Mendocino Advisory Subcommittee meeting, participate in two Move 2030 workgroups focused on diversifying industry and technology implementation, and an introductory meeting with West Business Development Center. The strong work Mendocino College has done in the workforce sector opens opportunities for the district to partner with other groups and agencies to serve the residents of Mendocino and Lake Counties.
My report will highlight student successes and updates on many programs and topics including, the status of our construction program, a fiscal recap, and the excellent work being done by our service and instructional areas.
Mendocino College Student Spotlights
Math student, LiaMari Cox was recently awarded a $3000 scholarship from the California Mathematics Council Community College (CMC^3) Foundation. The scholarship is a competitive regional scholarship funded by community college math faculty in Northern California and is open to students from member colleges. Lia was nominated for the award by Mendocino College (MC) Faculty Leslie Banta, with the support of other full-time faculty in the Math Department. Lia has also received scholarship support from the MC Foundation, recently receiving the Les Gregg Family Scholarship.
Lia’s level of curiosity about and understanding of mathematics is exceptionally rare and places her among the top students who have come through the MC Math Department. Her work is impeccable and she is able to communicate her thoughts about mathematics clearly and in a manner that allows the reader or listener to follow along almost effortlessly. “Lia is the kind of student we all dream of: diligent, curious, and passionate about her subject,” says Banta.
These scholarships have helped to support Lia’s continued academic achievement at a time when her family business has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 (besides being a student, she and her husband have a catering company).
MC Alumni Kelsey Pearl (photo top middle and right) appears in an episode of Wheel of Fortune! The video was shot prior to the pandemic but aired earlier this month. From Upper Lake High School, Kelsey Pearl was a two-sport student-athlete in her time at MC. At the beginning of the show, Kelsey describes herself as having done over 4,000 hours of community service in her life, which has earned her the lifetime achievement award for volunteers and a congressional award. Pearl’s niece, KJ Taylor (photo top left) was also an MC student-athlete in the 18/19 and 19/20 academic years.
Millie Hedman (photo left), from Fort Bragg, became a student at Mendocino College in the spring of 2018 while finishing up her high school diploma. She is majoring in business with the goal of one day opening a solar company. She was hesitant about online learning when she initially began due to COVID-19, but has overcome her fear and is now a pro. She was recently awarded a scholarship from the Mendocino College Foundation.
Rebeca Ortega (photo right) was born and raised in the small town of Hopland, California where her parents who immigrated from Mexico came to make a better life for their family. She graduated from Ukiah High School and went straight to Mendocino College. Rebeca says that Mendocino College provided her with the academic and financial tools needed to succeed and prepare her for a four-year university. She received a tremendous amount of assistance through programs like CAMP and EOPS. Scholarships and other college resources also helped break down barriers to her success as a student so she could figure out what she was truly passionate about. She earned her Associates of Arts for Transfer Degree in English from Mendocino College in 2017.
Her education has played a big role in her life as she is a first-generation college student. Thanks to the support from Mendocino College and her continued work ethic, she transferred to UC Berkeley where she studied for her Bachelor's Degree, majoring in English and minoring in Ethnic Studies. During her time at UC Berkeley, she served as the Co-President for the Student Organization, Students of Color Emerging in English and worked in the BUILD program teaching literacy skills to children. In her last year at Berkeley, she had the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand at the University of Waikato. Never did she imagine that she would be able to go abroad and study so far from her little hometown. In New Zealand, she learned so much about different world perspectives, cultures, and environments. She shares that she is grateful for this experience and encourages students who have the opportunity to learn outside of the US to go for it, as it will be overall worth it! In the spring of this year she has returned to her hometown and graduated from UC Berkeley.
Mendocino College North County Center Student Spotlights
Robin Holden (photo top left) is currently a Math Tutor on Mondays and Thursdays and also spends time at the North County Center to have a quiet space to do school work and get access to the internet.
Candice Luna (photo top middle), a current student at Mendocino College who also spends time at the North Center to have a quiet space to do school work and get access to the internet.
Mike Mondo (photo top right) is currently a student at Sonoma State University completing a Bachelor’s Degree. While attending Mendocino College he was using the Ukiah Campus Library for research and study purposes to achieve his Associates Degree in Liberal Studies. He uses the Mendocino College North County Center on a regular basis to have a quiet space to do his school work and get access to the internet.
