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Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board begins another year tackling tough budget

Posted on: Feb 10, 2010 1:00:00 AM

Contact: Della Elliott

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board

begins another year tackling tough budget

Board officers get the nod to continue as a team

EL CAJON -The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board has unanimously re-elected Bill Garrett board president, Deanna Weeks board vice president, and Greg Barr board clerk for 2010.

“The outlook for the state budget remains grim this coming year and we are not likely to see any relief as students contend with crowded classes and employees do their best to maintain the same level of service, despite there being more students and fewer workers,” said Garrett, who first joined the board in 2004, and was elected to a two-year term in 2006 and to a four-year term in 2008.

“Despite the somber financial outlook, this board and this district remain committed to maintaining a solid educational program. We will do everything within our means to provide the classes and services our students need.”

Chancellor Cindy L. Miles congratulated the board-elected officers.

 “The board’s decision to return you to your respective posts reflects its confidence in you as an effective team,” Miles said. “Your experience and commitment have been critical in maintaining fiscal stability and in making the associated difficult decisions during these tough budgetary times.”

Expanding board profile

The past year has seen an expansion of the governing board’s profile, with its leaders’ increasing involvement in community college initiatives, as well as appointments to commissions, both regional and statewide.

The San Diego-Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association Board Alliance is currently led by Bill Garrett. Trustee Rick Alexander was its first president. Created in 2002 to tap elected officials as a resource for regional advocacy, the SDICCCA Board Alliance is a group of governing board trustees and CEOs representing six college districts, including GCCCD, and nine colleges in the two-county region.

Garrett is one of 33 people named to the Community College League of California’s Commission on the Future, charged with developing “A 2020 Vision for Student Success.”

In another key appointment, Garrett will represent the governing board as a member of CLASS -- the California Leadership Alliance for Student Success -- a data-based student-success initiative funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation. GCCCD is one of 15 community college districts statewide selected to participate.

Weeks, a governing board member since 2004, is well known regionally for her strong support of business and education partnerships and as president and CEO of the East County Economic Development Council. She has been recognized at the local, regional, state and national levels and honored by organizations as diverse as the California Space Authority, the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Business Journal.

The founder of the Connectory, a nationally recognized online buyer-supplier network, Weeks also developed the San Diego Defense and Technology Consortium and the East County EDC Foundation, which works to strengthen career and technical education in the region’s high schools.

Elected to the governing board in 2006, Barr co-chaired the district’s textbook task force with Garrett in an effort to focus on the high cost of textbooks and other course materials and to generate cost-savings for students. Prior to his retirement, Barr taught high school history for 30 years, then for four years coordinated the training of teachers and staff in computer applications. He continues to teach part-time. Barr has been a member of three accreditation teams, participating in the evaluation of continuation high schools.

Other board members are Rick Alexander, active in East County real estate and a trustee since 1990, and Mary Kay Rosinski, a special-education teacher elected to her first term in 2008.

The governing board holds its regular meetings on the third Tuesday of each month. Meetings start at 5:30 p.m., with board members going into closed session and reconvening at 6:30 p.m. open session. The board meets at Griffin Gate at Grossmont College in even-numbered months (February, April, June, August, October and December) and at the student center at Cuyamaca College in alternate months.

 For more information, visit or call (619) 644-7010.

Cuyamaca’s programs in music industry studies and music education are both transfer-degree programs developed by Setzer and approved by the state. The first combines training in music theory, literature, and performance with studies in music technology and business. The second is designed for the student aspiring to become a credentialed music teacher.

Norris, who plans to transfer into the music industry studies program at California State University, Northridge, describes Setzer as the best instructor he’s ever had and marvels at his ability to hold a class transfixed, even as he’s covering material that, on the surface, seems less than enthralling.

“I’ve taken classes at other community colleges and at (San Diego) State and I’ve never seen students as interested in their classes as they are in Pat’s,” he said. “I’m taking a history of jazz class right now and you kind of figure with the younger students, that jazz wouldn’t be something they would respond to, but he makes such a connection with students that they’re really drawn into the subject. And Pat knows so much about different types of music – it’s not just the classics with him. He even knows rap, which kind of blows me away.”

In his nomination letter, Cuyamaca College science professor and Academic Senate President Michael Wangler praised Setzer for his innovation and commitment to students and the college.

“He has been an exemplary mentor to both his students and peers alike and he has earned the respect of the college community for his dedication, compassion and professionalism,” Wangler wrote. “He motivates and inspires his students to achieve their dreams, and is a role model for all of us who aspire to be the best in what we do.”

Governing Board President Bill Garrett said Setzer epitomizes the tirelessly devoted educator who thrives to make a difference in students’ lives. He added that Cuyamaca’s performing arts complex is a lasting legacy to Setzer’s contribution to the college and the East County as a whole.

 “This facility is a tremendous investment in our college by East County taxpayers,” he said in reference to Proposition R, the $207 million bond measure approved by voters in 2002 to build and expand badly needed facilities at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges. “Professor Setzer thoroughly understands and embraces the challenge to use this investment to enrich the educational and cultural lives of our students and the broader community. Everyone benefits from this facility, which has become the go-to place for high-school band competitions, ethnic music festivals, jazz ensembles, even the world-class bluegrass music of the Kruger Brothers.”

The performing arts complex just this past weekend was the site of the inaugural Grossmont Union High School District Arts Festival, which featured a variety of student productions in music, theater and the visual arts. The high school district has never held a districtwide event showcasing student art works and productions because of a lack of facilites, organizers say. Cuyamaca’s performing arts center proved to be the perfect venue.

“We are delighted that people are discovering what a cultural asset this facility is,” said Ron Manzoni, interim college president. “It is largely due to Pat’s vision that the performing arts theater and complex are here to benefit the East County region that we strive to serve.”

Setzer, who began his career in 1980, teaching at Drexel University in Philadelphia and Bucks County Community College in Newton, Pa. before joining the Cuyamaca College faculty full time in 1996, said he models his teaching after instructors who have been instrumental in his own professional development.

“When I recall educators who were my mentors, I don’t think of facts from their lectures; I remember words of encouragement they gave me at difficult moments, insightful criticisms they made of my work, extra hours they devoted to helping me and other students, or offhand remarks that stayed with me because they revealed something about their integrity or dedication,” he wrote in a statement submitted during the nomination process for the Hayward award. “My mentors inspired me to give my best efforts and to set my goals high; I hope that in my career as an educator, I can do the same for my students.”

Since 1989 – the first year the Hayward award was presented – seven San Diego County community college instructors have received the plaudit, founded by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. The last instructor from San Diego County to win the prestigious award was Grossmont College Professor Zoe Close, who was lauded in 2005. 

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s colleges are serving a combined student population of nearly 31,000 students each semester. For more information about Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, go to or call (619) 644-7010.

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