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President's Circle funding excellence programs across school

[caption id="attachment_33844" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Rhea Stewart-Laws, Ian Hodges, Teresa Magana"][/caption]

MARIN COUNTY – Teresa Magana is the first person in her entire family to attend college. She is a math major at College of Marin looking to transfer to U.C., Berkeley. She said the experiences and help she has gotten at College of Marin have empowered her in every aspect of her life.

The Educational Excellence Innovation Fund has paid for programs like Math for Success, which was a recipient of the 2010-2011 EEIF awards. Programs such as these help students like Ms. Magana be successful.

“We raise money for innovation and excellence in education that would otherwise be impossible to fund these days,” said Barbara Garfien, coordinator of the President's Circle at College of Marin that helps raise private funds for the school.

The President's Circle is the sole funder of the EEIF.  The board of trustees made a large contribution for a couple of years and four or five projects were able to be funded with that.

“Budget cutbacks made that impossible so we continued on without them,” said Ms. Garfien. “We are building momentum yearly and are looking for more members for the Presidents Circle which, we believe, will increase our visibility.  Everyone who learns about us seems to be able to grasp the importance of supporting excellence in education at COM.  The fund also is a great recruitment and retention tool for faculty and staff.”

[caption id="attachment_33845" align="alignleft" width="288" caption="Dr. David Wain Coon at the President’s Circle breakfast"][/caption]

At the annual President’s Circle Breakfast last week, Dr. David Wain Coon, College of Marin’s new president and superintendent, asked the attendees to continue their generosity and shared the experiences of students who were impacted by the programs the President’s Circle makes possible.

Through a video produced by Susan Giacomini Allan, the audience saw firsthand how important the programs are for current and prospective students.

Ms. Magana, Rhea Stewart-Laws and Ian Hodges were three of the students in the video.

Ms. Stewart-Laws, studying environmental science, hopes to attend Mills College when she completes her coursework at College of Marin. She attributes the on-campus assistance to her success with math, which she said in the video was not her strong suit when she came to the school.

Mr. Hodges, a math major, hopes to transfer to Berkeley. He expressed that he found that learning the tools to solving math problems, and knowing when to use which tools, has helped him in his everyday life when he needs to identify what to use when.

The 2010-2011 EEIF awards went to the Math for Success program and the Student-Athlete Academic Service Program.

Math for Success focused both on helping current college students and help teachers integrate math in early education.

College of Marin has articulation agreements with more than 100 universities including Berkeley, Dominican and schools in the CSU system, allowing students to continue on the path of higher education earning bachelor’s degrees at four-year universities.

The college is in a basic aid district, which means it is funded by property taxes.

“The devaluation of property has not been insignificant in our funding,” said Dr. Coon.

But it means they are not impacted in the same way as other schools by budget cuts, he said. In addition to the funds the EEIF raises for programming, there is bond money for building projects needed to house programs on campus.

In 2004, the voters passed Measure C which allowed for $249 million in funding for building projects on campus. The measure was meant to modernize science labs, classrooms, libraries, provide modern computer technology, upgrade fire safety, campus security, disabled access, energy conservation systems and electrical wiring for computer technology and repair, construct, acquire, equipment, classrooms, labs, sites and facilities.

Projects funded by the bond include upgrades to the Diamond Physical Education Center, the Transportation Technology Complex and the performing arts building and a new main building complex, a new fine arts building and a new science and math building.

Dr. Coon, who started as president in January, has 20 years in higher education. He has been recognized for his leadership locally, regionally and nationally.  He came to Marin following five-years as president of Evergreen Valley College in San Jose.