As the new President of Skyline College, you can imagine the excitement I feel getting to know you - the students, faculty, classified professionals, administrators, and community. I feel like a freshman student - everything is new and unfamiliar, and yet there is a marvelous anticipation of all that is yet to be discovered! At the same time, I am deeply humbled and privileged to have been chosen as your new President, and I step into this role with profound gratitude for the work of my predecessors.
I want to honor and recognize the incredible work of Dr. Jannett Jackson. She accomplished so much in this past year to address some critical objectives: greater transparency, examination of our participatory governance process, investment in professional development, a commitment to our comprehensive redesign, and the successful completion of the accreditation process.
Let me assure you, my support of these and other active initiatives will continue, and I want to thank those of you who have participated and contributed in furthering these goals during this past year.
I have spent a very busy month of July visiting with my executive team, meeting classified leadership and faculty leadership, getting to know Chancellor Claire and his cabinet, meeting the Board of Trustees, and relocating from Santa Barbara to the Bay Area! This is a remarkable college community, rich with opportunity and talent, which means you made the absolute right decision to join the Skyline College family – whether you are a student or employee. Every person I have met at Skyline College is incredibly knowledgeable with prodigious expertise, dedicated, has a strong work ethic and a passion to focus on students, to help, to serve, and elevate student success. What an amazing college!
I bring to Skyline College a vision to ignite a spirit of authentic collaboration. While we center everything we do around a “students first” philosophy, I intend to unite us in building a much sturdier foundation of trust and lasting relationships, so that we can work better together, and free ourselves to truly empower and transform students, and allow us to focus more keenly on our key initiatives to bring about student success.
I share Skyline College’s core values and goals, and this year, bring a focus on listening from the heart, caring for others, and an emphasis on connecting with each other given the challenges we face today.
This year, we embark on a new chapter, as we come off the heels of our 50th Anniversary, and enter our second half century with the enormous and unprecedented challenge of a pandemic. We will be shaped, in part, by this health crisis, and learn lessons we never imagined. This “new normal” of remote interaction wears thin at times, I know. We need to press on regardless and lift each other up when we feel discouraged. The occasional live, yet virtual, interaction is important to feel and stay connected. We would be lost without virtual meetings, so hang in there!
We will continue to address the deep injustices facing our communities of color, and have made staunch commitments and taken firm action to dismantle racism in our college structures and practices, to ensure that our black students and colleagues can be safe at Skyline College, and pursue their college and career dreams. Skyline College uniquely sets the example in our District, in the State, and across the nation, with its innovative and disruptive approaches to inculcate anti-racist practices in everything we do. I am so proud of this resilient determination and join you in this effort with humility. I commit to you, as a strong ally, to use my position of power and privilege to support anti-racist actions and changes across our structures and classrooms, as we continue the work to reach our most minoritized students, and lift barriers to their success.
I am looking forward to the year before us, and have observed a few key areas in need of focus this year:
- We will be working to build trust and caring relationships across the college. I have spoken to so many who feel trust has been lost, and yet everyone is fully on board to work on this and support this effort;
- We will continue the work already started to create a stronger commitment to transparency and shared decision-making. I think of participatory governance as a way to hear and consider all voices before major college decisions are made. We don’t have to agree necessarily, but we all want to be heard and feel our point of view has been genuinely considered. We will infuse participatory governance into our decision-making practices across the college.
- Finally, we will continue to dismantle institutional practices that interrupt our anti-racism efforts. We will continue to examine our hiring practices, our curriculum, our pedagogies, our meeting practices, and seek to change how we do business and teach in the classroom, to ensure we stay true to our commitment to be an anti-racist institution. We will also continue our practice of offering caring spaces to our communities of color who continue to be harmed by current events. We will integrate allyship training to develop a daily practice of de-centering the privileged voice and amplify the voices of the oppressed.
Because this pandemic is so persistent, look for a series of virtual meet and greet opportunities with me throughout the fall semester. I want us to get to know each other, even if through a screen.
I hope you all have a successful semester, despite these trying times. And, in the spirit of authentic collaboration, I am here to support you, serve you, and work with you throughout the year.
Dr. Melissa Moreno
President, Skyline College