By Timothy Guy
By Timothy Guy
The state of the college today is all about change and moving forward.
Riverside City College President Daniel Castro gave a state of the college address April 20 in the Landis Performing Arts Center in front of a large group of students, staff, faculty and administrators… the RCC family if you will.
He also took the time to answer questions from audience members regarding various issues.
The two main points of the address were growth of the college and the upcoming college accreditation site visit in less than 15 months.
Accreditation? What is that you might ask?
Accreditation is an independent analysis of the educational programs at an institute to make sure that the education provided is of a certain quality.
“They are looking at what kind of services we are providing for our students, what kind of governance do we have, how are we doing with our finances,” Castro said in his speech. “They want to know, are we a healthy institution?”
Being accredited means that an institution has met certain criteria and standards and establishes quality.
Some faculty and staff have been working on preparing for the accreditation for months. Castro stated in his speech that everyone should be involved in this accreditation process.
“If you live, work or study here you are part of the RCC family and this accreditation is not about the president, not about the vocational programs or the academic programs… it’s about us as a family,” he said.
This especially means the students of RCC.
“One of things is that we hope the students will be involved in every standard that we have and every committee and we’ve made that point… we want student involvement,” Castro said.
The accreditation process also gives the college a chance to look at the problems and issues going on currently.
“This visit is going to be a positive thing. It will be our chance to check the health of our college,” Castro said. “How are we doing? Are we still on track with reaching our goals, our vision?”
When asked by an audience member what problems Castro would like to see worked on, he mentioned basic skills.
“There are things we need to address; one of them that we on the academic side right now are trying to address is that the fact that we have a very big problem that we need to address that is remedial skills,” he said. “We know what the students are assessing coming in here and we are not addressing it as a whole. There are pieces here and there. So we have to look at that.”
Castro also replied that the college needs to look ahead for future issues, like college growth, and plan accordingly.
“When we look at what this community is going to be like in 30 years from now, where will be put all the students?” he said. “We have got to start planning, not for this year, next year or even a five-year plan… we need a 30-year plan.”
While many consider RCC to be a great college, it still needs to move toward the future.
“When I was being courted for this position, everyone said ‘Riverside City College is a plum, it’s a great campus.’ and I was very excited about coming here. And once I got here I realized it was true,” Castro said. “But I also realize that greatness is not stagnant and we’ve gotta move forward. There are some schools will have a long time before they can catch up to where we’re at. But that’s no reason for us not to move forward.”
A student in the audience asked if there was a chance that the college could centralize Student Services in one place to better help the students, instead of having essential services in different buildings around campus.
“It would be great to have a one stop, but until we get a Facilities master plan I don’t know how that’s going work,” Castro said. “We have been talking about the fact that Admissions and Records is in the very center of our campus. People just need to come get something and leave. We need to figure out, what’s going to make this campus operate smoother and that we will be able to service our clients better.”
The college’s personality, according to Castro, is also important to the future and moving forward. As someone who is new to this college Castro had an impression of RCC’s personality when he first arrived.
“I’ll tell you what the personality is that I got when I first got here… kind of warm, but snooty campus,” he said.
An audience member replied with “Ouch!” after that comment.
“I say that not because I am trying to point the finger at anybody, I’m saying we need to be warm,” Castro said.
Maybe the idea of music playing would warm RCC up a little, Castro said.
“I think we should have someone playing the piano out in front of Admissions and Records,” Castro said. “They do it at Nordstrom’s. What are they trying to do? They’re trying to say we care about you.”
According to Castro, everyone at this college should take a cue from Disneyland and how great its employees treat the people that attend the amusement park.
“We’re better than Disneyland; it’s about how we care about who we are. Treat people the way you want to be treated,” he said. “Every one of you is special and I want everyone to treat every student, coworker, future student, alumni, community member… I want you to treat them like Walt Disney is looking down ‘You better be doing it the right way!'”
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is still a lot of work ahead for this college, he said.
“We can’t stop and say we’ll we are better than that school so we’re OK, until we are the best then that’s when we can stop,” Castro said. “That’s like asking our students, how much education is enough? Until you learn everything in the world I guess, but I don’t think that’s ever possible.”