By Jasmine Treviño
Pulse Staff Reporter
According to recent performance updates, PAC’s graduation rate has increased 5.9 percent over the last three years.
This and other topics were covered on Thursday, March 28, 2016, when Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, held a Town Hall meeting in the PAC Performing Arts Center, Room 190, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Only one student–yours truly–was present.
Flores explained different performance updates, including course completion rates, number of high-risk courses and student satisfaction.
After Flores discussed the performance update with his fellow administrators, Joseph Coppola, a Speech instructor at PAC and president of Faculty Senate, raised questions and concerns from some of his PAC students in three categories: Student Success, Academic Success and College Services. The following list is from an email that Coppola sent to PAC faculty:
- Students are receiving holds on their accounts from the Bursar’s Office when everything is paid for. How can the Bursar’s Office make sure students are not penalized (such as being dropped or not being able to register for classes) due to the non-payment status?
- Students are experiencing an immense amount of difficulty trying to set up an appointment with their assigned advisor when they visit the advising center. One solution could be ending the requirement of emailing to setup an appointment and allowing the front desk staff to schedule an appointment immediately when students are present.
- The Bursar’s Office employees should work on their body language and voice tone to appear friendlier to students.
- The current financial aid available to students makes it hard for students to attend classes in the summer. Would you consider the development of a different form of financial aid application to include summer into the semester year?
- There is a lack of qualified tutors for higher-level courses such as calculus or physics. How can this be addressed? One suggestion is to allow faculty to substitute non-classroom duties for tutoring.
- Why for some majors are there are a limited number of classes available, particularly for BIOL 1314? A possible solution is offering more than one section for certain classes.
- Many teachers are requiring textbooks for their class, but do not adequately use them. Thus making students waste money. What are some solutions you think will work for students? OER is one solution.
- Teachers are requiring e-text books with course materials online, at times they are more expensive than renting a hard copy book. Students should be able to choose the type of textbook because of affordability. What is your take on this problem?
- Students are coming across teachers that go off topic for a course. What can you do to make sure the course material is actually taught in class?
- We are not satisfied with the cafeteria because prices are too high for the amount/quality of food. Could we bring in more variety and cut out certain foods and replace with more favorable foods via survey of faculty and students?
- The out-of-district tuition rate for out-of-district students continues to rise, while in-district stays the same. Why does the out of district tuition continue to rise while the in district doesn’t? Perhaps a solution would be to extend the in-district boundary to the outlying counties around San Antonio.
Coppola only raised two of the issues, both under College Services, during the Town Hall to allow time for others to ask questions. The president said that his team would respond to all of the issues in writing.
As for the first issue, administration said they would set up a meeting with the cafeteria vendor.
“We will send out a survey and hold the vendor accountable for any complaints that students and faculty have,” said Beatriz Joseph, vice president of College Services.
Addressing the second issue, Flores said, “The citizens in the surrounding counties would have to hold an election to tax themselves. The reason why students in-district pay so little is because it comes out of [Bexar County homeowners’] taxes.”
The surrounding counties would have to talk to their citizens about this issue, Flores explained.
“The Town Hall meeting exemplifies how Dr. Flores engages employees and students by informing them of the opportunity to attend so they can be briefed on the state of the college and ask questions about any concerns they may have,” said Coppola. “Dr. Flores and his team even welcomed questions from two of my speech classes and will be answering them in writing so that I can disseminate the responses to my students. Students, faculty, and staff should not be reluctant to advocate for issues that matter to them. They will find a responsive college president, administration and faculty willing to listen and address their concerns.”
To provide feedback on how Palo Alto College might better serve students, email President Flores or give him a call at (210) 486-3960.