SRJC plans return to in-person instruction for majority of fall classes

Dr. Frank Chong, the community college’s president, made the announcement on Monday during the President’s Address to the Community event at the school’s Santa Rosa campus.|

Two-thirds of Santa Rosa Junior College’s classes will be available in person next fall, a reversal from previous campus mandates that made remote learning the norm during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Frank Chong, the community college’s president, announced the change Monday during his President’s Address to the Community at the school’s Santa Rosa campus.

Most courses at the college have been taught online amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chong said ahead of his address.

In spring 2021, 93% of courses were virtual and last semester 61% were, Santa Rosa Junior College spokesperson Erin Bricker said.

“Let me be clear, we are open and we will be back better than ever,” Chong told attendees.

The event marked the return of an annual SRJC campus tradition. The school’s presidential address has been canceled since 2020 as a part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of his remarks made during Monday’s event to an audience of roughly 250 people, Chong touched on some of the other transformations at the community college.

For example, the Lindley Center for STEM Education, a 100,000-square-foot building, now replaces the college’s science and math buildings on the Mendocino Avenue campus.

In addition, on the Petaluma campus there is a new science wing and student center. The junior college also has purchased a property that houses its Southwest Santa Rosa Center, which the school has rented for the past 13 years.

Courses on that campus range from English as a Second Language to computer literacy, according to SRJC’s website.

“It’s going to provide us an opportunity to update these facilities in order to better support the Roseland community and the Latinx community,” Chong said. “This is a clear commitment to the Roseland community.”

A request for $15 million in state funding, which would carve out 70 affordable units in the school’s prospective 352-bed residence hall, is close to being approved by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Chong announced during Monday’s address.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, told him the good news during a phone call on Friday, Chong said, adding that it is now awaiting Newsom’s signature.

The money would come from Newsom’s $2 billion Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, which was created last year to help California’s colleges and universities construct affordable on‑campus housing.

The $64 million development, which is taking shape along Elliott Avenue and Armory Drive on the Santa Rosa campus, is on track to be completed for students by fall of 2023.

The event was capped with the recognition of Pam Chanter, this year’s recipient of the President’s Medallion.

A retired insurance brokerage owner and partner, Chanter was awarded the medallion for her contributions to SRJC.

She has had a 12-year presence on the SRJC Foundation board, a nonprofit that raises and oversees funds for academic programs and special projects at the junior college.

At Chong’s request, Chanter co-chaired the college’s centennial anniversary campaign in 2018.

She also served as a former chair of the junior college’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, a group that monitors the spending of a $410 million bond, known as Measure H, which was approved by Sonoma County voters in 2014.

Dr. Robert Agrella, Chong’s predecessor, introduced Chanter during the event. He highlighted both her service to the Santa Rosa Junior College and the broader community through her work as chair of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board and as a board member of Los Cien, a Sonoma County Latino leadership group.

“Anyone who has ever served with Pam on a board or been involved with her on an activity knows she brings passion and commitment to everything she does, and is most deserving of being honored here today,” Agrella said.

Chanter said she has enjoyed seeing the college partner with members of the local community, including in the wake of the 2017 wildfires when Chong participated in a development board steering committee made up of 24 community leaders.

The committee created a fire recovery plan, which emphasized support for the county’s workforce, the construction industry in particular, Chanter said.

That led the junior college to apply for a U.S. Department of Commerce grant to build a new construction training center. The school was awarded $10 million a few months later and the construction center is now slotted for the college’s Petaluma campus, she said.

“It will be a tremendous resource for our construction workforce to build the housing that we need,” Chanter said “These are just a few examples that I’ve personally witnessed of how the college has been directly involved in efforts to support the greater success of the community and students.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or On Twitter @nashellytweets.

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