Porterville College President Dr. Claudia Habib welcomed everyone to the Convocation and Flex Day for the 2022 Fall Semester at the PC Gym on Thursday morning.

With a smile she graciously said, "Good morning everyone, Buenos Dias Pirate family! 

Welcome to the Fall semester.... And the start of our 95th anniversary!!!

This is an important milestone that we will acknowledge throughout the year. It is hard to believe that in a short five years we will celebrate our centennial... that will be a big celebration!”

Habib thanked Dr. Thad Russell, Vice President of Instruction; Dr. Bob Simkins, Academic Senate President, and Miranda Warren, assistant to the VP for putting the event together, saying they navigated the challenges of organizing Flex Day activities because PC didn’t know if another surge was going to derail plans to be back. “But here we are,” Habib said.

She also thanked everyone who worked to prepare the gym for the event, Felisa Hannah, Ramona Chiapa, Maribel Hernandez from the Porterville College Foundation, also Maintenance and Operation and the IT team

She especially thanked Kern Community College District Chancellor Sonya Christian "for starting your day with us, it means a lot to have you here this morning. Also, Trustee John Corkins thank you for addressing the group today, I am glad our many new employees had a chance to meet you today. Thank you for your relentless support for students in this community from K/12 to College.

With the Fall 2022 semester finally here, it’s exciting to know that we will soon enjoy the return of faculty and students in new and innovative ways. Although this year is destined to be like no other, I am confident that our shared experience will be meaningful and rewarding for all.

I am so excited to be here to welcome you all in person with our traditional breakfast. I would also like to acknowledge a few guests, who are connected to PC as alumni, or a business partner, member of the Porterville Breakfast Rotary Club, member of the PC Foundation.”

Among those who Habib welcomed were Corkins, Christian, KCCD Vice Chancellor, Educational Services Emmanuel Mourtzanos, Vice Chancellor, Workforce and Economic Development, Trudy Gerald, Porterville Unified School District Superintendent Nate Nelson, Burton School District Superintendent Sergio Mendoza, Porterville Mayor Martha Flores, City Manager John Lollis, and PUSD Pathways Program Director Cindy Brown.

These members of our community are great partners, supporting our programs, our students, and at a personal level, they are who made Porterville my community,” Habib said. “I thank you for being here.”

Dr. Habib recognized a lot of new employees at PC, as well as new students, and said how excited she was to have them join "our" college. “Hard for me to believe that I'm starting my fourth year as your President,” Habib said.

Habib acknowledged everyone who has joined PC since 2019, and those who've been there less than 3 years. Many of whom started during COVID.

"It's amazing to see how many new wonderful, energetic employees we have now. And for those who have been here a long time, part of our responsibility is to share with the new colleagues how committed we are to putting people first. We are back and we are going to recover the family feel, the camaraderie and care that was difficult to convey in the remote environment. I would like to recognize everyone who served in the hiring committees; thank you for your work and for forwarding me very qualified and outstanding applicants.

We have new faculty who are highly qualified, adding their talent, experience and innovation to our already talented PC staff and faculty. My admin team and I understand the extraordinary amount of hard work that goes into preparing for the start of a new academic year. We are grateful for your commitment. So, the last couple of years have been very dynamic for Porterville College, for the District and for all the colleges.

Habib went onto describe the challenges PC has faced. “It's been frustrating at times; it's been lightning speed for some of the changes that have happened; it's been uniting as well.

Sometimes it's led to conflict, but without a doubt, it has been fundamentally transformative for the students we serve. So, the work is often very complex.... We also know that the past couple years have been exciting, sometimes exhausting, but we have accomplished much, and we'll continue with those efforts.”

Habib said as a result of the faculty's hard work students starting classes next week are closer to reaching their academic goals “more than ever before, and with fewer barriers in front of them. Because of your compassion, your dedication, more students are able to access wrap-around services they need to be healthy, safe, and successful.

