President's Monthly Reports
“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
- Albert Schweitzer
The past 30 days have been filled with both progress and challenge…..
At the most personal level, I want to acknowledge that Board members, staff, faculty, and students have experienced both challenges and real emergencies, both personally and among their families and friends, and our shared responses to these events have reminded me that we are not just an institution but a community of people for whom we care. Of all our assets (and we at LBCC have many), our greatest is our people. This is not just ‘sloganism’, but a reflection and expression of our values, and I wish and pray for true recovery and healing and strength for all of us who have experienced these challenges over the past month.
And at the college level, we too have had our challenges……
Senate Bill 322 threatens to eliminate our very successful “5th Year Program” partnerships with area school districts, potentially affecting over 500 students who currently take advantage of this program at LBCC. Fortunately, we have strong local legislative support and even stronger local community support so, perhaps, we can make a case of continuation of this program when we give testimony at the upcoming legislative hearings which are tentatively scheduled for March 19th.
Then, an interesting combination of a “too loose” policy regarding dual credit and “too tight” proposed legislation regarding accelerated learning threaten to undermine our ability to provide a cohesive pathway between high school and community college that actually improves student success. Here again, we have the benefit of strong local supporters and educational partners that I hope will able to help us as we work with OCCA and other community colleges to identify and strengthen educational pathways that work for our students.
And, as we face the high probability that the individual/personal “kicker” will be triggered by State tax receipts that exceed the current Biennium’s budgeted amount by more than 2%, the resources available for the 2015-17 Biennium Budget may be less than we earlier assumed. Many legislative leaders still believe that they can deliver a Community College Support Fund (CCSF) of $535 million – the amount assumed in our current LBCC Budget Models – but the possibility of providing us with the additional resources necessary for us to rebuild critical education capacity, improve on student success, and hold down tuition is now less likely.
But we’re not giving up, and I want to thank Board members Keith Frome, Shelly Garrett, Jim Merryman and Ron Mason, and Government Relations Director John McArdle for their participation in this year’s OCCA Legislative Summit on February 25th and 26th, putting our community college community leaders in direct communication with our area legislators and sharing the message of all we do – and all we can do – with solid State support. We are fortunate to have such leadership!
Finally, I want to share something about just a few areas in which we are making great progress…..
On February 17th through the 20th, a group of eight of us (Pam Gordon, Jason Kovac, Kathy Chafin, Justin Smith, Katie Winder, Justene Malosh, Bruce Clemetson, and myself), participated in the “Dream Conference” in Baltimore MD, where we again gathered with the 300+ community colleges nationwide who are collaborating around increasing student completion as part of Achieving the Dream. Justin Smith and Justene Malosh made a presentation, we attended presentations made by other participating colleges, and we met with our AtD coaches and, in it all, we felt confident in the direction we are heading and encouraged by the progress we have already made.
With the Bonds sold and the “money in the bank,” we are now moving full steam ahead in the designs for all four of our projects. Just last week I had a 30,000 foot meeting to look at over-all project scope and funding and we look to be in good shape. In addition, we are now working to incorporate the addition of these new and repurposed facilities into our Budget projections so we have the operational resources there when each of these projects comes “on line.”
With the unfortunate and somewhat inaccurate Eugene newspaper article on Lane Community College’s Accreditation Report still fresh on our minds, we have done a quick review of our own efforts to address Educational Outcomes and Assessment and find that we are making good progress toward meeting this criterion of our own upcoming 7-year Accreditation Report. There is much work left for us to do here but, with the great leadership by faculty members like James Reddan and Dana Emerson, I am confident that we will be ready.
And finally, as I begin to prepare for my SHORT talk at the upcoming LBCC Spring In-Service on April 16th, I am again reflecting on the great collaborative efforts that exist all across the LBCC campus, living as intentional reflections of our Values in pursuit of our Mission and Goals: More success for more students, making a real, tangible, positive difference in the lives they lead and the communities they are a part of after leaving us. It is in this embodiment that our Goal of Equity and our Value of Inclusion come together.
This afternoon, I had the opportunity to provide testimony before the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) on the topic of “Free Tuition.” Of course, I shared with them all of the gratitude we have for their paying such close attention to the role our community colleges play in helping people and communities reach their full potential, and I shared with them all of the questions and concerns we have about this specific strategy for supporting “student success.” And then, what I really focused my presentation on was a challenge to them of measuring ALL of their educational policy considerations against questions about Student Outcomes and NOT just Student Access, and I shared with them our three Strategic Goals which do just that: Productivity, Equity, and Quality. In closing, I suggested they measure the merits of “Free Tuition” against this re-wording of our Strategic Goal #2:
Our goal is that the incoming demographics of our students
cease to be an effective predictor of their success.
Thanks for sharing with me in the continued conviction that the education we provide can be the pathway by which ALL people can “participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the cultural richness and economic vitality of our communities.”