Campus Center Building

President's Office

17 months and not counting….


From the desk of: Bernadine Chuck Fong

To: Foothill College

Date: March 27, 2023

As of March 31, I would have completed 17 months as your president.  I have been honored to be asked to return, and I have enjoyed every moment of my 516 days, but who’s counting?  However, I would like to reflect with you what can and has been done in 17 months. 

For starters:

  • a toddler begins walking and using active verbs at 17 months
  • it took PG&E 17 months to fix a gas leak in San Bruno, but then they broke a water pipe
  • on average, it takes 17 months to get a marriage-based green card
  • couples date, on average, for 17 months, before moving in together
  • with this writing, you have received 110 all college emails from me in the last 17 months

For Foothill, in 17 months, together we:

  • renewed our Core Values of trust, openness, honesty, transparency, integrity, sustainability, and forgiveness through our Equinmity Retreat in Dec. 2021 – 60 student, staff, faculty and administrator leaders with 10 horses, learning how to work collaboratively and trust one another and produced this word cloudfoothill employees at retreat with a horse
  • reconceptualized and initiated a completely new shared governance process focused on mission-informed planning and decision-making; our Mission-Informed Planning Council (MIP-C) was launched February 22, 2022, and meets every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month.  Subcommittees, both standing and ad hoc include: two ad hoc committees: Guidelines for Resource Allocation, including faculty prioritization and resource reduction; and Revision of the Mission Statement; and standing committees: Technology Committee, the Building and Grounds Committee, and a sustainability sub-committee of the district (to be formed)descriptive words
  • are developing the Guidelines for Resource Allocation or Reduction of human, physical, or financial resources.  Once these guidelines are shared with MIP-C and approved by the President, they will be used by any work group or administrative office for the allocation or re-allocation of resources
  • Restarted our Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment discussions. This will lead to a reexamination of our Institutional Learning Outcomes and outcomes at every level
  • re-established the Campus Abroad program as part of our new Global Experiential Learning initiatives, 40 students are off to Florence in the Spring and another 20+ are already signed up for London in the fall; with the ultimate goal to have scholarships to send African American students to Africa for a study abroad experience; and aligned all of our study abroad programs under one office for better coordination
  • realigned the division structure by returning Kinesiology/Athletics and Fine Arts and Communication to two separate Divisions
  • restarted our early morning Boot Camp
  • restored much needed administrative assistants for the Division offices
  • reinstated our Leadership/New Faculty September Retreat (some of you will remember the Asilomar retreats)
  • reinstated the End of the Year Celebration to honor our retirees
  • reinstated the popular astronomy lecture series for the community which usually fills Smithwick Theater
  • resumed administrative evaluations which had not been done for over a decade
  • established a “No New Net Positions” rule for better budget and personnel control and preparation for any future State funding shortfalls
  • launched the Metaverse Institute (soon to be renamed), involves over 35 faculty members from multiple disciplines and counseling, trained and exploring how to use virtual or augmented reality to provide more comprehensive educational experiences for students; the FH VR User Group Canvas website is
  • launched the Mentor Mindset Institute where 30 faculty and staff fellows are engaged in weekly workshops to develop and implement strategies to foster a growth mindset (“yes, I can do it”) within our students and to create within them a deeper sense of belonging; research has shown that these approaches increase student achievement, for underperforming students, particularly Black and Latinx students
  • launched our “Adopt Foothill” program with the Los Altos Rotary, to encourage Rotary to partner with Foothill in using our facilities for Rotary events, and Rotary members to participate on our advisory committees and fundraising activities, and on major projects like the Rotary-sponsored Veterans Plaza
  • Began regaining both on campus and online enrollment
  • Had our first post-Covid sell out theater crowd for “Into the Woods,” our musical this month
  • Won approval for a baccalaureate program in Respiratory Therapy
  • Launched a dental assisting apprenticeship program