We may be back to campus, but the needs and challenges our students face continue. Let’s remember that we serve the population that was most affected by the pandemic which is reflected in the number of students we lost.”

Habib said to help students find their way back, “with urgency” PC will “facilitate partnerships and strategies to support them beyond their academic needs.

To fulfill our commitment to preparing students for their future, I invite you to endeavor, more than ever, in making students feel unconditional belonging with high quality learning and support systems. We must provide students with inclusive classrooms and safe spaces.”

Habib went onto say PC has encountered “turbulence” in recent years. “It is so important to be taking care of ourselves and each other. All of us have experienced some degree of trauma, we need to be kind to each other. If we are attending to our needs, and putting our people first, then we are better prepared to meet the needs of our students.

The transformation we experienced during the last two years was inevitable, but it has prepared us for the future.”

Habib said now is the best time to talk about PC's “great legacy” as it celebrates its 95th anniversary. “I invite you to prepare for the next century. How would the future look like for our students?

It is said that 'We live in the future that we see.'] Therefore, we need to imagine together the future for our students.”

She said innovation is key in PC meeting the evolving needs of industry. She added PC is focused on “enrollment recovery.”

We have had many planning meetings to formulate strategies and tactics aligned with the funding formula,” Habib said. “This helps us focus our work so we can achieve equitable outcomes, while ensuring recovery.”

Christian said it was fantastic to be at PC and remembered the community gathering at the graduation ceremony in May. She acknowledged Flores, "who is at the heart of Porterville and Porterville College." She said PC is a liberal arts college and that brings together the arts and critical thinking. She spoke about bringing economic mobility to the next level, or the next frontier,  . . . “the people at Porterville College.”

"I really want to recognize President Habib. “It's all about people and our complexities.” Christian also said she goes to Corkins for guidance, leading into his speech.

Corkins said the numbers of students at PC are better than expected when he and Dr. Habib recently discussed them. 

His history with the college is long, and he spoke about being a freshman at PC in 1972, and playing football, when they still had the old modular buildings. He went on to play football at Fresno State. 

Things are different now, communications was with land lines and teletype machines.”

He spoke about remote work and remote learning, and said online education can't replace in-person learning. “Meeting together face-to-face is part of the college experience. And social growth and well being is inherent in in-person classes.”

He said there were a large amount of students who want to go online, but meeting face to face, and being in class improves their emotional well-being.

Habib spoke about the Guided Pathways framework that will make a real impact on students, she said.

It is institutional change, and a vehicle for realizing the vision for success and for having students complete in two years and move on to a job or transfer to a four-year school,” she said.

She thanked Bob Simpkins, Primavera Arvisu and the Pathways teams. “The work that you all did last week helped set the agenda for this year. We now have two strands of focus for GP, one that focuses on completing the pathways and implementing the Program Mapper and the other on teaching and learning.

We will be layering this work with new upcoming initiatives that support adult learners, and ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce.

Sounds like a lot... and it is!”

Habib said students can't postpone their future. “Their needs are great, we are here to give them hope for the future, and we must deliver on that promise. So, yes, we are changing our pace,.. we must move at the pace, of those most impacted by the outcomes of our work. Please think about that. We must move at the pace of those most impacted by the outcomes of our work.

It will take all of us, with great collaboration across all areas of the campus, we will help our students reach their goals.

What better way to build on a 95-year legacy.”

Habib introduced two new employees of her management team, Ricardo Marmolejo, Director of Equity and Student Success, and Maria Battisti, Vice President of Finance.

Hector Hernandez, President of the Rotaract Club, said it was an honor to be part of the event and thanked Habib for the opportunity to speak as well as giving a big thank you to all the faculty.

Hernandez spoke with great feeling about all his work at PC and being part of the community, and despite the loss of family during the pandemic, he thanked the faculty for all their support and he thanked Stephanie Cortez for her support and being his mentor.

PC's first full day of the fall semester is Monday.

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