Construction Program Update
Overview Background: On January 31, 2020, Senator Mike McGuire held a press conference at Mendocino College announcing the granting of one million dollars to the college to support our Construction program and to promote Fire Recovery throughout our district. The funding was provided to address the need for a workforce in the Construction Cluster. Not only is demand strong for construction employment, but these jobs spur further economic and employment development as a result of supplier relationships and employee spending. The purpose of the investment by the State of California of $1,000,000 is to provide support for our communities’ recovery by addressing the labor shortage and preparing skilled workers for improved earnings and living wage attainment.
This project will build on the program and courses already available in the college catalog with the Sustainable Construction and Energy Technology (SCT), which include certificates in Construction, Renewable Energy, and Building Efficiency & Performance. There are currently fifteen courses within this discipline that can be offered.
Progress to-date: In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, progress has been made:
- A non-credit Certificate in Construction has been developed and approved through our local curriculum process. This includes several non-credit courses that are modelled after the Construction Corps—a short-term construction program introducing students to the various skills of the trades and preparing them for entry level work in the field.
- A full-time faculty/coordinator has been hired and has begun working this semester. Noel Woodhouse, a longtime SCT part-time faculty, will lead the redevelopment of the construction program at Mendocino College.
- An additional faculty and classified staff from the Fine Woodworking Program have had part of their workload reassigned this semester as a result of not offering Fine Woodworking classes due to the pandemic. They will assist Mr. Woodhouse in development.
Current Work: Noel Woodhouse is working with Dean of Career Education, Dennis Aseltyne, to plan for short and long-term work. These activities include:
- Conducting an inventory of equipment and tools and identifying needs;
- Exploring pooling this funding with Strong Workforce Program funding and potential state matching funds to build a construction facility on the main campus or at the North County Center in Willits;
- Meeting with local established collaborative boards made up of educators, businesses, and workforce development agencies, such as the advisory board for the Ukiah High Scool Construction Corps meeting 9/2/20 made up of local building contractors in our district and building materials supply outlets in Mendocino County;
- Building partnerships with district high schools for dual/concurrent enrollment and pathways to and through college programs including a virtual meeting with CTE faculty and administrators from Mendocino College and Ukiah High School;
- Developing an advisory board specific to Mendocino College and this Fire Recovery program involving community partners in fire recovery efforts to date.
- Conducting a curriculum inventory and schedule analysis to identify needed updates to curriculum and to develop innovative scheduling strategies to make our program optimally relevant and accessible.
Current Challenges: Due to the pandemic, very few construction classes are offered this semester. While this may disrupt some momentum in enrollments in construction classes, we are hopeful that this planning period will allow us to present the community with a renewed marketing strategy as we rebuild a more robust scheduling of classes.
Continued Innovations in Online Education Support
The same experienced online instructors who have been providing one on one assistance to new online teachers have created a collaborative resource for Mendocino College faculty. The Faculty Helping Faculty canvas shell launched last month. This Canvas shell houses a checklist for new faculty, videos made by our faculty explaining certain Canvas tools, and other resources for new faculty. It also has a discussion board and place where faculty can ask questions. History faculty member Neeka Aguirre will be maintaining the site this semester, moderating discussions, answering questions, and enriching the resources.
Every semester, on an established cycle, full-time faculty evaluate the courses of their adjuncts. Of course, this will look different this fall. Distance Education Director Varela and Instructors Nicholas Petti and David Pai are collaborating with the instructional deans to create a training on September 30 to better equip full-time faculty to evaluate online courses effectively and constructively.
Because Willits High School adopted Canvas as their online course platform, we have been able to provide their teachers with support including access to our Canvas site and recorded trainings. Through an MOU we are also going to be partnering their faculty with ours to offer one-on-one assistance as they begin their first semester teaching with Canvas.
The Career Education programs at Mendocino College were fully funded by Strong Workforce Program state legislated funding for the fourth year in a row. The Career Technical Education (CTE) instructors of Ukiah High School met with the Career Education Instructors of Mendocino College on Thursday 9/3/20 to discuss career education pathways for grades 6-14, dual enrollment, K-12/College strong workforce programs, current local/regional labor market indicators, and advisory board developments.
