South Plains College has two new veterans who are heading up the Veterans Affairs Office at the Levelland and Reese Center campuses.
Kristi Simpson is the new Veterans Affairs Benefits and finical aid assistant advisor at the Reese Center campus in Lubbock. Her office is located inside Building 8 in room 804.
“My favorite part of this job is just being able to sit down and talk to these vets who have some awesome stories,” explains Simpson.
Simpson served in the United States Air Force for 10 years. She traveled as far as Kurdistan in Iraq, while being deployed. During the last five years she spent in the Air Force, Simpson worked for the Pentagon in Washington, DC. She has been out of the service for five years now.
“I feel like because I am a vet myself I can relate to these people more and help them out,” said Simpson.
Simpson says that her typical day in the office starts off by checking email and answering phone calls. Then she works throughout the day helping veterans fill out paper work on VA benefits, along with as financial aid forms such as the FAFSA.
Before coming to work for SPC, Simpson worked at the Hockley County Sheriff’s office, where she did administrative work, paper work and oversaw all the records. Simpson is from Levelland, and she loves being able to work for a college that is centered around her hometown.
Outside of work, Simpson enjoys horses and being outside. She descried herself as “outgoing.” She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 18 years. They have two children, one is 14 and the other 11. Simpson says her whole family enjoys riding and raising horses together.
Tim Miller is the new Veterans Affairs Benefits and finical aid assistant advisor at the Levelland Campus. His office is located in the Finical Aid Office in the Student Services Building.
Miller said his favorite part of the job is getting to talk about the ‘good old days’ with different veterans with different experiences.
Miller joined the United State Marine Corps out of high school, and he served for 10 years. While in the Marines, he spent three months in Romania. His time in the Marine Corps involved him handling legal cases, which he says, “has giving me an insight on how to handle day to day situations, which a lot of people do not have.”
Miller is a Levelland native but moved and graduated from Whiteface High School in 2005. After returning home, Miller used his veteran education benefits and attended SPC. Miller graduated with a degree last fall from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history. Miller says he wishes to continue his education in some way that relates to education.
Miller has a 5-year-old son who plays baseball in New Orleans. Before working at SPC, he was a substitute teacher at Seagraves ISD, where his wife is currently teaching. In Miller’s free time, he likes to study the Constitution and follow politics. He enjoys having a full understanding of what is going on around us.
There are many times when college, depression, disabilities, or just life in general, can bog down the wonderful experience that the gift of living grants.
Sometimes there are easy solutions. Sometimes there are solutions unseen, and the Health and Wellness Center can help with those problems.
The newly-created Health and Wellness Center is now located across the campus to a section that is now north of the library building.
Dr. Lynne Cleavinger, the director of health and wellness, and her staff are excited about the move.
“I love it!” Dr. Cleavinger said. “The new location helps with privacy and serves as a more comfortable space for students.”
Dr. Cleavinger emphasizes that the new location has added privacy for the students. Guidance and Counseling was together in the Student Services Building. The idea was that testing and advising would be separate from the personal counseling, disability help, and other issues that are related to mental health.
“So if a student came in to see a counselor, those health records are kept separate from those academic records,” Dr. Cleavinger explained.
The center is open during the fall and spring semesters on Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The center offers a free health clinic, personal counseling, and disability services. The health clinic, located only on the Levelland campus, is available to all South Plains students enrolled in six or more credit hours on the Levelland campus. A nurse will be available throughout the day, but for a student to see a doctor, an assessment with the nurse must be completed by 10:30 a.m.
Personal counseling is more than mental or behavioral issues. College adjustment issues such as homesickness, college life, managing stress, and even relationship problems, are all issues that the center is ready to help with.
“We have licensed mental health professionals who are on staff,” Dr. Cleavinger said.
“They help with test anxiety, relationship issues, depression, or anything that the student needs help with.”
The disability services are a major part of the Health and Wellness Center. Enrolled students with disabilities who wish to receive accommodations must contact the Disability Services Office and fill out an application before accommodations can be made.
Any student with a documented disability that is within the parameters of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is granted academic accommodations.
Linda Young serves as the Disability Accommodation Specialist on the Levelland campus.
“A disability is more than just physical,” Young said. “A disability could be a learning disability, psychiatric, or medical.”
