By Erik Luna
Adelante, a program for first-year students, was being considered for suspension due to budget cuts this summer, but faculty leaders became concerned with the lack of a viability study.
“The whole program has been in existence for a couple of years now. It was developed during a period of time where the college had a significant surplus,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Richard Moyer said.
“A lot of literature says that there’s real value in developing cohort communities and providing specialized needs for students, so that they adjust to college, but when it was created money wasn’t an issue,” he said.
The program, which was originally started by Anita Ornelas, was costly because it originally involved reassigning time for a director and two counselors.
Even though, the school has had to cut back to one counselor for the program, it still costs approximately $200,000 to run the program each year. After Ornelas left, Viviana Castellon took over as director. Due to complications, Castellon had to resign in July.
Moyer and former Vice President of Workforce Education Renee Martinez decided they would have to suspend the program.
Yet the lack of notification and the failure to do a viability study, a study in which a group analyzes the effectiveness of a program at the college, got faculty members upset.
“As soon as I heard about this decision, I contacted other faculty leaders. All of us agreed that a program cannot be suspended without a viability review being conducted to examine how well a program is doing and how much it still costs,” said Alex Immerblum, president of the academic senate.
Immerblum said that he and other faculty members met with the college president, and it was decided that the program would not be suspended, but that a viability study would soon be launched to determine the fate of Adelante.
“We probably should have consulted with more people, but we had to make a decision and we said we’ll take care of the Adelante students, giving them a class for this semester,” Moyer said.
“It was the suddenness of the former director’s resignation that precipitated this, but she was a hard worker and she just made her decision,” he said.
The president also said that administrative and counseling hours (pay) would be provided at the end of the summer for the resigning director and the counseling department in order to help students who wanted to enroll in the program for fall.
Since the meeting, two faculty members have been chosen to be the director and counselor for Adelante, Jessica Cristo and Jessica Peak. Cristo, who was not aware of the possibility of Adelante being suspended, started her assignment as director on September 10.
“I can’t speak (about the suspension). However, Adelante does meet the recommendations of the student success task force,” Cristo said.
According to Moyer, who originally opted for suspension, pending a viability study, the selection of the two Jessicas was a possible good sign, because they were well suited for the job.
“Peak stepped in with the orientation and was of great help… and Cristo has been working with our summer bridge program, so she’s used to working with high school students (that are making) a transition to college. She has in incredible background in terms of understanding AB-540 students, and has done an incredible amount of research,” Moyer said.