President Kinnamon highlights COD’s achievements during virtual state of the college

Photo+courtesy+of+The+Chaparral.+Dr.+Kinnamon+delivering+the+virtual+state+of+the+college+address+on+March+17.

Photo courtesy of The Chaparral. Dr. Kinnamon delivering the virtual state of the college address on March 17.

College of the Desert hosted a virtual state of the college event, March 17 at 11 a.m. In this event, Superintendant/President Joel L. Kinnamon talked about what the college has gone through during the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges the college has faced and what they did to overcome them.

Looking Back

Kinnamon started by saying, “At College of the Desert, we strive to remove barriers and to overcome obstacles to make sure everyone has access to the quality education necessary to create tomorrow.” He takes a look back on how one year ago today, the College of the Desert had to shut down all activities and in-person learning due to COVID-19.

“Despite the dawning task before us,” said Kinnamon, “there was no question the entire College of the Desert community would need to rise to the challenge.” The goal was to minimize distribution for students and provide uninterrupted instruction as well.

Moving classes and labs to online was a challenge, but COD could do this transition smoothly, just like he said they would. COD wanted to make sure everyone had the right tools to transition by a rapid distribution of technology to students and faculty, including Chromebooks, laptops and hotspots.

To further help students, COD launched an app for smartphones called College of the Desert mobile, which keeps users informed with campus updates and connected with services needed.

During the spring semester, 1,700 students received grants of $864 each, and during the summer semester, 1,200 additional grants of $417 were distributed. COD also helped those who were currently unemployed by giving unemployed or under-employed students grants to remain in school.

In less than three weeks, COD made the full transition to online learning. These efforts were praised as one of the best community college pandemic responses in the state.

Achievements

Although the school has shut down, the clubs remain open through Zoom. Clubs such as the Black Students Success Center, which opened virtually in March 2020. What started as A2mend has transformed into the now known Black Students Success Center. “This center helps students cope with microaggressions to events celebrating Black culture,” said Kinnamon.

Dreamer Resource Center has “more than 900 undocumented students at College of the Desert now have a dedicated support system to help achieve academic success and better their lives.” Kinnamon said.

Foster Youth Center helps encourage the students in the program to succeed in school and life. The LGBTQ pride scholarship funds are also there to help students who did not get the support they needed at home. “To help these students create tomorrow and remain on a path towards success,” Kinnamon said. “the CV Pride Scholarship Fund helps these students cover tuition and living expenses.”

Kinnamon talked about the most noticeable achievement the college has made. The international fountain of knowledge, dedicated to Dr. Ronaldo Calion, stands in the center of the college fully restored. Kinnamon said, “It stands as a monument to his mission to encourage all people to better their lives through education.”

Another monument that stands tall is the newly renovated Hilb Center as the campus library.  This is one of the oldest buildings on campus, but the building has been transformed into a modern marvel for COD students because of the immense renovation and modernization project.

Looking Forward

Kinnamon introduced Jeff Baker, the current vice president of Student Services, as his interim replacement. Baker talked about the future of the college. He said, “We will adapt to the changing needs of our students by seeking opportunities to offer online learning and developing hybrid classes that consist of both online instruction and in-person experiences on campus.” Baker will be taking over when Kinnamon retires March 31. A search for someone to permanently fill the position is ongoing.

Baker said that even if in-person learning starts soon, online classes will continue to be part of the curriculum. “Online classes benefit students by reaching them where they work and live. They also provide flexibility, allowing students to work on their studies at times convenient to them,” said Baker.

The school is working on plans to hopefully open school soon. Baker talks about maybe getting more automatic doors and touchless water fountains to help avoid contact. However, while students are off-campus, they are working on renovating existing spaces and build new faculties.

Kinnamon ended the virtual event by saying, “I am most proud of the way we have changed our students’ lives.” To watch the full conference click the video above story.