Actions such as omitting questions on a test or exam are not allowed. But some accommodations that could be made include help with writing down an answer, extended time on exams and tests, or help with note taking.
“A student may comprehend and have the learning capacity, but it may take longer for the student to write it down or process the information,” Young said. “The student is still expected to know the material, but may need assistance or extra time to get the answer on paper.”
The staff at the Health and Wellness Center are proud to help anybody who walks through the doors needing help or someone to talk with. Everything in the office is completely confidential.
Fall enrollment, dual credit courses and a construction update were among the main topics discussed during the September meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.
Fall enrollment for the Levelland college district has increased since fall 2014, according to Cathy Mitchell, vice president for student affairs. Some campuses have experienced an increase, but several have seen a decline. Off-campus students, including dual credit and anyone not attending classes on campus, have experienced the largest decrease, putting the overall percentage at -3.2 percent.
“Most of that (off-campus student decline) had to do with dual credit and some of the changes that have been made with some of our schools and their dual credit,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said they are working on ways to recover some of that loss for the upcoming semester.
Mitchell also discussed the safety and security audit that happens once every three years. The last time this audit was conducted was in 2012. Since then, the concerns that were brought up have been addressed. This includes: all dorms holding a fire drill, with assistance from the Levelland Fire Department, every semester; communication between SPC emergency personnel and Levelland, Lubbock, and Plainview emergency departments has increased, along with campus maps, floor plans, and contact for key personnel have been provided to the respective community departments; defibrillators have been purchased and installed in most SPC buildings; residence hall staff, faculty, and staff have been trained in first aid, CPR and AED; and spiral notebooks with emergency procedures have been distributed at all SPC locations.
“We’re feeling pretty good about the audit,” said Mitchell. “There’s always room for improvement, and this is a constant ongoing review.”
Mitchell also presented additional items that are in the process of being updated or implemented, including a data governance and security policy that is in the final stages of development, access to electronic data is currently being reviewed and revised, and the table top emergency exercises that are planned for the upcoming year.
Dr. Robin Satterwhite, vice president of academic affairs, presented information on academic programs at SPC and their pass rates. SPC’s Police Academy graduated two classes, one in July and another in August. During the past eight years, the academy has had a 100-percent pass rate for first-time students.
“I think that’s really a testament of the quality of education we’re providing,” said Dr. Satterwhite.
The Fire Academy has had a total of 305 students during the past 13 years, with a 99.7 percent pass rate their first time.
“When you look at outcomes assessment,” said Dr. Satterwhite, “that is one of the primary measures when you look and see how our students perform on those external certification exams.”
Dr. Satterwhite also reported on the loss of dual-credit students. He said one of the primary things SPC is facing is the competition with universities for the larger high schools in this area. But he also said we have started to get some of those students back.
“I think where we can compete is in our service,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We have, I believe, the best instruction. We have the best situation for those high school students who are moving up, and those doors have been opened up.”
According to Dr. Satterwhite, the differentiating factors are where students are going after they leave SPC. First, he said the cost of attendance is a big difference. On average, compared to universities, SPC students save $27,000 in two years.
“Those aren’t our numbers,” explained Dr. Satterwhite. “Those are the Department of Education’s numbers.”
The other is the service that SPC offers their students as a whole. According to Dr. Satterwhite, other universities are looking for the kind of students SPC has.
Steven John, vice president for institutional advancement, presented the institutional effectiveness performance report for 2013 and 2014. In the performance report, there are six critical success factors, explained John. They are dynamic education programs and quality instruction, educational program outcomes, quality student and support services, economic development and community involvement, effective leadership and management, and collaborative organizational climate.
“We maintain this comprehensive evaluation system that measures the extent to which we accomplish the institutional goals and objectives,” said John.
According to John, students participate in a satisfaction and instruction survey every fall semester. For the years 2013 and 2014, the surveys reflected students giving high ratings for their instructors. These findings are recorded in the report, and it shows that so far all of the previous standards have been met.
Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of SPC, then reported updates from the construction site of the new Lubbock Center.
“I think that (the Lubbock Center) is going to be the next project to make a big impact,” said Dr. Sharp. “It’s going to impact everything we talked about today.”
