President Simpson Looks to College's Future in Final Opening Day Address
In a forward-looking address to faculty and staff, Cypress College President Bob Simpson set an energetic tone as he welcomed all back to campus for the spring semester Friday, Jan. 27 on his final Opening Day.
“Rather today than looking in the rearview mirror at what we have achieved,” Dr. Simpson said, “I want to look ahead because there’s so much that’s been happening, so much going on, some very important tasks that are before us.”
The College has a variety of ongoing and upcoming projects to improve its capacity to serve the needs of current and future Cypress students, including the 2017-2020 strategic plan; the College’s first bachelor’s program in funeral sciences; new buildings and renovations through the Measure J construction program; and a thermal energy project.
Buildings in the Measure J project are in various stages of the design phase. Drawings of the new Science, Engineering, and Math building are nearly complete, and the new Veterans Resource Center and Student Activities Center remodel are currently in design-development.
“But we’re excited that we’re going to be breaking ground before too long,” Dr. Simpson added.
The $8.5 million energy project—installation of a thermal storage tank and HVAC chiller on the north side of campus—will provide climate control for those future and current buildings, and aid in the College’s energy efficiency goals.
“All that we will do in the future is dependent upon that energy that will be provided,” Dr. Simpson said.
The College is also preparing for accreditation renewal this year by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Phil Dykstra, the College’s Director of Institutional Research and Planning, and Liana Koeppel, the self evaluation chair, are currently processing feedback to finalize the first draft of the self evaluation report for submission to the District Board of Trustees Feb. 14. There will be a second round of feedback during the spring, with final Board approval in April. The report is due to ACCJC July 15.
In a change from the last round of accreditation, the accrediting team will also conduct a pre-visit to campus sometime this semester, in addition to the usual site visit in the fall on Oct. 9-12.
Another major project underway this semester is the College’s website redesign, headed by Cypress’ Director of Campus Communications Marc Posner, and web content specialist Cari Jorgensen. The current website was designed a decade ago.
The redesign aims to update and modernize the look and feel of the Cypress College website while also improving navigation and user-friendliness. It will be created on WordPress, an easy-to-use content management system expected to facilitate continuity across the website’s many sections and simpler editing by individual users.
Dr. Simpson also recognized a recent honor for the College and expressed his appreciation for the City of Cypress’ support. During the city’s State of the City Luncheon this past January, Mayor Paulo Morales presented Cypress College with an honorary “Key to the City” in recognition of the College’s 50th Anniversary.
“We are so fortunate at the College to have an incredible relationship with the City of Cypress,” Dr. Simpson said.
“One of the reasons we are able to do as much as we are able to do to support our students is because of that extraordinary support that we receive from the community,” he continued, “and at the top of the list of supporters is the City of Cypress. We are so gratified to have that kind of relationship.”
The culmination of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration is a reunion and community festival on April 1 at the pond. Planned by the Cypress College Foundation, the festival will include food trucks and a kid zone, College presentations and displays, discussion panels, a classic car show, and even a duck pond race—a hallowed College tradition returned for one day only.
Opening Day included music by the Mighty Cypress College Art Players, featuring faculty members Gary Gopar, Marcus McMillan, and Terra Schwartzwald. They performed several jazz pieces throughout the program, accompanied by dance routines from Fine Arts students under the direction of Maha Afra.
Though the start of the semester is always a happy occasion, for many this semester was bittersweet with President Simpson’s impending retirement on June 30.
Near the end of the program, Dr. Simpson also picked up a guitar and pleased the crowd with a touching rendition of Neil Young’s ’71 classic, “Old Man,” backed by the Art Players.
“The last ten years have been the most significant and productive of my professional life,” Dr. Simpson said in his closing remarks, “and if I was left at the end with only my time at Cypress College, I would still consider that life to have been full and rich and rewarding.
“I want to thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving the last five years as the president of this amazing place,” he continued. “It has been an extraordinary ride, and I don’t have the words to thank you, but, Chargers, thank you all.”