SBCC explores new ways to improve community image

SBCC explores new ways to improve community image

PHIL JOSEPH, Channels Staff

The College Planning Council discussed implementing a project to redefine City College’s image by improving communication within the college and the community.

At the advice of the Board of Trustees, Superintendent-President Lori Gaskin met with consultation firm to research how to improve. The firm, SAE, came up with a “Strategic Communications Plan” that outlined the strengths and weaknesses of City College as they appeared to the faculty, students and community.

The report details where the college excelled with communications, and where it fell short. The complete 107 page document can be found be found here.

“That’s one of the things that we really want to try to be focussed on; staying ahead, being the storyteller—owning your own narrative because it’s a wonderful narrative,” said Sheri Benninghoven, former communications director of the League of California Cities.

Benninghoven outlined the plan, emphasizing the college’s need to present a key message. The research shows that the community underestimates the positive impact the college has, and stresses the need for it to be known.

“We’ve got a lot going on here a lot that people should be proud of,” said Gaskin, echoing the council’s general optimism.

The plan is likely to be implemented over the course of the next three to five years.

A major complaint highlighted in the report is that the community feels that the college doesn’t respond to negativity or allegations against it that may be untrue, creating a lack of presence.

The college has come under scrutiny from the local community since the defeat of Measure S in 2014. The ballot measure intended to authorize nearly $300 million in bonds to the City College, but failed to reach the 55 percent supermajority needed to pass.

“The college became a bit silent during the ballot measure, and there were a number of opportunities that you had to speak into that dialogue and that narrative often was lacking for you and the story that you were trying to tell,” said Benninghoven.

During emergency scenarios communication is not as strong as needed, according to the council.

“There truly is a lack of a communications program that would tell what’s supposed to happen when an emergency occurs on campus,” said Benninghoven.

Members of the community have also conveyed irritation towards City College over rising housing costs, traffic and large spikes of international students. However, the council feels that the City College’s story is not being adequately told.

The council feels the economic role that the college plays in the community as both an employer, and to draw in consumers has been underestimated.

The report has a lengthy section dedicated to plans for implementing changes within the structure to address the multiple concerns listed.

The council hopes to utilize this plan to build a stronger communication structure from within faculty and staff and create a single, unified City College voice that will reestablish healthy and positive relations with the community through a well circulated message.