Education

Santa Rosa College bond measure passes with help from Brandman student

December 17, 2014 by Cindy O'Dell

SanaRosaJuniorCollegeSanta Rosa College IT Director Scott Conrad had a problem.

Money from a 2002 bond measure used to fund computers, software and network infrastructure was gone. A proposal put before the community college’s board of trustees in 2012 never made it past the trustees. But the growing college that serves 26,000 students in five locations needed a way to fund technology and other infrastructure for the nest 20-30 years.

So Conrad, an Ed.D. candidate at Brandman, drew on the skills gained at the university to help craft a strategic plan under the leadership of the college president. In the process he realized he had found the perfect candidate for his own Transformational Change Project, a requirement for his Ed.D.

“Using the TCP process, I learned ways to get people involved and learned how to get them to see the need and make it their initiative and not just mine,” said Conrad.

The strategy worked. In November, the voters in the Santa Rosa Community College District approved a $410 million bond proposal, $80 million of which is dedicated to technology funding.

“Building a better case, we not only got it past the board but also the voters,” said Conrad.

Conrad credits the Brandman faculty and the way the courses were designed for being able to tap into many different resources. That helped him look at different ways of solving the problem by focusing on not just the financial issues, but also the political issues involved in getting a bond passed.

“Using the tools I learned in the classroom helped me define different kinds of stakeholders and then use communication in a way that was most effective for each stakeholder,” said Conrad.

He said most of the people who vote in a bond election tend to be older, retired and white while the student population is under 30 and more likely Hispanic.  The group working on the bond measure shaped its appeal to the voters by telling them that 90 percent of the area’s safety and health personnel (firemen, police officers, nurses) get training at the college.

“And you want them to have the best knowledge and know how to use the latest equipment,” said Conrad. “We also stressed that a skilled and educated workforce helps keep home values up.”

They also targeted the large number of alumni still in Santa Rosa and Petaluma where the main campuses are and urged them to lobby for support based on their own experiences. They leveraged the college’s athletes and had them compete against each other when it came to making phone calls.

“They literally made tens of thousands of calls,” said Conrad.

Finally Conrad and other staff members, including the college president, looked at the various organizations they belong to and gave speeches asking for support.

Conrad has finished his coursework for earning a doctorate in organizational leadership and plans to defend his dissertation by the end of February and graduate in May. Originally an engineer in the private sector with HP and various startups, Conrad chose to get his Ed.D. so that he could better understand the education system and advance his career.

“My goal is to be president of a community college in California. I think what they do is incredible,” he said.

“This is the only way for a working professional to go,” he said of Brandman’s program which features both online and face-to-face meetings.

“Having cohorts who are working professionals, you get a really rich group of peers to learn from as you go. You learn as much from your peers as from the professors,” he said.

Seven insights
Dr. Marilou Ryder, associate professor of education, listed seven insights named by Scott Conrad in his Transformational Change Project :

  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • Don’t assume the end will be as you imagined.
  • Take care of yourself and those you care about first.
  • Be open to new relationships.
  • Help others when you can.
  • Be humble and appreciate each step of the journey.
  • Plan your next adventure.

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