K12 Partnerships Continue
While maintaining dual and concurrent enrollment partnerships has been challenging during the move to online instruction, we have successfully maintained dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities with almost every high school in our district, including three charter schools. Our largest high school—Ukiah High—is engaged in a discussion with our instructional deans to identify college/career pathways for a CCAP agreement. This will enrich the experience of UHS students enrolled in college courses taught through their school. Additionally, the Middle College continues in its third year, adding a new class so that we now have 10th, 11th, and 12th graders enrolled in the program. These high school students are taking some of their core classes online with high school teachers while also enrolling in college classes.
Coastal Field Station Update
Researchers with the UCSC MARINe project were approved for a return visit to our field station property in July. Although COVID-19 mitigation steps would not allow their use of the buildings/facilities, they used our field station property as a way to access the intertidal zone for their abalone count (no disturbance/collections). They previously visited in 2011, and this was an important return trip as part of their long term monitoring project. (pacificrockyintertidal.org, https://marine.ucsc.edu/methods/index.html).
A draft limited-use protocol for the field station has been developed with relevance to COVID-19 mitigation. All use is on hold, however, in line with the college focus on essential functions and limited in-person activities.
As you might already know, the college has an earthquake seismometer installed in the science building on the Ukiah campus. A second instrument was purchased last year to be installed at the field station. A new report published in Science, with an analysis of datasets from over 300 seismic stations in 78 countries including the Mendocino College Raspberry Shake seismometer, was able to demonstrate that ambient seismic noise levels were reduced in many countries and regions around the world due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures. The report used the seismic data to visualize the resulting “wave” of lockdown effects starting in China, then moving to Italy and the rest of the world. This seismic noise reduction represents the total effects of physical / social distancing measures, reduced economic and industrial activity and drops in tourism and travel. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures, Thomas Lecocq et al., Science, 23 July 2020: eabd2438, DOI: 10.1126/science.abd2438
Virtual New Student Welcome
Over 100 students participated in the virtual New Student Welcome held on August 6 and 7. Faculty and staff from multiple departments, including the First Year Institute, EOPS, Financial Aid, Admissions & Records, among others, presented important information to incoming students. Recordings of the Zoom sessions held during the event are now linked to the New Student Welcome page for students to watch. Sessions on Financial Aid (in English & Spanish), General Counseling, FYI and online resources are currently available.
20-21 FYI Cohort
The First Year Institute (FYI) currently has a cohort of 136 students. Each year, the goal is to serve 100 students; we have surpassed our goal and will take some additional students prior to the end of the semester.
Books & Item Distribution
FYI had an on campus, drive up textbooks and material distribution day on August 12. Over 30 students came by to pick up items; students who couldn’t attend are able to pick up materials during regular library hours or at the centers during regular business hours. Over 70 students have received items from the FYI Lending Library which includes class textbooks, calculators, and Chromebooks.
Diplomas and Certificates
Mendocino College entered into a partnership with Parchment in Spring 2020 for the issuance of diplomas and certificates. This partnership allows students graduating in the Spring 2020 (and subsequent semesters) to receive a certified electronic award along with their printed award. The printed award is mailed to the student’s home within 10-12 days of submission, and the electronic award is available immediately after the award information is submitted. Students can access and share the digital award with employers via email and post an image of their award on social media to share their achievement with friends and families. Of the 306 awards issued to date, 197 of the digital awards have been claimed and 52 students have shared their success on their preferred social media platform (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).
College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) Update
In August, 25 CAMP scholars attended the New Student Welcome. 27 CAMP scholars participated in CAMP Summer Bridge classes - CCS 124 and LIB 200. We currently have 36 new CAMP scholars and 8 persisters, for a total of 44 CAMP scholars for the 20-21 cohort. We are still recruiting, connecting with CAMP liaisons from Migrant Education, TRiO, and high school counselors. The outreach includes sharing the message that CAMP is still accepting applications, a two-minute Passport CAMP video, and online fillable CAMP application. We have also promoted CAMP on all of our social media outlets and created a LinkTree link to share with current CAMP scholars to stay up to date. CAMP counselor, Maria, has been keeping busy and has met with all new and persister CAMP scholars to work on education plans, and the CCS 119 is well underway.