According to Dr. Sharp, the first thing they did on the building was change all of the locks to the same system at all SPC campuses. The next thing that was done was an asbestos survey. There were only two walls in the southeast corner of the building that tested positive for asbestos and will be removed before continuing with the demolition plan.
“The building is going to be really nice,” Dr. Sharp said. “There is a lot of interior work to be done.”
Dr. Sharp said it’s just a matter of getting in there and finding where all of the structural components are, and then creating a floor plan based on that structure. He also said the Lubbock Center is going to offer opportunities to students who have transportation issues or any challenges like that.
(Editor’s note: This is the first part of a multi-part series “Stolen Innocence” about children who have been victimized by abuse that begins in Issue #1 and will continue through Issue #6. Several staff took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.)
It is a small word, packed with enough meaning to make your heart drop into your stomach.
According to Prevent Child Abuse Texas (PCAT), approximately 700 children are reported (for alleged child abuse or neglect) each day in the state of Texas.
Child abuse is something that has been around for ages. It has happened behind closed doors, for some, as long as anyone can remember. But there is not just one simple way to describe it. It could be verbal, physical, emotional, mental and rape. There are organizations across the country to help children who are experiencing the trauma abuse causes, including Prevent Child Abuse Texas.
As with many other public health issues, there is a disconnect between the magnitude and severity of the problem and the response in dealing with it, according to PCAT.
According to PCAT, a child dies from abuse in Texas every 38 hours. It is also as common as children with asthma, 300 times more likely than getting meningitis and 6,000 times more likely than a child dying from influenza.
According to PCAT, this exists because child abuse is complex, requiring a complex solution, and the “disease” of child abuse comes on slowly, requiring a long-term solution. It impacts many lives, but is also often perceived to happen to “someone else.”
For many children who have been victimized, there are extensive medical and mental health problems that they have to face. According to PCAT, children who are victims of abuse do more poorly in school than other students, are more likely to become violent as teens and adults, and die at a younger age. Child abuse is a serious problem that affects the child and their families in a very complex and deep way. There are hundreds of children who have had to face abuse and are dealing with the physical and psychological aftermath.
According to PCAT, child abuse continues to put a burden on the individual, the family, the community and the state long after the abuse has occurred.
Mike Sawicki, a personal injury attorney and president of Sawicki Law in Dallas, represents individuals and families who have been victims of workplace injuries, personal injuries and sexual assault.
“I have a varied practice,” said Sawicki. “I started off my career handling aircraft crash cases, helicopters, jetliners, things like that. I still do that work from time to time. Then I’ve handled a wide variety of injury cases, some involving 18-wheeler truck wrecks, to medical malpractice claims.”
According to Sawicki, he handled his first sexual assault case when two women came to him after they had been raped in a hospital setting. He began writing about those issues after the case was over.
“Without ever really intending to, I just kept getting calls from people who had either been sexually assaulted or raped,” said Sawicki. “So, that’s become a subspecialty, if you will.”
Families with small children all the way up to elderly people come to Sawicki for representation in their cases. But one case he handled a year ago has stuck with him.
“The most recent is always the most emotional, just because you’re going through it with the client,” Sawicki said. “One that really stuck in me was a case involving a number of boys that were sexually assaulted by a summer camp counselor at a camp outside of Kerrville, Texas.”
Sawicki represented about six boys, but there was probably a total of around 10 boys between the ages of 5 and 6, who were abused. They were assaulted by an Australian man who was hired for the counseling job by a company in Connecticut. Sawicki travelled across the country to Connecticut, as well as across the world to Australia, while he worked on this case. He said this case stuck with him because he had his own son at home who was the same age as the boys he was representing, and as his clients were growing up, so was his son.
“I could see their faces every time I looked at my son and think what a horrible impact it would have had, how I would have felt,” recalls Sawicki, “because my little guy was basically the same age they were at the time I was going through it.”
Although this case has stuck with Sawicki a few years, he says the most emotional cases are those that are the most recent. They are fresh on his and the client’s minds as they are going through them together. Sawicki said that right now he is representing a preteen who was sexually assaulted by her teacher.
“They (abuse cases) can be very difficult to handle, because they become emotional, because you become involved with (them),” said Sawicki. “You unfortunately get to see the effect of being raped or sexually assaulted right up close.”