  • Launched a community ed wine program taught by a sommelier
  • Reinstated our home healthcare aide program
  • Restarted our Student Learning Outcomes and Assessmentdiscussions that will lead to reexamination of our Institutional Learning Outcomes
  • Are developing a BIPOC/Dream center, known as the Multicultural Student Center, that will incorporate the work of our Family Engagement Institute. Pauline Brown, our FEI supervisor will move to be supervisor of the center, led by the Faculty Coordinator for which a search is in place.  The center’s programming will be the result of student focus groups from the African American, LGBTQ+, Latinx, Undocumented, and Pacific Islander communities.  This should all be in place by Fall 2023.
  • Hired 11 new full-time faculty in 2022, including an ultimate Jeopardy winner! And we are in the midst of hiring 16 new faculty this year, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, if our offer is accepted!
  • Launched the 13-55 Task Forces through the leadership and work of our Equity Office; the work should be transformational
  • Continued working on our self-study for accreditation (ISER, Institutional Self-Evaluation Report) and remain on course for this major endeavor
  • Continued our work on program review and equity goals with respect to student achievement and outcomes
  • Continued our Research and Service Leadership Symposium (RSLS) and Business Innovation Challenge
  • Hosted our first ever ChatGPT Forum which attracted over 170 participants, thank you to our students in the Psych/Soc 7 Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences class
  • Launched our inaugural class of 23 Foothill students who attended Stanford’s summer session with tuition and parking paid by Stanford
  • Developed closer ties with Stanford University on multiple fronts, including establishing a Speaker Series on the Foothill Campus, launching April 27th with pediatrician, Dr. Robert Ross, CEO of the California Endowment, who will address issues in health equity
  • Continued our work with over 25 partnerships with Stanfordwhere our students are involved in research work with Stanford grad students and professor in fields from psychology and sociology to nanotechnology
  • Lost 36 trees to atmospheric storms
  • Cited multiple coyote families who have since disappeared with the return of more people on campus
  • Received a MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) grant to support our STEM activities for underrepresented students
  • Restarted Diagnostic Medical Sonography program which was on hiatus for the past two years due to the lack of faculty
  • Launched: Community Health Worker program where students can earn $35 an hour after two quarters of training
  • Began Sunnyvale revitalization efforts with HVAC fixes and design of new spaces for Rad Tech and Respiratory Therapy and redesign of EMS programs.   
  • Won the first California Apprenticeship Initiative grant to start apprenticeships in the semi-conductor industry 
  • Launched partnership with Tetra hotel in Sunnyvale to provide ESL classes to housekeeping staff to help in their career advancement
  • Began a major redesign of our website to improve navigation and clarity
  • Initiated conversation in MIP-C about the original logo vs the more ambiguous one
  • Experienced massive growth in dual enrollment which is not only providing opportunities for students in 20 high schools, but is also bringing more students up to Foothill College due to the strong relationship we establish with them in high school
  • Increased presence in local communities with hundreds of high school presentations and tabling at community events
  • Restarted a Buildings and Grounds Committee to provide oversight and preserve the architectural integrity of the campus (shielding the unsightly mechanical on our roof tops, assuring and preserving interior and exterior redwood and natural finish, assure that the landscaping and any redesign preserves the architectural integrity of our award-winning campus
  • Approved, through MIPC, the ASFC initiative to raise the Muwekma Ohlone flag, to accompany our U.S. and California flags.  A flag raising ceremony will likely take place this spring
  • Began discussions and fundraising plans for Magical Bridge Learning Lab and Playground – this is a long-haul project dependent upon fundraising for $6m but does provide space and lab for older adult, disabled, child development, and horticulture programs because Magical Bridge is a fully accessible playground which would be a huge attraction to our community

And WE ARE THE #1 COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN THE COUNTRY! 2023 Best Community Colleges - Niche

            And we have gotten a spike in the number of hits on our homepage!


