Lake Tahoe Community College State of the College address focuses on gratitude

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Lake Tahoe Community College President Jeff DeFranco gave an in depth overview of what he described as breaking out of “the chrysalis phase” and into the “transformative phase” within short order during the 2023 State of the College address on Thursday, Sept. 15.

With the help of a slide show, a movie clip or two and lots of photos, DeFranco displayed gratitude for the many projects underway, the changes that have come, the growth the school has experienced and the hard work that took to get the school where it is today.

“We are not a college of the 80s and 90s anymore,” said DeFranco.

The school now offers social services in addition to education. LTCC has also taken on community projects, taking care of the students and the planet simultaneously. 

“It didn’t all magically happen overnight,” DeFranco said “and I have no doubt we’ll finish.”

“Finish”, only in a sense of completing projects already underway, as the President said, they’ll always be “leveling up”, making sure to always take the time to look back and celebrate. 

“The yin and the yang, the good and the bad, dealing with the challenging moments to get to the good,” said DeFranco.

He highlighted LTCC’s “diverse students who overcome hurdles, the leadership of trustees, and support of employees,” noting that gratitude is not always for the rainbows and butterflies but the rain as well.

DeFranco brought tears to the eyes of audience members in the Duke Theatre Thursday morning when he highlighted two individuals who have been instrumental in the success of LTCC.

LTCC President Jeff DeFranco expresses solemn gratitude, and mourned the loss, for those who made an impact that will never be forgotten.
Ashleigh Goodwin / Tahoe Daily Tribune

The first person he recognized was Board of Trustees member Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Wenck, who served LTCC for 42 years.

DeFranco said “we wouldn’t be here without you, Fritz”

The second was Wilderness Education and Outdoor Leadership director and faculty lead Dr. Clinton Culp.

“Dr. Culp forever changed our wilderness program and put us on the map,” DeFranco said “He’s still with me every time I step into the backcountry”.

Wiping tears from his own eyes, DeFranco announced another individual whose life had a huge impact on the trajectory of the college, its students and the president himself, his father.

DeFranco shared that he had only just decided to include the touching memorial the night before while he reviewed the campus’s successes. 

“I would not be on this stage without him, his support, unwavering,” DeFranco then gracefully moved into the “meat” of the presentation, the growth of the school campus and student body. 

LTCC saw a 24% increase in enrollment this fall compared to Fall 2022. There was also an increase in state budget dollars received by LTCC, now 116% greater than a decade ago, from $13 to $28 million. 

According to the progress update, the total budget, including non-state funding, is 312% higher. In that 10-year period, the average salary per employee almost doubled. 

Perhaps the largest growth described was thanks to the diligent work done to obtain grant funding which totaled $7 million in 2023, up from $1 million 2019. 

Grant monies awarded:

  • Juvenile Justice Expansion Grant will deliver $1.5 million over 5 years, allowing LTCC to educate 70 students housed in the juvenile justice system with the hopes that they will attend LTCC or another CA community college upon their release.
  • Developing Hispanic Serving Institute Grant will bring in $3 million over 5 years, allowing LTCC to expand student success throughout our various Meta Majors, programs, and degrees outside of STEM, focusing on low-income and Latina/o/x students.

The college is focusing on meeting students basic needs by using Measure F and State Funding to open part-time and full-time offices and co-op work spaces. 

Student housing facility location, on the south side of LTCC’s campus near the Student Center/Dining Hall and Library.

In alignment with bringing LTCC into the 21st century, now, the largest classrooms on campus can serve as one technology classroom or three smaller ones. Laboratories for science and art, equipment storage facilities, and the brand-new Main Building entrance and courtyard will soon be complete. 

This past summer, LTCC broke ground for an on-campus residential living facility which will meet the basic need for 100 students by providing affordable housing for income-qualifying, full-time students. The $40 million, 32,000 sq. ft. project is set to be completed in July 2025. 

A commercial-grade kitchen and a large, open space for sit-down dining service near college’s Student Center will be in close proximity to the living units and shared community spaces.

Starting March 2024 through September 2025 the college will be celebrating its 50th year. According to Diane Lewis LTCC Director of Marketing & Communications, “multiple events for college employees, key partners, and the South Shore community are being planned”.  

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