Santa Rosa Junior College President Frank Chong, during his state of the college address Thursday, touted a triumphant school year that saw an increase in the student population, stronger endowment and grant funding and the passage of a $410 million bond measure that will pave the way for the 97-year-old school’s next 100 years.
Speaking before a packed crowd at the college’s Walter Haehl Pavilion, Chong detailed a number of highlights for the year. He said the school’s state and federal grants have increased from $2.2 million to $9.1 million, while the college’s foundation endowment has increased from $30 million to $48 million.
The school’s international student population went from 83 to 185 students, netting more than $925,000 of unrestricted revenue, and the school’s overall student population grew 4.64 percent, to more than 28,000.
“I would say by all measures it has been a successful year,” Chong said.
As the school approaches its 100th anniversary in 2018, Chong outlined a number of proposed school expansion and renovation projects.
These include a new science, technology, engineering and math building in Santa Rosa; modernization of “legacy buildings” such as Garcia, Bailey and Analy halls, Tauzer Gym and the Burbank Auditorium; a new science wing and modernization of the Student Life Building at the Petaluma campus; new Shone Farm classrooms and faculty offices; and a possible permanent home for the Southwest Center in Santa Rosa.
He said the facilities planning process would begin “in full swing” this fall, and that the school was in the process of hiring a director of capital projects who would oversee Measure H funds.
“He or she will be in charge of developing what I call the 2030 plan, a blueprint for excellence,” Chong said. “It’s once again an opportunity to reimagine our college and prepare it for the next century.”
Chong also highlighted key trends of the previous school year.
He said the school’s white student population, which had been declining for past four years, increased to more than 14,000 students, a nearly 6 percent jump. White students now are 52 percent of the college’s student body.
The number of Latino students also has increased to more than 9,000, an increase of 9.25 percent. Latinos now make up 32 percent of the school population.
The Asian student population increased to 1,300, a 4.8 percent gain, while the African-American population, now nearly 700, increased by 1.3 percent. The Native American student population remained stable at about 200 students.
The school’s concurrent high school student program grew by a dramatic 34 percent to 1,089 students, and the number of online students grew by 5 percent.
Chong’s address to the community was followed by the awarding of the President’s Medallion, which recognizes outstanding contributors and supporters of the school.
This year the medallion was awarded to Laurie Beard, a longtime employee and community supporter of the junior college who retired in 2003 as the executive assistant to the president.
Beard, whose accomplishments were outlined by Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron, was a Doyle Scholarship recipient who studied business and aeronautics at the campus and became the first woman to earn her pilot’s license through the school’s aviation program.
Beard helped launch the Day Under the Oaks event and co-founded the college’s alumni association. She was a member of the Bear Cub Athletic Trust and kept statistics at SRJC football games.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here