As this uniquely challenging year at San Jacinto College comes to an end, I’m in awe reflecting on all the monumental adaptations and quick changes implemented at our institution as we navigated COVID-19 while continuing to serve our students and community. From the launch of our Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and the opening of our new Generation Park Campus to the transition to altered operations in March, this year has been an incredible undertaking, and we are so proud of the new, creative ways we’ve enhanced our services as an educational resource for students.
As the world faced COVID-19 and its unprecedented challenges, the College quickly transitioned to altered operations mid-spring and launched San Jac My Way, offering students flexible course modalities to stay on track and persevere with their educational journey despite the obstacles created by the pandemic. This was no easy feat, and our students, faculty, and staff rose to the occasion in ways beyond my imagination.
As the College began altered operations, additional student support initiatives were implemented, including a laptop loaner and delivery program along with textbook deliveries to students. With the shift to virtual learning, our students relied more than ever on the College’s Open Books program, which has provided online access to course materials since 2017 but expanded significantly this year with more than $4.3 million savings to students. Cumulatively, the Open Books program has saved students more than $14.9 million on the cost of textbooks and course materials and we’re grateful to our faculty for leading this important effort as we continue meeting our students’ needs.
In another effort to help our students meet their pandemic related challenges head-on, the San Jacinto College Foundation Board of Directors approved $200,000 in emergency funding. This, combined with $90,000 in other funds, helped provide money to any student experiencing unexpected hardships related to COVID-19 and the College’s shift to altered operations. More than 820 students benefitted from these emergency efforts and the Board and I were proud of the Foundation Board’s quick response to offer critical support in this way.
In addition to transitioning existing and future courses to virtual and hybrid formats, the College’s faculty and staff also focused on executing a spring teach-out, helping students complete coursework necessary for graduation. They implemented innovative ideas and creative solutions to obstacles created by necessary hands-on learning and required practical testing across our technical programs. Amid such daunting circumstances, I will always remember celebrating our spring graduates during our virtual commencement ceremony. Their hard work inspired us all.
The stories of adaptability and perseverance never cease to amaze our Board, and I hope you enjoy hearing about our students, faculty, and staff as much as I do. As a Board, we remain committed to keeping higher education accessible and attainable for everyone who chooses San Jacinto College. The unique challenges we’ve overcome together during this past year have helped us reach new heights in our mission to support our students, and this will continue beyond 2020.
We thank you for being a part of our journey this year, and we appreciate your continued support of our students, faculty, and staff. I hope you enjoy reading more about this incredible year in our 2020 Report to the Community.
Chair, San Jacinto College Board of Trustees