And to close, I am attaching the first email I sent to all of you when I came on board in November 2021, to highlight how far you have come.


Communiqué #1   November 8, 2021

We are about to embark on a challenging but exciting journey. I want to reassure you that together, we will begin the healing process as well as secure the search for leadership that will expand Foothill College to its rightful place as an inclusive, collaborative, and distinctive institution.

I begin by referring to the Core Values we established during my tenure as President, my first time, and expanded by my successor, Judy Miner. Those were not idle words and are meant to support the foundation of a fully functioning and healthy organization.  At the Town Hall, I said that that is what is primary for now, and I asked you to review them; they are on our website.  The first five were mine: honesty, integrity, trust, openness, and forgiveness and Judy added the last two: transparency and sustainability.

And how did the initial values come about? When I was in the Open Forum as a candidate for my original presidential position, clearly everyone already knew my history at the college and what I did or did not accomplish. I decided that the college, which was then recovering from the district’s worst financial crisis, needed to learn more about me as a person and my own core values. One of the most important ones was Trust. Given the financial crisis was self-inflicted, why would the colleges trust their administrators? I knew then the core values of an institution need to be mirrored in its leaders, day to day. Foothill, at that time, had not put to paper specific values, so when I became president, I professed those that I live by: Honesty, Integrity, Trust, Openness, and Forgiveness. I added the last one because it was incredibly important for people to forgive so we could get past the remnants of the district’s financial crisis. I would say that we have the same need for forgiveness at this time, as well.  Also, if one acts with integrity, openness, and honesty, that should earn trust and the opportunity for forgiveness, if warranted. These core values were printed on the back of every business card so we could remind each other what we should strive for each day.  Equity is not missing because it is implicit in “integrity” and the concept behind equity has had different names in different generations, starting with multiculturalism, diversity, and currently, equity.

To this end, I invite you to join me and fully engage and renew commitment to the values of our college and what they mean to you personally, as well as professionally.  Why this is important, is because values are the basis for people working together, respecting one another, and moving together.  I also ask those of you who were here during my previous tenure to help me foster these values and share how they have helped us move forward then and how they can now.

It is with both hope and anticipation that I look forward to Foothill’s continuation as an academic leader known for its vision and innovation and because of the strength of the faculty, the staff, and the students.  I had three goals, and they were the same every year of my presidency. They were: 1) instill and maintain trust; 2) energize and stimulate creativity and innovation; and 3) “keep the pot stirred” to produce sufficient positive tension or energy to promote change. Team building was heavily emphasized because we all had to work together as a team to be effective in carrying out Foothill's mission.

When I became president in 1994, my son said I had enough energy to light up a small village – so beware, I haven’t changed!

What I have learned these past 17 months, is that the Foothill community is a resilient one, despite the trauma that brought me here. I also learned that people were eager, if not anxious, to address the many challenges before us, such as preparation for us for re-accreditation, revising and updating our Educational Master Plan (which I think we should rename the Educational Equity Master Plan, and incorporate the Strategic Equity Plan into the master plan, as opposed to having become a stand along document). I have learned that, despite the added disruptions due to Covid, that people continued to perform their important work for the benefit of our students. How do we truly internalize our motto “educational opportunity for all” which is on the college’s seal, created in 1957? At this point in time, “opportunity” is not just about “access” or even “success: but by Merriam-Webster’s definition: “Opportunity” is “a favorable combination of circumstances, time, and place.” So, for us, how do we assure our students have a “favorable combination of circumstances, time, and place” for the education they seek from us?

And now, we are ready for new leadership and a new chapter in Foothill’s rich and resilient history!

Congratulations, Kris!

And thank you to each of you for your dedication, thoughtfulness, and commitment to Foothill!


Best regards,

Bernadine Chuck Fong, Ph.D.
Interim President, Foothill College
Senior Scholar and Director of Leadership Initatves, Stanford University

Governance at Foothill

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Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong, Interim President


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