Guest column: Reflecting on 1 year as president at Lake Tahoe Community College (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Guest column: Reflecting on 1 year as president at Lake Tahoe Community College (opinion)

Jeff DeFranco
Guest Column

It's a little hard for me to believe, but it has been one year since I became superintendent/president of Lake Tahoe Community College.

An incredible amount of crucial work and planning was accomplished in the past 12 months, and I wanted to reach out to the community to let you know what we achieved and to thank you for your feedback about the college. Your input helped us to focus our efforts in ways that will benefit both LTCC and South Lake Tahoe, and it has already resulted in positive news to share.

First and foremost, I wanted to let you know that just this past week, LTCC was notified that its accreditation status was reaffirmed at the highest level by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The commission reaffirmed LTCC's accreditation status for seven years, which puts the college in excellent standing until its next comprehensive review in fall 2024.

What this news means is that LTCC substantially met or exceeded all of the Eligibility Requirements, Accreditation Standards and Commission policies of the ACCJC. An independent group reinforced what I know to be true: that LTCC provides a quality, comprehensive education and offers invaluable support services to our students and community.

This outstanding accreditation result is not a given for all schools in our system — many of our peers are facing requirements for follow-up reports or additional visits.

Feedback from the community and college staff and faculty also led to our expanding our library and learning services on campus, bringing many existing and new student support services together in one logical place. We've also extended the library's hours by providing service on Sunday afternoons. That gives our students more access to learning materials on their schedules but also allows community members more opportunity to make use of our library and related services.

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LTCC also brought in two new faculty members in the last year: Library and Learning Services Director Melanie Chu, and English faculty member Julie Ewing. Both of them are adding to what already constitutes a world-class faculty that provides quality instruction and small class sizes to our students.

LTCC is currently recruiting for a faculty member in history/political science. We are also recruiting for wilderness education, which will bring a full-time faculty presence to an already robust academic program that has the potential to draw even more students from both inside and outside of the Tahoe Basin.

Around LTCC's campus, we've seen a lot of positive changes take shape thanks to Measure F bond monies and the support of our community. In particular, the "main building commons" projects have resulted in a truly vibrant hub that is consistently used by students and staff.

We've also made significant progress on the Lisa Maloff University Center, which is on track to open in fall 2018 to provide South Shore residents access to four-year degrees. Our annual bond report highlighting all of the construction and improvements Measure F is bringing to campus will be mailed out to the entire community this spring.

In the past year, LTCC has forged new local industry partnerships thanks to the efforts of the ADVANCE network and LTCC's Workforce Development programs. These partnerships are helping more adult learners in our community find their way to LTCC, where they are engaging in hands-on learning experiences that are improving their earnings and lives, and bettering the skillsets of our local workforce.

LTCC received a $500,000 grant to expand apprenticeship offerings to ensure the Lake Tahoe Basin has a skilled workforce. Furthermore, ADVANCE was a big part of bringing free local transportation to LTCC students: starting last fall, LTCC students could start using their college IDs to get free bus rides within the basin.

Most importantly, LTCC supported 186 students in completing associate degrees in 2017, forever changing their lives for the better. For the first time ever, this group included graduations for five of our extraordinary Incarcerated Student Program participants.

It's been a tremendous year at the college, and the groundwork laid promises all of us a brighter future. This just reflects a snapshot of a few of the highlights of the great work that is taking place at your college, to find out more please visit us online at http://www.ltcc.edu. Thank you to all who contributed to our shared successes, and if you have an idea for our college you'd like to share, please contact me.

Jeff DeFranco is the superintendent/president at Lake Tahoe Community College. Visit his Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/jeffdefranco and email him at president@ltcc.edu.