MiraCosta Superintendent/President Francisco Rodriguez reflects on 5 years of service.

When I arrived at MiraCosta College and delivered my inauguration speech in March 2009, I spoke about the transformative power of education and my goal to build upon the great traditions that have been set at this college by so many people before me. I also shared my zeal for education and my commitment to a community college system dedicated to open access and student success, academic excellence and affordability. As I celebrate my fifth anniversary on March 1 and begin my sixth year at this great institution, I want to take a few moments to reflect on some of our collective work.


Student Success: The focus on students and their success is job one at the college and all of our faculty and staff have supported activities that improve our students' overall experience. Innovative programs and services, combined with expert teaching and strong student support services have resulted in the college awarding more degrees and certificates than ever before. In the last five years, our graduation numbers have more than doubled, and in 2013, we awarded a record number of degrees and certificates--2,455, plus an additional 52 high school diplomas.


College Enrollments and Programs: Student enrollment has grown by nearly 25 percent since 2009. The college has met this student demand by using our resources to embark on constructing new facilities, building programs and substantially beefing up the number of courses available on Fridays and Saturdays.


The number of military veterans and active-duty personnel has nearly doubled to 1,900, prompting us to create a veterans lounge, hire a veterans academic counselor and bolster veteran-specific services. The college also has earned the distinction as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), a federal designation that now positions the college for funding to bolster student success. The Honors Scholar Program has flourished in the last several years, affording students an enriched educational experience through intensive instruction, challenging coursework and close interaction with Honors faculty. 


New Academic and Training Programs: A new, high-tech science building on the Oceanside Campus is helping us meet student demand for science courses. At the San Elijo Campus in Cardiff, students are benefiting from a growing academic program. With more students seeking to take advantage of the transfer-focused curriculum, extracurricular activities on campus have expanded and we now have a robust campus-life program.Construction of a new science building, which began last year, will be complete in time to open next fall.


With the launch of a revised and improved Gerontology Studies Program, MiraCosta College is at the forefront of preparing students to work with and care for our aging population – the fastest growing population in the world. Faculty have also developed new programs in the areas of biomass technology and social mediaarming students and those already in the workforce with the vital skills needed in an increasingly technologically savvy world.


Online Education: Students are utilizing online education more than ever before. In 2009, we offered 208 online and hybrid courses. In 2013, that number had increased to 310. The breadth of online classes has grown as well, and all three MiraCosta College campuses now support a new online tutoring service that allows students live access to tutors throughout the week, including nights and weekends.


MiraCosta College also continues to meet its mission to address the needs of the local business community. The Community Services and Business Development Program, for example, has crafted a new Machinist Technology Program for individuals seeking fast-paced, high-level training for employable job skills. In spring 2013, the college, with private financial support from numerous local corporations and from the San Diego Workforce Partnership, opened its doors to the new program, which is currently housed at the Landes Center in Oceanside. The US Department of Labor also just awarded MiraCosta College a $2.75 million federal grant to start a Technology Career Institute (TCI) aimed at filling a growing demand for qualified machinists and industrial technicians in North County.


Community Engagement: Our commitment extends beyond the students at MiraCosta College to those who are still in elementary, middle and high schools. Our partnerships with Encurentros Leadership of North County and the GEAR UP Program with the Oceanside Unified School District are aimed at preparing students for college and careers and at developing a college-going culture for all students and families.


This spring semester, we began offering college classes at Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad and are now in discussions with the San Dieguito Union High School District about strengthening our partnership in providing adult education. And just recently, the MiraCosta Community College District trustees passed a resolution that waives enrollment fees for high school students concurrently enrolled in college courses.


Philanthropy: Over the past five years, MiraCosta College Foundation donors have joined together to support the college and its students at record levels, generating more than $7.6 million in total revenues. The college foundation’s total assets have grown from $4.6 million to $8.8 million and endowments have also nearly doubled. These gifts have enabled the college foundation to distribute more than $1.3 million in scholarships and direct financial aid while also providing nearly $2 million in support of college programs and priorities over the same five-year period. Contributing significantly to this success is the exceptional generosity of local, regional and national private foundations that have supported the college with more than $1.5 million in grants. In addition, the college has secured more than $15 million in public grants. The continued generosity of our donors and our focus on building our endowments will ensure that generations of students will continue to be encouraged to reach for college with the support of scholarships, direct aid and enhanced academic and student support programs.


Fiscal and Organizational Management: Also in the last five years, the college has maintained a strong financial footing. Our firm commitment to fiscal prudence has guided the district through the country's most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. We have also revamped our governance structure, completed our accreditation processes with strong results and, year over year, we continue our string of successful financial audits.


Many of you know my story as a first-generation college graduate from a working-class family and my upbringing by immigrant parents, who overcame a myriad of obstacles and hardships that are not unlike those faced by so many of our students today. Through their selfless example, my parents demonstrated that through hard work anything was possible.


Looking back, we have much to be proud of. Clearly, MiraCosta College continues to be an exceptional institution with an unfaltering commitment to educate students and serve the community. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your president for these past five years, and I appreciate your support for me, this college and its students.



Francisco C. Rodriguez, Ph.D.



Interested in learning more about MiraCosta College history? Check out our 80th anniversary video, request a magazine be mailed to your home, or read the full college history online.

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Categories: Community College | Oceanside History

February 2014 07:33


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