The Financial Aid Office staff are busily working on completing student files and awarding students their financial aid while also closing out the 2019-2020 academic year. This year's preliminary numbers show that we disbursed $5,055,114 in Pell Grants for 2019-2020 compared to $4,640,913 in 2018-2019. The Cal Grant program saw a dramatic increase in the amount disbursed to students due to the increased award for those with dependent children. The Cal Grant B award increased from $1,672 to $6,024 and the Cal Grant C award increased from $1,094 to $4,000 for students with dependent children. In 2019-2020 we disbursed $754,241 of Cal Grant awards compared to $454,488 in 2018-2019.
The staff is also getting ready for the 2021-2022 FAFSA and CA Dream Act application which opens on October 1, 2020. We are in communication with our local high schools to offer virtual FAFSA/CA Dream Act workshops for students and parents. We are also strategizing on how to possibly offer in-person workshops to our current and incoming students and parents.
The EOPS program had 38 students attend the New Student Welcome who were accepted into EOPS. We currently have 79 students who are new to the EOPS program for Fall 2020 and 286 continuing students. Compared to last year, we are seeing a decline in students applying for the program and an increase in students who are not completing program requirements. We have 66 students who are eligible for EOPS but haven't completed the online orientation or Mutual Responsibility Contract. We are contacting these students by phone/text to remind them of the next steps for them to start receiving services. We continue to invite students to apply to the EOPS/CARE program.
On August 13, new and continuing, students attended the drive-thru Kick-off event where they picked up their “Tools for School”, a set of school supplies and lending library textbooks.
Final numbers for EOPS show that we served an unduplicated headcount of 589 students in 2019-2020, which is an increase of 53 students compared to 536 in 2018-2019. While CARE served an unduplicated headcount of 30 students in 2019-2020, which is an increase of 8 students compared to 21 in 2018-2019.
Counselors are connecting and serving students via telephone, email, Cranium Café, Zoom, and often deploying multiple platforms concurrently. The remote learning environment has required that counselors and support staff adapt in order to reach students in the platform that is most convenient to them. Additionally, past practices in scheduling and utilizing all our counselors, both full-time and adjuncts, proved to be not applicable in the current environment. Not until the week prior before the start of the semester did we experience the rush from students to schedule counseling appointments. With the cooperation, understanding, flexibility and accommodating spirit of our adjunct counselors, six adjunct counselors were scheduled to assist the week prior and the first week of the semester with only a weeks’ notice. Dean Lopez will continue to monitor peek windows of high need and consult with the adjunct counselors moving forward.
The final financial transactions are currently being posted to close out the 2019/20 fiscal year. Fiscal Director Joe Atherton and the staff in Fiscal Services have been extremely busy finalizing the transactions that occurred prior to June 30, 2020. The final numbers are coming in better than budget in many categories. Director Atherton has been working with the external auditors, who will continue to review the transactions of the college for state and federal compliance. As in prior years, the audit will be presented to the trustees at the December meeting and will contain the final financial statements for the fiscal year which ended June 30, 2020.
The State of California budget for 2020/21 is challenged by a $54 billion deficit. In terms of the impact on community colleges, the state did not cut community college budgets, but imposed $1.5 billion in cash deferrals. Cash payments due to the colleges from February 2021 through June 2021 will not be paid until the following fiscal year. This will result in Mendocino College not receiving $5.2 million in cash payments in 2020/21. Vice President Cichocki and Director Atherton are creating a cash flow projection to determine if the college needs to borrow funds in order to remain solvent on a cash basis. The college has not needed to borrow funds externally in nearly 20 years. During the previous economic downturn, the college was able to borrow from the Mendocino County Treasury. This time around, the cash deferrals are so large, and schools make up a large portion of cash in the Treasury, that it is unlikely the Treasury will have sufficient cash to loan schools. Vice President Cichocki is working with administration at MCOE to determine if schools in Mendocino County [as a whole] will have enough cash to get through the deferrals.
Community Work and Outreach
A huge shout out to our very own Kirk Fuller (Digital Arts and Media Faculty) and Antonio Lopez (Dean of Counseling and Student programs) for working with the city/county, UVA, NCO and Listos to helped produce videos to raise awareness in our Latino community about COVID-19.