Merritt College President's Report - September 14, 2021


Merritt College Latest Update

Much has happened at Merritt College in the several weeks that have passed since the last President’s Report. Among other things, Merritt initiated the process of bringing students, classified professional staff members, faculty, and administrators back to campus safely. Merritt worked with our sister colleges and with the Chancellor’s Office to make great progress on the college’s ACCJC Follow-Up Report and the Teach Out Plan. And Merritt continues to support students and the institution in the face of the pandemic by utilizing HEERF funding to address pressing needs.


On August 20, 2021, Merritt College was recognized alongside ESO Ventures at the Capital in the Community press conference held at Liberation Park in East Oakland. The event was hosted by Oakland Councilmember Loren Taylor, and featured a keynote address by California State Senator, the Honorable Nancy Skinner (District 9). Two years ago, Merritt College began a partnership with ESO Ventures, an East Oakland early-stage entrepreneurial fund and incubator that focuses on providing the confidence, competence, and capital for aspiring African American, Latinx, API, and woman entrepreneurs. In addition to investing regional Strong Workforce funds, Merritt’s strategy was to leverage our Digital Marketing Certificate and our partnership with Facebook to hold a "pitch competition" to encourage entrepreneurship and small business development in East Oakland. As a result of our collective efforts and the advocacy of our elected officials and community-based organizations, the state legislature took notice and appropriated $8 million to expand the entrepreneurial opportunities of our underserved community. These funds will be managed and allocated by ESO Ventures and will support 200 new and existing business owners—many of them having been, heretofore, precluded from accessing significant investment capital.

listening sessions

Merritt College Listening Sessions

Two weeks ago, Merritt held the first of a series of planned campus Listening Sessions, with the opening session focused on student experiences with enrollment, registration, and financial aid processes. There were more than fifty individuals who participated, and the students who chose to convey their perspectives were very candid and earnest in what they shared. The Listening Sessions provided greater understanding of the systemic issues our students face, as well as the frustration they feel when seemingly “easy fixes” are not readily forthcoming. The fortitude on the part of our students and our classified professional staff to stay the course until we rectify the issues, is appreciated. Merritt College is committed to improving, significantly, the experience that our students have both within and outside of the classroom. Hopefully, the next session will continue the conversation and take stock of the progress made.


Merritt College Welcome

Merritt welcomes several individuals who are new to the College (or at least new to their roles). On August 16, 2021 Maria Valencia started her position as our new Admissions and Records Clerk, where she will play a pivotal part in guiding our students through the enrollment and matriculation process. We also want to welcome Soledad Leung to her new position (August 2, 2021) as the Student Activities Staff Assistant, and we look forward to her helping to get students re-engaged in campus life in this era of COVID-19. With regard to faculty, Marilyn Varnado is now serving as the Merritt Peer Online Course Review (POCR) Lead. We also have two instructors who will take leading roles as part of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Economic and Workforce Development Grant. Paul Roge is now the Director of Urban Agroecology Marketing and Youth Leadership, and Carrie Maultsby steps in as the Coordinator of Digital Marketing and Youth Leadership. Finally, Merritt College hired three full-time faculty positions for the Fall 2021 term: Stefani de Vito is our new Health Services Coordinator; Lissette Dominguez is our new Child Development Instructor; and Taslima Rehman is our new Mathematics Instructor. Congratulations to all!!!


This article is taken from the President’s Report, written by Dr. David M. Johnson, Merritt College President, that was presented to the PCCD Board of Trustees during their regular meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. A PDF version of the report is available here

Tags: David M. Johnson, Merritt College, Students


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