Santa Rosa Junior College faces a series of long term challenges, but the improving economic climate and a growing base of private funding support has poised the institution for continued growth, President Frank Chong told members of the SRJC Foundation during his annual address on the state of the college.
“I still feel the state of the college is in a good place,” Chong said in his second address since becoming president last year. “Why? Because for 94 years we've been there for the community and every time we go to the community for support, you are there for us.”
State funding is slowly improving, thanks in part to Proposition 30, a 2012 ballot measure that is pumping more than $200 million per year into the community college system, he said. That will allow the university to restore 500 class sections next year, about a quarter of all the classes cut during the steep state budget cuts over the past five years.
The Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation has raised more than $20.6 million in the past five years to support SRJC students and the College. SRJC also received a one-time $6 million donation from an individual donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
That contribution alone has allowed the college to develop a program to assist college students who face personal or family emergencies that threaten their ability to finish school. It has also funded a “teaching fellowship” program, in which current faculty groom students interested in eventually returning as SRJC faculty members themselves.
That program addresses perhaps the most serious challenge facing the school, he said: about half of the faculty and staff, and about 90 percent of administrators, are eligible to retire. That points to a pressing need to recruit, develop, and retain younger staff members to replace the retirees.
“What I see is the renewal of our human resources, our human capital,” he said.