Shirley Lashmett opened for her first time as President. She thanked God for His love, care, and guidance. She asked Him to help her discard negative thoughts and embrace positive ones in leading our club in serving our community. Mitch Mitchell led with pledge.
Marj Davis introduced her great grandson from Dallas who will attend Orange Coast College (OCC). Ed Romeo had print copies of the OASIS Newsletter and highlighted the garden concert advertised on the back. Shirley solicited volunteers for the weekly raffles and offered to make a schedule for them.
Craig Boardman introduced Dr. Anglica Suarez, President of OCC, to update us on the college’s benefits to students and the community. Angelica joined OCC in 2019 as its second female President. OCC was founded in 1947, opened in 1948 at Santa Ana Army Base, and later moved to Costa Mesa. OCC is one of Orange County’s (OC’s) three Coast colleges (the others are Golden West and Coastline). It provides Associate of Art and Science degrees, certificates of achievement, and lower-division classes transferable to 4-year institutions. OCC boasts the top ranking in OC for combined transfers to the University of California and California State Universities, as well as to prestigious private universities. Currently, OCC has 17,000 students per semester but hopes to increase to 18,000 or more (pre-pandemic levels).
OCC’s footprint has grown in the last few years. In 2019, it opened its new Community Planetarium, a state-of-the-art facility that offers the best in informal science education. During the pandemic, OCC opened the College Center, a three story building with the Captain’s Table, a restaurant with food court style dining, along with a Culinary Arts Program. OCC’s new Student Union hosts roughly 50 student clubs and other organizations and has offices for counselors. The building’s second floor is home to the
Veterans’ Resource Center, aimed at providing all veteran services in one place. The Kinesiology and Aquatics Complex is where OCC’s Men’s Water Polo and Swim and Dive teams practice.
In the fall of 2020, OCC became the 12th community college to offer on-campus housing. The housing, located on Adams Avenue, can accommodate over 800 residents, more than any other community college in Southern California. The housing consists of six or seven buildings with 300 fully furnished units with studio, one, two, and four bedroom floorplans. Each student signs a lease with a below market price covering utilities. Financial aid is available. When the project first opened, because of the pandemic, it had 50% occupancy and suffered financially. Currently, there is 100% occupancy with a waiting list. OCC may build more housing in the future.
Historically, most of OCC’s courses, student clubs, and other activities took place on campus with 6-7% of courses online. During the pandemic, however, OCC was required to move 2000 classes online. OCC’s leadership and faculty struggled with this challenge but worked together to make it happen. Creative professors even succeeded in conducting science, dance, and culinary classes online. At this point, most classes are back on campus, with 20% online.
OCC also has a Newport Beach campus on Pacific Coast Highway. It has rowing, sailing, and professional mariners centers. OCC partners with the Coast Guard to train crews to sail. The Coast Guard certifies graduates.
George Lesley asked about OCC’s tuition. Angelica said classes are $47 per unit, but financial aid is available and many students qualify for two free years.
Joe Brown asked about parking for the Planetarium. Parking is available in Lot E next to the building and otherwise anywhere on campus. Currently, there is no charge, although OCC may resume parking fees in the next year or two.
Ken DuFour asked how OCC is ranked in number of international students. Angelica stated OCC is top ten in the nation and third in California. OCC has a global engagement center that recruits them. Mitch wondered why OCC recruits so many international students when many California residents are experiencing difficulties with acceptance to public colleges and universities. Angelica noted international students pay more which allows OCC to create more capacity and class offerings for local students. In terms of the impact of international students at the California public universities, the community colleges are diligent about ensuring space is available for their transfer students.
Ken asked if OCC has difficulties in attracting or retaining instructors. Angelica said OCC hired ten and thirteen instructors in 2020 and 2021, respectively. The Coast District has a good reputation for salary, benefits, stability in leadership, and more. The high cost of housing, however, presents a challenge in recruiting instructors outside of Southern California.
Leo Fracalosy asked the ratio of male to female students. Angelica replied 52% female, 48% male.
Mitch asked how OCC’s curriculum compares to other community colleges. Angelica explained the community colleges have similar missions in preparing students to enter the work force or to transfer to 4-year schools. As to work force training, the colleges tend to offer different programs and try not to compete in this regard.
Ed asked whether any of OCC’s original buildings are still standing. Unfortunately, they are not. In hindsight, OCC would have kept some of them.
Gary Tewinkle asked Angelica her three biggest concerns. Each arose because of the pandemic and include 1. student learning loss; 2. student mental health issues from isolation; and 3. decreased funds due to reduced enrollment.
Angelica selected the raffle winners, Shirley and Mike Gertner. Shirley closed the meeting with a short reading from Genesis. “And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth.” Then he made the earth round and He laughed, and laughed, and laughed!