Andrew Walzer is running for Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. The following answers were submitted in response to questions from the Daily Press.

Name: Andrew Walzer Ph.D.

Age: 54

Occupation: Community College Professor

Neighborhood of residence: Mid City

Own/Rent: Owner

Marital status: Divorced

Kids: 4 kids

Political affiliation: Democrat

Schooling: College and Graduate School

Highest degree attained: Doctorate

Hobbies: Yoga, taking care of my kids

Reading list: Plato “The Apology, ” ThucydidesThe Peloponnesian Wars, SophoclesOedipus the King

Last concert attended:Nutcracker

How do you get to and from work? Car

What is your connection to SMC?

I have been a Trustee for 8 years. I am also a former part time instructor at SMC, former co-chair of the part time faculty committee, and former member of the Faculty Association political action committee.

Describe the role of the SMC Board in less than 50 words.

Ultimately, the Trustees are responsible to the students. The Trustees are also fiscally responsible for the college. To this end, we review and approve the annual budget, making sure that the college balances its’ budget and that it has adequate reserves to protect itself from the inevitable swings in state revenue. In addition, each year, the Trustees establish the goals and priorities for the college, and throughout the year we make sure that the various college plans and programs are in line with these goals. The Trustees are also responsible for hiring, and if necessary, firing the president, and to that end we perform an annual review of the president, measuring his performance in relation to the Trustee goals and priorities for the year. We also make sure the employee contracts are settled in a timely and fair fashion. I work with my fellow trustees in a collaborative and respectful way on these activities. I avoid micro managing, meaning that I stay away from the actual implementation of various policies.

Do you think there is a corporatization of education at SMC?

The word is pretty vague. SMC is not even remotely subject to corporate control or privatization. We are subject to the guidelines of the accrediting commission which has rigorous requirements for shared governance at SMC, which requires that the faculty, students, administration, and classified decide the main policies of the college. This term “Corporatization” may be a vague reference to the so called two-tier system that the College was exploring several years ago, but the college ultimately rejected that option, partially because there is no longer the demand for community college seats that there was during the recession.

Does SMC need additional physical facilities? If so, where should they be built?

Yes, the college does need some additional facilities but these need to be well planned in order to minimize traffic and congestion. For example, on the main campus we are only replacing older outdated and unsafe facilities. We are doing some small expansion on some of the satellite campuses to augment the programs there. For example, we are building a small recital hall on the Madison campus, so that the music students have a place to do practice rehearsals. And we are augmenting the Arts and Entertainment academy on Stewart Street so that we can expand the career technical programs.

Is the balance of local/non-local students correct on campus?

Yes. We do a lot of recruiting of local students and residents in Santa Monica. In fact, Santa Monica College has the highest participation rate in the state, meaning that more residents attend Santa Monica College that in any other community college district. Students from other parts of Los Angeles attend Santa Monica College because our mission mandates that we are open to all students that qualify, regardless of geographical location. Santa Monica College has a justified reputation as a top transfer institution, and as such, it attracts students from other parts of Los Angeles, providing many low income students the opportunity to transfer to a four year institution. As such it provides a vital role both locally and in Los Angeles. The whole point of Santa Monica College is to provide an opportunity for all young people, no matter where they live or what social class or race they are.

Has SMC done enough to prepare students for the current job market?

Santa Monica College does a good job of preparing students for the current job market. And because the job market is always changing we need to be constantly doing market scans and be in communication with newly emerging industries in order to create new career pathways. And we do this at Santa Monica College. Over the last several years we have developing some innovative new programs in solar power installation, recycling management, film production, and promotional pathways. And our more traditional career and technical education programs continue to expand and evolve, including accounting, photography, business, and cosmetology programs.

What are the benefits or pitfalls of offering 4-year degrees?

The benefits of offering 4-year degrees is that it expands the college’s ability to offer degrees that are in need in very specific employment sectors such as nursing and other allied health fields. The higher education system in California is not generating enough adequately credentialed students for the future job market. In order to do this, the higher education community, the state legislature, and the Governor agreed that community colleges should offer 4-year degrees. The pitfalls of offering 4 year degrees is that it could distract us from our core mission which is basic skills, transfer and 2 year career technical education degrees. We can avoid this pitfall by focusing in on developing a few very specific 4-year degrees, which is what the current legislation mandates.

What would you like to see change at SMC?

I would like to see us continue to focus on getting our basic skills students through the basic skills sequence more quickly and more successfully. Many student place three or four levels below college level in Math and English, and drop out because it takes so long to graduate. We need more accelerated courses and we need to combine courses so that students can more through more quickly. We need to continue to provide more effective tutoring support by mandating that students work with a tutor as part of their assignments. We also need to experiment more with alternative ways of teaching, especially in math. For example, research shows that by using project based and applied learning students can see more of the practical application of what they are learning. We also need to create stronger linkages with middle and high schools so that students are better prepared when they enter college. For example, we should make college courses more readily available to high schools students. We also need to work with the high schools to create interventions for students who are struggling in Math and English so they are prepared for college. In addition, we need to keep growing and innovating in our career technical education programs so we stay up to date with the evolving job market. Also, we need to continue to diversify our funding base so we are not so reliant on state funding which is not steady and reliable. For example, we need to build up our foundation so that we have more private funding, and we need to develop stronger ties with various employment sectors so that we can create a more stable funding for career technical education. In addition, we need to continue to work to have good relations with our neighbors and continue to work to reduce traffic. We will have a SMC stop on the Expo line and will encourage students to use it.

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