DMC president emphasizes college’s mission

Editor’s note: While the Foghorn is and always will be the voice of Del Mar College students, we felt it was important to make sure the president’s letter about the college was accessible to all.



When I began my tenure as President of Del Mar College, my alma mater, I stated that I would value ALL students in this community, regardless of race, ethnicity or socio-economic background, and that I looked forward to the chance to present ALL students with the opportunity to earn a quality college education and achieve their own dreams.escamilla cmyk

As I begin my seventh year in the President’s Office, I remain firm in my conviction to this principle, and I will continue to help fulfill the educational needs of ALL students who come to Del Mar and who dare to dream.

Recently, an article authored by DMC Regent Guy Watts entitled “Del Mar: Quality Versus Money” appeared in a local newspaper. The article makes numerous erroneous claims about the state of the College, including the claim that Del Mar has become a “sea of mediocrity” and that “bright students” no longer come to Del Mar because the College has been “swamped” by “unprepared” or “remedial” students. The article then attempts to correlate this claim with federal financial aid grants, illegal immigration, and the increase in the statewide population of Hispanics.

Because the article is incorrect and misguided in premise and conclusions, I would like to set the record straight.

  1. Del Mar College has not been “swamped” by “unprepared” students.

While the reality is that higher education as a whole is dealing with the challenge of “student readiness” for college, we enthusiastically embrace the challenge and are committed to helping every student succeed at Del Mar College.

In fact, the number of incoming students at Del Mar College enrolling in developmental English, Math and Reading classes has actually decreased over the last ten years. Total Developmental Education enrollment declined by 25% from Fall 2011 to Fall 2013. In fact, first-time-in-college students who placed in developmental course work decreased by 19% for the same period. So, the claim that the College has been “swamped” by developmental students is factually incorrect.

  1. Regardless of the number of remedial students, Del Mar College is not a “sea of mediocrity.”

Calling “unprepared” students a “negative impact” categorically mischaracterizes the College’s next potential success stories and ignores the intentionally broad statutory charge applicable to all community colleges under the Texas Education Code. The Code provides that the primary mission of a public community college is to offer “vocational, technical, and academic courses for certification or associate’s degrees. Continuing education, developmental and compensatory education consistent with open-admission policies and programs of counseling and guidance also are provided.”

In its April 2008 Strategic Plan, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board further detailed the “philosophy” of Community Colleges as follows:

“Texas public community colleges are uniquely positioned by philosophy, structure, and purpose to primarily meet the educational and training needs of the citizens they serve in their local taxing districts and in their service areas. Through cooperative efforts that promote continuity and efficiency, coupled with independent efforts to meet local community needs, community colleges are student-centered institutions sharing common values reflected in their commitment to:

n belief in the worth and dignity of the individual

n addressing the extraordinary diversity of Texas

n a vision of community as a place to be served and climate to be created

n excellence in teaching and learning

n open-door policies for meeting the needs of individuals with a wide range of educational and training goals

n implementation of the highest standards of ethical professional practice

n effective stewardship of the public trust and resources.

This philosophy is my philosophy, and it is synonymous with the Del Mar College Mission Statement:

Del Mar College provides access to quality education, workforce preparation, and lifelong learning for student and community success.  

Let me reassure you that the College will continue to fulfill its legal duty and stated mission to provide quality educational and life-long learning opportunities to all students who enroll here, including those seeking a step forward through the General Education Development Testing Program.

Consistent with our College philosophy and mission, I will continue to incorporate the GED Program faculty, staff, and students onto ALL campuses and centers of this College in order to better support those students. Keeping GED classes located in the portable buildings on a remote corner of the College’s West Campus will only continue until the current construction projects are completed and the program can be integrated.

As far as the College’s current reputation and standing, I would submit that the recent favorable election results approving our Bond Proposal and recent survey data from the community indicating favorable College ratings of over 90% are strong evidence of the community’s faith in and support of the College and its mission! I can personally attest that in my regular visits throughout the Del Mar District, I have personally witnessed our community’s affection for our College, and I know that bright students will continue to enroll here, year after year, because the College delivers on its promise of educational opportunities for all.

For years, at monthly Board meeting after monthly Board meeting, we have proudly recognized students, faculty and administrators, who have brought fame and recognition to Del Mar College through their outstanding accomplishments.

Therefore, I respectfully disagree with any characterization of the College as “mediocre.”

  1. Ultimately, College programs will be located where appropriate and to maximize facilities resources.

The article also proposes that the College place “all recruited ‘unprepared’ Remedial/GED students on the West Campus and restoring the central campus as a center for academic excellence for ‘prepared students.’”

Decisions on how to utilize campus buildings and space are always carefully made and only after conducting thorough due diligence and study regarding the best use of College resources. Maximizing access for students is always a priority.

It would not be appropriate to adopt a building plan that intentionally or consequently isolates GED or remedial programs. Equal opportunities means equal access.

  1. The College does not “recruit” students for financial aid.

Finally, I want to address the statement in the article that the College somehow “recruits” students for the purpose of obtaining Pell Grants. Let me be clear: the College recruits ALL students who have a dream and desire to learn, regardless of socio-economic background, including those students who need financial aid assistance and those who don’t. The College has an “open admissions” policy. It is simply incorrect to claim that the College is engaged in any kind of selective recruitment.

It is also incorrect to suggest that there is a correlation between students who are awarded Pell Grants, which are based only on economic needs, and college “unpreparedness.”

The bottom line is that the College will continue to carry out our Mission and continue to make educational opportunity a reality for as many students as are willing to dream.

Thank You.

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