Community Farewell from Sheila Ortego, Retiring President of SFCC | - July 24, 2012

"This community has shown unprecedented support for the community college"

The following is a letter from Sheila Ortego, outgoing president of Santa Fe Community College. Read more about Ortego's retirement and accomplishments; learn more about incoming SFCC President Ana 'Cha' Guzman.

Dear Friends of SFCC,

It’s hard to believe that in just one month I will retire after six wonderful years of serving as president of SFCC. It seems even more incredible that I began my higher education career in 1983, helping to establish and then nurture this great college.

Needless to say, SFCC has been a very important part of my life.  The faculty and staff at the college are among some of the brightest and hardworking people I’ve ever met.  I have been so grateful to have the privilege of working with them on behalf of students and this community. Together, we have made thousands of dreams come true.

This community has shown unprecedented support for the community college. During the past five years, we’ve passed two bond elections totaling $60 million, which enabled us to start the most ambitious building program since the founding of the college. Now I’m pleased to see how the Health and Sciences Center is filled with students who will become our city’s nurses, emergency medical workers, dental health professionals and more.  At the Trades and Advanced Technology Center, the biofuels program, green building and environmental technologies program students are already changing the world.

It is my hope - and that of the SFCC Governing Board and the Learning Center District Board - that in the very near future, we’ll see our Higher Education Center be able to expand the opportunity for more affordable and advanced post-secondary education right here in Santa Fe. 

SFCC has worked hard to improve student outcomes and general institutional effectiveness through the years.  Some of the latest data are most encouraging, and I am proud of these accomplishments:

·       a 16% increase in Fall enrollment (from 5,450 in Fall ’06 to 6,524 in Fall ’11);

·       more than doubling the number of degree and certificate-seeking students (from 1,974 Fall ’07 to 4,089 in Fall ’11)

·       a 45% increase in graduates (from 365 in ’07 to 531 in ’11)

·       an 18% increase in Hispanic graduates (up from 167 in ’07 to 195 in ’11)

·       An increase in Fall-to-Fall retention of full-time degree-seeking students (51% ’06 to ’07; and 58% ’10 to ’11); and

·       Fall-to-Fall retention of full-time degree-seeking Hispanic students rose from 52% in ’06 to ’07 to 66% in ’10 to ’11.

I know that our continued work with Quality New Mexico and the Academic Quality Improvement Program will make an even greater impact on student completion and success in the future.

The fundraising arm of the College, the GROW SFCC Foundation, has been key to this success, and we deeply appreciate their support and the support of all our donors. Over the past six years, the foundation has raised $2,555,123 in cash contributions as well as $1,747,986 of in-kind gifts, for a total of $4,303,109. Over the same time period, SFCC has received $35,102,039 in federal, state, and local grants.  Ours is one of the largest and fastest growing community colleges in the state, and our supporters and the community at large have played a role in the institution’s achievements.  I look forward to watching SFCC continue to thrive in years to come.

With deep gratitude and best wishes for the future,

Dr. Sheila Ortego, President - SFCC

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