FARMINGTON — San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass on Friday detailed the college's efforts to increase student retention and reduce the number of remedial classes students need as they start college.
Pendergrass spoke about the measures in a presentation to the state Legislative Finance Committee.
The president, along with other members of the college's administration, presented to the committee on Friday morning as it wrapped up its third and final day of meetings in the Zia Conference Center at the college's Health and Human Performance Center.
After the meeting, Pendergrass said she thought it was positive, and the college appreciated the legislators' support.
"I wanted to get across to them that we take performance funding very seriously and the incentives they try to provide," Pendergrass said. "We're doing everything we can to support our students to graduate."
During the presentation, Pendergrass talked about strategies the college has employed, including focusing on student success and completion, community partnerships and economic development.
In the student success portion of her presentation, Pendergrass highlighted efforts the college has made in improving its English and math curriculum. About 87 percent of first-time, degree-seeking students are placed into at least one developmental or remedial course, she said.
The college has also redesigned reading, English and math courses, prerequisites and development courses to be paired with college-level courses.
Pendergrass also spoke about the Four Corners College Readiness Conference and the college's work with San Juan County public schools to better prepare students for college-level courses. After the two-day meeting in April, Pendergrass said the next step in the partnerships with area schools is to formalize a partnership to help the schools increase career and college readiness and decrease the number of students taking developmental courses.
Legislators asked Pendergrass and Dean of the School of Energy Randy Pacheco several questions, including how the college is helping the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other government agencies identify and process mineral rights for areas south of Farmington, which include parts of the Navajo Nation and Bureau of Land Management property.
Pacheco said the School of Energy and the School of Business provide students to the agencies as part of an internship program. That, he said, helps with office work and frees up BIA staff to process applications for mineral leases.
Rep. Paul Bandy, R-San Juan County, asked if the college has had issues with marijuana after Colorado legalized the recreational use of the drug.
Pendergrass said she has had discussions with members of Four Corners Economic Development about the issue. But, she said, the college has not had any issues with crime, and drug use is prohibited on campus.