League Strategy 2021
“Quality public community colleges for all Californians.”
The League’s recently crafted organizational vision statement appears especially apt in this post-election environment; both for its commitment to all Californians, and its considered use of the modifier public. This new vision will guide and inspire our work for California community colleges and the millions of students we serve.
Similar to districts and colleges, the League’s reconceptualized Strategic Plan maintains fundamental elements of its mission, however important changes reflect deliberate and considered choices emerging from the planning process. Budget volatility and inadequacy, and student remediation and completion emerged as the top concerns in our surveys of CEOs and Trustees. The Weiss Group met with the CEO and Trustee Boards to discuss issues and concerns to inform the Strategic Plan.
League Staff analyzed and deliberated upon the evidence collected from surveys and discussions with League stakeholders to identity the central elements and principles for the new Strategic Plan. Following the retreat and the identification of five primary strategic goals, League Staff broke into five “Goal Groups” to create action plans and indicators of achievement to facilitate implementation and assessment of the work.
While proud of the vision and values inherent in the 2016-2021 League Strategic Plan, our most important task is to work strategically and relentlessly to advance our mission to achieve the vision co-created by all of us engaged in the critical work of California’s Community Colleges. The CEO, Trustee, and League Boards affirmed and approved the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan presented here.
Board Member Spotlight
“I appreciate that, as a president, there’s always an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students, the college, and the community.”
In 2010, Dr. Loretta “Lori” Adrian became the first Filipino-American College President in the US when she began her tenure at Coastline Community College in Southern California and part of the Coast Community College District.
While the daughter of teachers and a graduate of the University of the Philippines, Dr. Adrian had not imagined ascending to a college presidency prior to encouragement from mentors, colleagues, and leaders such as then-Mesa College President Dr. Constance Carroll.
President Adrian’s non-traditional path to the presidency, her background as a female immigrant to the US, as well as her extensive work experience at several institutions of higher education in California – including four community colleges – more than qualify her as a CEO with the capacity to lead as well as readily identify with many of the students attending Coastline.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of the Philippines, President Adrian worked as a researcher in the linguistics department collecting the oral literature of Philippine ethno-linguistic groups. Dr. Adrian also worked briefly for the United Nations, and for seven years as an intercultural trainer for the US Peace Corps in the Philippines where among other duties, she designed and coordinated intensive orientation programs for newly arrived Peace Corps volunteers and retraining programs for those already in the country.
Dr. Adrian experienced the challenges of being an immigrant in the US as she left the Philippines and moved to Tennessee where her career was placed on hold as she became a full-time mother for four years and a single mother soon thereafter.
Relocation to Northern California led to a staff position at the University of the Pacific (UOP) working with international students. After seven years at UOP and earning a Master’s Degree in Communication Theory, Adrian took an entry-level international advisor position at San Joaquin Delta College. Following three years conducting international student outreach, advising, programming, as well as team-teaching Introduction to College courses, in 1992 Dr. Adrian took a position at in student affairs at San Diego Mesa College. She spent 13 years at Mesa serving as student affairs officer, dean of student affairs, interim dean of counseling and matriculation, activing vice president of student services, and part-time instructor.
President Adrian points to Dr. Constance Carroll as being an influential mentor at Mesa College, and she entered a joint doctoral program in education at San Diego State and Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Adrian mentions her work as the grievance and disciplinary officer at Mesa as both challenging and fulfilling, “It gave me the opportunity to work with students when they needed support the most.”
In 2005, Adrian became Vice President of Student services at Skyline College. She refers fondly to the incredible student diversity at Skyline, as well as the focus on student equity. Seeking to move closer to her adult children and new grandson in Southern California, she applied and was selected for the presidency at Coast.
Asked about what she enjoys most about the role of president, she explains, “I like solving problems, overcoming challenges, creating and doing something different or new, and getting things done. I relish connecting with students – understanding their challenges and sharing their successes.”
President Adrian believes that meeting expectations for accountability with the current criteria and funding levels; financial instability combined with unfunded mandates; and overregulation as the most significant challenges facing our state’s community colleges.
Traveling, watching football and tennis, spending time with her two sons and seven year-old grandson, and simply hanging out with friends are just some of the pursuits Lori enjoys when she has time away from her leadership responsibilities. Additionally, President Adrian mentions supporting and mentoring underrepresented and women leaders as something for which she receives great satisfaction as well. “I enjoy being a mentor, speaker, and a resource.”
Reflecting on her non-traditional path to the community college presidency, Dr. Adrian observes, “The presidency has been worth pursuing and, while I would recommend more planning for those interested in the presidency, it’s important to enjoy, excel, and contribute at each step along the way.”
“My interest in serving and supporting community colleges has always been about my belief that community colleges can, do, and must serve and support the community, to provide real opportunity and eliminate inequality.”