According to Sawicki, there are some simple steps to be taken that could help lower the number of child victims being assaulted.
“A lot of times, it’s just doing the basic common sense things, like checking references, requiring references and in this day and age with Google and other search engines readily available, making an effort to check for potential employees backgrounds on those types of things,” said Sawicki.
He also said that it is amazing what they can find on the Internet, and use in his cases, just by putting an individual’s name in a search engine that was ignored earlier.
Sawicki said that one of the hardest parts of representing victimized children is remembering to stop and take care of them through the case, instead of just being their lawyer. He said that he has had people who are afraid to go outside or terrified of strangers to the point that it is debilitating.
“There’s an old joke about attorney and counselor,” said Sawicki. “I spend a lot of time doing the counseling part, even though I’m not a psychiatrist. It just comes with the job.”
Sawicki said that he gets calls from the victims or their families about things he cannot do anything about, but they are concerning enough that they just need a voice to listen to. He said that there are many consequences that follow being sexually assaulted, including anger issues, depression and substance abuse. The effects of the abuse are long lasting in the individuals, says Sawicki.
Students attend college and never imagine coming back and being part of the administration.
But one former South Plains College student recently got the opportunity to return to the Levelland campus.
Dr. Robin Satterwhite, former academic dean for the School of Allied Health Sciences at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, has joined the administration as vice president of academic affairs.
Originally from Ropesville, Dr. Satterwhite attended SPC after graduating from high school and received his Associate of Science Degree from SPC in 1990. Later, he transferred to Texas Tech University, where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in management information systems in 1992. He then completed his Master of Business Administration Degree in management in health organization management in May 1997. He also received a doctor of education degree in higher education administration in 2004.
“My first move was from Ropesville to the Magee dorms back in 1988,” says Dr. Satterwhite. “When I finished at SPC, I went to Texas Tech and I was not actually majoring in higher education. I actually got my bachelor’s in information technology, and after that, I started working in a hospital setting.”
Before majoring in higher education, Dr. Satterwhite worked in the hospital systems in Lockney and Mexia.
“I was the hospital CEO in Lockney, and then also in Mexia, and from there is when I went into higher education,” explains Dr. Satterwhite. “I moved back to Odessa, where I was orgingally the dean for the school of Allied Health Sciences, and eventually moved to Lubbock.”
While working in the hospital systems, Dr. Satterwhite also majored in business administration.
“I majored in business administration in information systems because, like most students, I looked at my strengths, and I was in business at SPC,” says Dr. Satterwhite. “I was vacillating between finance and information systems, and I really saw that information systems was my strength, and that’s where I went.”
Dr. Satterwhite continues, “Sometimes, when you’re 20 years old, you don’t really know exactly what direction you want to take, but I did like business, and I just followed what my strengths were.”
Dr. Satterwhite says he had always been interested in higher education because he came from a family of educators.
“My dad was a superintendent of schools, and my mother was an English teacher,” Dr. Satterwhite explains. “I always had a passion and interest in education. But I knew I didn’t want to be at the high school level of education. So, when I was in hospital administration and in health care management, I had an interest in education. Being from a health care background, I was able to move to a health care education setting, so that worked perfect for me. When I got in that setting, I immediately realized that I needed to get my doctorate. So that’s when I started pursuing my doctorate.”
Named a Distinguished Alumnus of the college in 2013, Dr. Satterwhite explains he never thought he would be vice president for academic affairs after graduating from SPC. He says he never thought he would come back to SPC until he started working toward his master’s degree.
“I’ve always watched SPC from the periphery, and I loved it when I was a student here,” says Dr. Satterwhite. “I think it has such an incredibly important and successful mission of educating students, either technically or having that preparation for that next step in a University setting. It isjust something near and dear to my heart, and it’s something that I felt that had a clear and successful mission. So when the job opened up, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to apply.”
Even though Dr. Satterwhite experienced two different career paths, he expresses those two career paths have similarities.
“I’ve have had two different career paths throughout my lifetime,” explains Dr. Satterwhite “and it’s interesting because you have the management, finance, and the information systems, and then you have the higher education. When you think about them, they seem very different, but there are a lot of similarities and they complement each other very well.”
