By James B. Miller Jr.
Pulse Staff Reporter
A comprehensive Alamo Colleges SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for 2015-2016 has revealed low participation from two key stakeholder groups: students and faculty.
The analysis, which serves to identify internal and external factors that affect Alamo Colleges, is used to articulate and establish strategic plans moving forward. With a lack of inclusivity for faculty and students, the analysis favored input from district staff and administration in disproportionate numbers.
Joseph Coppola, an instructor of Speech in the Fine & Performing Arts department at Palo Alto, currently serves as Faculty Senate president. Coppola said that over 50 percent of the employees at Palo Alto College are faculty stakeholders, and he was concerned with the truncated involvement of faculty in the analysis over the years. Coppola noted that from the entire Alamo Colleges, only 17 full-time faculty members and 26 Students participated in the analysis as compared with 103 district staff and 93 college administrators.
“I spoke with the SPPE about it and am confident that next year will reflect a more accurate percentage of involvement,” said Coppola.
The survey was conducted by the Strategic Planning and Performance Excellence department and was supervised by Dr. Carlos Ayala, senior strategist.
“This SWOT analysis survey is not based on a random sample, which would be representative of the concerns of the majority of the population,” said Ayala. “We included all the different constituents, but only the people who have been nominated by their presidents and counselors. Those are the people who are making the decisions. It’s not a democratic method. If you call that a bias, which I don’t, then that would be the only bias. It is focused on the decision makers… the people who have a voice in the process.”
According to the analysis found on the Alamo Colleges website, affordability and value is Alamo Colleges’ strength. When polled, many students considered the results inconsistent with changes over the past few years.
Students voiced their concern over the lack of student participation in the process. The key concern of the students was that of the decision by the Board of Trustees to adopt Policy E. 1.3, which removed declared majors from diplomas and transcripts for many, effectively damaging the value of attaining a degree from Alamo Colleges in many fields.
“The decision to remove majors, like Psychology and Kinesiology, among others, from the transcripts and diplomas hurts employment and transfer opportunities,” said Sofia Medina, a second-year student at Palo Alto. “It hurts the value of Palo Alto when compared with other colleges by a lot.”
Of the 80 faculty, staff, employees and students approached for this article, few were aware of the existence of the analysis, and even fewer agreed with the results.