State of College Address Breaks the Bad News

Angel Silva, El Vaquero News Editor

Upcoming hardships and how to deal with them were the subject of the State of the College address and Business Lecture Series, where campus president Dawn Lindsay and Board of Trustees president Armine Hacopian addressed the upcoming shortfalls due to recent statewide budget cuts to a full crowd in the Auditorium on April 26.

“We are not going to be doing as well in the next few years, because of finances, because of the budget,” said Hacopian.

Hacopian urged the audience to support the California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative which, if passed, would increase state revenues by raising taxes and would further fund community colleges across the state.

“It costs us roughly $4,500 to run one class, so you can imagine the impact of budget cuts,” said Hacopian. “We may be looking at as much as $10 million if things really go as they appear to be.”

Lindsay then spoke about the college’s goals for the previous and current academic year and followed up with an overview of last year’s community forum, where educational goals and concerns were addressed.

According to Lindsay, GCC’s educational goals for the 2011-12 year revolved around developing skills in students that would make them competitive in the current job market.

“You want students who can speak, you want students who can communicate, you want students who have some basic skills, you want students who know how to work in a collaborative setting, you want professionalism and you want accountability,” said Lindsay.

One of the main issues that arose was that of communication in an increasingly digital world.

“Between texting and [other technology], our students live in a very isolated world,” said Lindsay. “One of the things that business leaders told me in this community is how we have to work on teaching people how to just do social exchange and communication and conversation that requires interaction between two people.”

Also addressed was the community collaboratives that the college participated in, such as the partnerships with Glendale Unified School District to expand the Middle College program on campus.

The Middle College is a high school program that  is tailored to Glendale Unified sophomores, juniors and seniors who are capable of college-level work, but are underperforming at a high school level.

Although a program already exists to assist students at Glendale high schools, the partnership would create a separate high school on campus, allowing college courses to be taught alongside high school courses.

“We obviously don’t have the ability to expand on our campus; we don’t have the money to expand on our campus,” said Lindsay.

“Glendale Unified…is looking at utilizing their dollars to renovate [special needs school] College View across the street and allowing us to put our Middle College in there to help students continue succeeding and transferring back and forth between the colleges.”

Echoing Hacopian’s earlier words, Lindsay mentioned that despite the current successes the campus was still in a financial crisis, and required the assistance of the California Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative.

“This tax initiative is critical to this district,” said Lindsay. “It could mean the difference between $3.5 million dollars to this college for the next academic year.

Achieving success in difficult times would require continued funding of the college and an emphasis on lowering the costs of receiving an education, and making these concerns known to the state to achieve these goals, said Lindsay.

“I [and] many other people have been actively involved in lobbying and advocacy, not only at the state level but at the federal level,” said Lindsay. “We’ve got faculty and staff involved in all kinds of advocacy because there’s tremendous scrutiny of the community college system. Fewer dollars means better utilization of resources, and some people are criticizing the community colleges because quite frankly I don’t think they understand what we do.”

Also present was Barney’s Beanery CEO David Houston, who discussed how to succeed in the world of entrepreneurial business in difficult economic times and his experiences as a fledgling businessman.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Houston. “I used to have all kinds of doubts.”

“I had no role models when I was a kid,” said Houston. “To me, business people were bold and daring and brilliant, and I knew I was none of those things. But still, I felt the drive, the calling to go into business for myself.”

Houston’s first line of work was as a mobile disk jockey from which he would open a billiards bar called Cues and eventually become the CEO of Barney’s Beanery in 1999.

Learning skills on the job is a large requirement for being successful in any endeavor, said Houston.

“I remember very distinctly having this vision that [the pool] business, much like my DJ business, would require a number of skills that weren’t necessarily directly related to the restaurant business,” said Houston.

Other tips included answering opportunities that arise, showing up on time, being prepared for unforeseen issues, and be flexible and open to change.

“I think there’s no substitute for enthusiasm and naivete in business,” said Houston.

Entrepreneurs help shape the way humans live and adapt, said Houston.

“The world gets better, I think, because of business people taking a risk and providing a product or service that improves our lives,” said Houston. “Because of private industries, things get better and better.”

Part-time student Gloria Sanchez said Houston’s words and experiences were familiar as a businesswoman in the real estate market.

“I did real estate when I was younger,” said Sanchez. “ I just went into it but I didn’t know about what to do with it.”

Sanchez went back to school to learn new skills that would make her competitive in today’s market.

“I have to get more skills,” said Sanchez. “ I need to practice my basic skills, business skills  – those are things that you need for life.”

This is the third State of the College address since its inception in 2009, when Hacopian approached Brett Miketta, who runs the Business Lecture series, about combining the lectures with the SotC address.

“The dream behind having a State of the College Address was actually Dr. Hacopian’s,” said Lindsay. “She was adamant when I took the position, even as the interim, that this was going to happen.”

“This was her vision long before it became my assignment,” said Lindsay.

Video footage of the event can be found at