Dr. Satterwhite has been involved in higher education for almost 17 years. He describes his time attending SPC as enjoyable and memorable.
“I’m glad I’m here, because the faculty and staff teach students, and they do it very well,” explains Dr Satterwhite. “The faculty and student relationship always attracted me. When I look back at all the different degrees I worked on, I have very few faculty that I really remember or worked close with. But when I look at South Plains, I can readily name you a number of faculty that I’ve admired and who really took a interest in my success and my learning. I think what’s unique and exciting about South Plains College is the student and faculty relationship.”
Dr. Robin Satterwhite settles into his office on Sept. 1.
South Plains College recently announced plans for a new educational center to expand their course offerings in Lubbock.
The college’s Board of Regents approved the purchase of a 70,000 square foot building for $2 million.
“The building was an old car dealership,” explains Dr. Kelvin Sharp, president of SPC in an interview with the Plainsman Press. “They had built a building on the south Loop, and they were moving out of this location. Their particular interest was for us to expand our certifications for auto technicians. We currently teach our students how to become a certified technician. But if you’re going to work on a Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge, you have to be industry-certified, and that’s another level of training.”
Dr. Sharp continues, “We initially started this discussion with Group One, who owned the building. We could use it and expand to give them employees that they need, and in lieu of us being to be able to do that, they discounted the building to get into it. The building itself is valued at $3.9 million.”
The total cost of the building, which is located at 3907 Avenue Q, is going to be $12 million, which will make it a state-of-the-art center and will cover the cost of repairing the structure.
Dr. Sharp says four partners so far have been involved with purchasing the building.
“Group One Auto, who helped us with the building and the property,” says Dr. Sharp. “We had the Helen Jones Foundation, which pledged $4 million for the renovation, and the CH Foundation, which pledged $3 million toward the renovation. We also had the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA), which pledged $2.9 million, and theirs is for program expansion, program development, furnishings, and equipment. We think the $7 million will renovate the building, but we know when we go in there we’re going to need furniture and computers. They said use their money to equip it.”
SPC’s initial plan is to move the faculty and students from the Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center, which is owned by the Lubbock School District, to what will be called the South Plains College Lubbock Center.
“The programs we have at the Byron Martin Technology Center are in 36,000 square feet, and the South Plains College Lubbock Center is 70,000 square feet,” Dr. Sharp explains. “Our initial plan is to take the programs we have at the BMATC and go over into this building and modify about 4,500 square feet, and give them a little more and put them in the building.”
Dr. Sharp explains that SPC cannot expand its technology offerings at the BMATC because of the limited space, and can’t start up new programs.
The programs that are going to be transferred to future Lubbock Center from the BMATC are Accounting Associate, Business, Computer Information Systems, Office Technology, Paralegal Studies, Real Estate, Automotive Technology, Industrial Manufacturing Emerging Technologies, Basic Fire Academy, Advanced Fire Technology, and Associate of Applied Science in Fire Technology.
SPC is working on the building immediately, including roof repair, changing locks on the building, and asbestos abatement. Dr. Sharp says they will be working on the building for the next 14 to 16 months, with plans to have the ribbon cutting ceremony in early 2017.
“I think it’s a game changer for our students and the Lubbock community to have SPC, and to have some flexible space to do some things in,” explains Dr. Sharp. “We can help people get a certification and get certain training to help them be a better employee. I really think it’s going to be a great asset. We have nice Levelland, Reese, and Plainview campuses, so I believe [the South Plains College Lubbock Center] will compliment all of them and end up being somewhat of a hub in terms of having students get to us and work their way through our system.”
Dr. Sharp explains the center will be great for students who live in Lubbock, but don’t have transportation to get to the Reese Center campus or the Levelland campus.
“This gives [SPC] a nice, big footprint in Lubbock,” Dr. Sharp explains. “This gives students a chance to access us and give them an opportunity to be part of our programs. Because most of the time, once they get involved, they like the faculty and staff so well they don’t want to leave. If we can get them through the front door, then we can get them finished up. I’m really excited for this opportunity to be in Lubbock with our own building. It’s been crowded in the Byron Martin Center for a while.”
South Plains College’s new educational center is located on Avenue Q in Lubbock. GABRIELLA GAMBOA/PLAINSMAN PRESS