What an incredible whirlwind this year has been for San Jacinto College! I am honored and humbled to serve as Chancellor at this great institution, seeing firsthand how our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly throughout this unique year of ever-evolving challenges. Our College community has truly come together like never before as we pursued every avenue possible to maintain educational accessibility for our students. We layered on every innovative solution imaginable to enhance our support of our students’ needs during these unprecedented circumstances.
When we realized COVID-19 would impact our area, it was amazing to see all of our departments and staff spring into action developing protocols, creating contingency plans, deploying signage and student communications, and establishing contact tracing methodology to help the College combat the disease’s spread. Our College values of collaboration and innovation have never been more on display than in those critical weeks transitioning multiple campuses to virtual learning and executing other sweeping changes to campus life.
Student success has always been our mission, and this challenging year presented many opportunities to innovate the ways we support our students throughout their educational journey. Everything from virtual advising appointments and online tutoring to curbside food market pickups, tech device distributions, and designated free Wi-Fi lots has been a collective effort to keep our students on track and on their way to completing their degree or certificate. I’m especially proud of how faculty and staff embraced a new program, San Jac Cares, personally completing more than 53,000 calls to students to help understand their unique situations, connect them with resources, and encourage them on their journey. In a socially distant environment, San Jac Cares has not only helped our students feel supported but also strengthened our College’s sense of community.
Our students’ tenacity has amazed me. They persevered through pandemic-related hardships, navigated the transition to online and hybrid learning, and displayed astounding resiliency. In addition to the enhanced student support services and personalized San Jac Cares touchpoints, the College was able to provide critical financial support to our students experiencing hardships with $290,000 in emergency funding from the San Jacinto College Foundation and other sources, nearly $9.6 million in federal CARES Act funding ($4.7 million going directly to students), and $360,000 in fundraising from the College’s annual Foundation gala.
As our College community rallied to strengthen a supportive, inclusive environment despite distanced learning and COVID-19 obstacles, the College was also pushing forward with new programs like the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Harris County Promise @ San Jac program, and a new footprint with the opening of our Generation Park Campus. This transformational year has ensured that strides made will carry us beyond the pandemic and into the future with a fresh look at creative, courageous ways to turn each educational challenge into an opportunity for growth, innovation, and excellence.
I believe we are well on our way in leading this charge. This year, San Jacinto College was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction and again ranked among the nation’s Top 10 Community Colleges as a finalist for The Aspen Institute’s 2021 Prize for Community College Excellence. Additionally, The Aspen Institute awarded the College two Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Awards— one for the associate degree in nursing program and the other for our process technology program. These are honors for our College and wonderful recognitions for our faculty, staff, and students!
I know you will enjoy reading more about the incredible stories of our students, faculty, and staff in this year’s Report to the Community. I am reminded every year of the tremendous support we receive, and for that I say thank you. I know we are making a difference in the lives of students, and your continued support is forever appreciated.
Brenda Hellyer, Ed.D.
Chancellor, San Jacinto College