Chancellor's Update-May 21

An update from Chancellor Stuart Van Horn

The following message is being sent on behalf of Dr. Stuart Van Horn, Chancellor of the West Hills Community College District:

Good afternoon.  Thank you for participating in yesterday’s Town Hall.  All executive cabinet members appreciated your participation as we work through a series of very difficult decisions necessary to ensure sustainability of our core mission.  I also want to again convey my appreciation for the incredible efforts at our colleges to provide alternative commencement ceremonies.  I had the opportunity to visit each college and it was a needed reminder of why we are in the education business.  My thanks again to everyone who worked so hard over the past month to transition to the alternative format.  You did a marvelous job ensuring each student had a unique, special experience.

As we continue to prepare for a difficult 2020-2021 academic year in response to the substantial state funding cuts and state funding deferrals, I am writing to communicate an extension of our virtual, remote operations through July 31, 2020.  Attached is an updated timeline for your information.  Please do feel free to share your thoughts with me.  You can send an email or complete and submit this form.  As always, please visit our employee COVID-19 resources page.

Local, county, and state government directives continue to determine when colleges are allowed to open.  Yesterday, Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health issued a communication that higher education is not permitted to reopen, which includes K-12 school districts.  Reopening our colleges and educational center will not be permitted in Stage 2 of the Governor’s mandate to gradually reopen California.  I think it is reasonable to assume that higher education will be one of the last industries to resume business as usual because of concerns with social distancing, contact tracing, and proximity closeness of students, faculty, and staff.

This unimaginable trinity (failed implementation of the new Student Centered Funding Formula, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the horrific news outlined in the Governor’s May revised budget for 2020-2021) has far reaching implications on our collective psyche.  The uncertainty is extraordinarily difficult to deal with and is impossible to separate ourselves from as we worry about the future.  The forces shaping events and our realities are so irrational for us.  None of us could neither predict the depth of this disruption nor do we have any clear resolution to the amount of time ahead it will take to recover educationally, economically, and socially.  It has left us gasping for answers.  It hurts and angers each of us.  As it relates to selected upcoming decisions, I expect to begin releasing information on numerous other decisions in early June.

As we conclude an unimaginable 2019-2020 academic year tomorrow, I want you to know that not even this horrific trinity of consequences we are dealing with is enough to move me away from my belief in us.  Your continued resilience to overcome these obstacles is a privilege to observe; and your relentless commitment to support and provide educational access to our disadvantaged citizenry is far more than noble.  It is a wellspring of opportunity leading to social mobility.  I am grateful for your continuing efforts.  I wish you the best in the coming weeks.  Be safe and stay well.

Stuart Van Horn, ED.D.