Santa Monica College (SMC) Trustee, Dr. Louise Jaffe, believes passionately that California’s community colleges are critical to advancing opportunity for underserved communities and individuals, and that equity is an essential component of our sector’s mission.
During her 10 years as Trustee at SMC, Dr. Jaffe has served in a variety of statewide roles including California Community College Trustee (CCCT) Board President, Chair of the League Board, as well as service on multiple statewide committees. In addition to her work in the Santa Monica College District and region – where she has been SMC Board Chair, earned the PTA’s highest award, and founded the Santa Monica Lifelong Learning Community Project - Trustee Jaffe has actively participated in advocacy in the State Capitol in Sacramento including helping to position the League to play an important role in the successful passage of CCLC-sponsored AB 288 by AssemblyMember Chris Holden. The College and Career Access Pathways Act advances core values and beliefs championed by Trustee Jaffe including: strengthening connections between P-12 and postsecondary education; increasing access and opportunity for underserved students; and more effectively utilizing high school as a stepping stone for success in college.
Indeed, it is difficult to think of a California Community College Trustee who has been more involved and active at the state level as both an advocate and educational expert than Louise Jaffe. Illustrating her commitment to higher education, alignment with p-12, and lifelong learning, Trustee Jaffe earned a doctorate from UCLA in educational leadership in 2012 with her dissertation "Mathematics from High School to Community College: Preparation, Articulation, and College Un-readiness."
Asked how she first became interested in serving and supporting community colleges, Dr. Jaffe explains that she had an epiphany when her children were in elementary school that Santa Monica should become a model lifelong learning community. And when former SMC Trustee Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison suggested that she would make a fine trustee, Jaffe embraced the opportunity and challenge. With her youngest child about to graduate from high school, the role of SMC Trustee appeared a logical extension of the PTA work she had been doing to promote the importance of learning from cradle to grave and excellence in public education as quality of life issues for the entire community.
Trustee Jaffe marvels at SMC’s contributions to the local community, as well as the dedication and intelligence of the student-focused educators our sector has throughout the state. She observes, “We have a lot of great people working diligently to ensure our system works well for our students.”
Asked about the most important issues facing California’s Community Colleges, Jaffe explains, “Prior to the November 2016 election, I would have said student success and equity and that includes significantly increasing California’s capacity to grant baccalaureate degrees. But now we also have to be really concerned and diligent about ensuring access and safety for our undocumented students and all of our students.”
When she’s not busy serving the Santa Monica District, working on statewide committees dealing with institutional effectiveness, assessment, and academic quality, you may find Louise spending time with her husband and daughters, going for walks, or taking in a UCLA Basketball game. Still, as those familiar with her work ethic know, you are more likely to find her engaging with educational policy and advocating on behalf of students, than watching her Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.
Dougherty, K.J., Jones, Sosanya M., Lahr, Hana, Natow, Rebecca S., Pheatt, Lara, Reddy, (2016).
Baltimore, MD., Johns Hopkins University Press.
To many, the primary logical premises supporting performance funding for public postsecondary education appear straightforward: the global economy requires a more highly skilled and educated workforce; public colleges and universities in the US "produce" an insufficient number of graduates, and too many students entering college with the goal of graduating fail to complete. State funding formulas for public postsecondary institutions have historically been based on enrollment, thus incentivizing colleges and universities to focus on recruitment and maximizing enrollment. Since financial incentives strongly influence institutional behavior, altering those incentives to reward persistence and degree completion will result in organizational programs, practices, and behaviors focused on increasing the number and percentage of college graduates and overall degree attainment.
With more than 30 states employing some form of performance funding, what does the evidence demonstrate about the efficacy of performance funding and the aforementioned logical foundation that supports it? Moreover, what policy instruments have states employed to influence institutional behavior? And what deliberative processes have colleges and universities used to determine their response to performance funding?
In their thoroughly researched and important book, Kevin J. Dougherty, Sosanya M. Jones, Hana Lahr, Rebecca S. Natow, Lara Pheatt, and Vikash Reddy of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, present findings from their three-year study of the implementation and impacts of performance funding among 18 public postsecondary institutions in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee.
The book describes the policy instruments employed by these states to implement performance funding; the organizational processes institutions used to determine their responses to this approach, and analyzes the influence of performance funding on institutional policies and programs. The authors review the impacts of performance funding on student outcomes, obstacles encountered by institutions, as well as performance funding’s unintended effects. The authors include an appendices describing the nature and history of performance funding in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee, and the researcher's interview protocol for policymakers and academic subjects participating in the study.
Dougherty et al. conclude that while performance funding influences colleges to change policies and practices – most notably approaches to developmental education and/or advising and counseling - performance funding has unintended consequences, inappropriate performance measures, and insufficient organizational structure.
The authors’ general definition of performance funding includes policy that directly connects state funding to an institution's performance on indicators such as student persistence, credit accrual, and completion (Dougherty et al., 2016. p. 1). This contrasts with funding based on enrollment or formulas without reference to institutional performance.
The researchers identify the existence of some type of performance funding in 30 states in the US, with significant variation in the percentage of state funding at play. This includes Illinois which has less than one percent of state funding subject to performance criteria, compared to 80 and 90 percent performance funding formulas in Ohio and Tennessee respectively (Dougherty et al., 2016, p. 35).
Additionally, two forms of performance funding are identified: What the authors call “Performance funding 1.0” and “Performance funding 2.0.” The first variety features programs where performance funding is in the form of a bonus, above and beyond the base state funding an institution receives. In contrast, 2.0 formulas fold performance funding into the base funding received by colleges and universities. Furthermore, in Performance Funding 2.0, the proportion of state funds tied directly to performance is much higher (Dougherty et al., 2016, p. 4). Finally, the authors conclude by summarizing their findings and including recommendations for policymakers and institutional actors
To their credit, Dougherty et al. go beyond a mere cost-benefit approach and include research and theory on performance management of government services, policy design, organizational learning, policy implementation, and principal-agent relations (Dougherty, et al., 2016 p. 19). This approach makes for both a richer methodological analysis of performance, and a more informative and engaging experience for the reader.
Specifically, the analysis of performance funding is organized around the following research questions:
- "What policy instruments have our three states used as a part of their performance funding programs in order to influence the behavior of institutions? What have been the immediate impacts of those instruments?
- What deliberative processes have colleges and universities used to determine how to respond to performance funding?
- What have been the intermediate institutional responses of the colleges and universities to performance funding? That is, how have colleges altered their academic and student services policies, programs, and practices in ways that relate to performance funding goals?
- What have been the impacts of performance funding programs on student outcomes?
- Have institutions encountered obstacles in trying to effectively respond to the demands of performance funding? What forms have those obstacles taken?
- Have there been outcomes of performance funding unintended by policymakers? What forms have they taken?" (Dougherty, et al., 2016, p. 34).
The authors justify their choice of Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee by pointing to the diversity of their respective histories of performance funding and in their political and socioeconomic structures. With the goal of accounting for the wide range of funding regimes nationally, the study encompasses nine community colleges and nine universities in these three states. In addition to written documentation and academic literature, Dougherty et al. interviewed 261 state officials, political actors, and institutional administrators and faculty at the 18 colleges and universities in the study (Dougherty, et al., 2016, p. 38).
While policymakers tended to voice their belief that the financial incentives would influence institutional behavior leading to an enhanced focus on completion, the authors found limited evidence of financial support for building institutional capacity and organizational learning (Dougherty, et al., 2016, p. 72). The researchers discovered no evidence of state financial support for enhancing college's information technology and/or institutional research capacities, although there was evidence of efforts to highlight promising practices (IBID). The result was that some interviewees at colleges and universities viewed performance funding as an "unfunded mandate" (Dougherty et al., 2016, p. 75). Dougherty and co-authors identify a disconnect among state policymakers and institutional actors as it pertains to state capacity- building efforts, and they make the case for state resources for institutions to analyze how and why they may not be meeting their completion goals.
The examination of institutional policy, program, and practitioner responses to performance funding found that colleges and universities did alter the aforementioned as a direct result of the state funding policy shift. These findings are consistent with the research on performance funding that has found increased institutional allocations toward instruction and student services (Dougherty et al., 2016, p. 129). Still, since the higher education landscape in many states is infused with multiple and varied state-level initiatives affecting public institutions, the authors conclude that disentangling exactly which initiatives are driving institutional behavior remains difficult.
Arguably, the single most important question surrounding performance funding is what impact it has on student outcomes. In chapter 6, the authors discuss the complexity of determining direct cause and effect on student outcomes yet point to three recent multivariate studies of performance funding 2.0 that failed to find significant effects (Dougherty et al., 2016, p. 146).
Perhaps one of the most relatable chapters for community college educators and stakeholders is entitled Obstacles to Effective Response. Administrators and faculty at the community colleges participating in the study question performance funding as it pertains to their mission as open access institutions. Furthermore, community college personnel perceived that state metrics held them to the same standards as baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, despite the important distinctions among them - including the fact that a significant number of individuals attend community colleges with no intention of earning agree (a.k.a. known as skill-builders in California). Moreover, many community college respondents described a lack of institutional capacity - especially for institutional research and information technology - due to inadequate base funding.
Performance Funding For Higher Education represents the most comprehensive analysis and discussion of the efficacy of this increasingly popular approach to funding public postsecondary educational institutions. California Community College stakeholders seeking a well-researched, clearly written analysis and discussion of performance funding will not be disappointed by this important and timely work from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.