President’s Monthly Report
Quarterly Progress Report: 20-21 President’s Goals
● Goal: Continue to make progress on the Benton Center Expansion Project and plan for the Equestrian Center Project. (shared with Board)
The Benton Center North Project has begun, after many delays related to the permitting process. Construction began in October, and the target opening is set for spring 2022. Though the project has seen some delays and cost overruns, it is vital to expanding LBCC’s Benton County community education programming and transfer classes. Planning for the community celebration to honor the building’s opening has already begun.
The Equestrian Center Project earned a ranking of #3 in the HECC/CCWD funding ranking for 2021-2023, with a requested budget cap of $8,000,000 (the equivalent amount of funding will be required in local match). The planning committee for this project met prior to the COVID-related move to remote instruction, and has not been convened since. A capital campaign will be needed in order to raise funds for the match; to successfully launch this, the planning committee will need to reconvene in early 2021 to begin a feasibility study.
● Goal: Continue to develop and implement strategies for addressing student affordability. (shared with Board)
Since arriving in June 2020, I have participated in numerous initiatives related to student affordability, most notably addressing CARES Act, GEER funding and other possible federal sources of funding.
In addition to COVID emergency funding, two factors are closely associated with student affordability: time to degree and tuition cost. While tuition costs (projected to again increase in AY 2021-22) are largely directly correlated with market forces such as the CCSF funding level and other state aid, reducing time to degree can be strongly influenced by the college’s policies, practices, and procedures. Continuing our strong foundation on guided pathways is one key element of time to degree, and we are making excellent progress, largely due to the work of the Academic Affairs leaders. Further, I have begun collaborating with our university partners on transfer efficiency, and met with OSU and WOU presidents on this topic. A new transfer workgroup with LBCC and OSU leadership will begin its work later this month (improved data sharing agreements are a key component in this effort). Along those lines, chief next steps will be to sharpen and expand our dual enrollment programs to help high school students prepare to progress efficiently into and through college. My meetings with superintendents in our service area have already yielded great suggestions about methods of increasing the results of our partnerships.
● Goal: Lead the college’s preparations for a sustainable, post-COVID-19 higher education context
As I lead the college through this dynamic time, I am guiding my team to focus on sustainable, affordable programs and projects that help our community rebound from the pandemic. Key elements of that include carefully managing our budget resources and aggressively pursuing our enrollment targets. Working with OPC colleagues, I have been able to advocate for a fair and sustainable Community College Support Fund for the next biennium. We are preparing LBCC’s next biennial budget now, and have made adjustments based on our COVID expenditures, smaller class sizes and expanded remote learning options.
Another critical task is to keep innovating despite (and perhaps because of) the pandemic. I have made a broad college appeal to inform staff that we need to continue our tradition of having the best CTE programs in the Northwest. While being conscious of our budget situation, we are exploring how we can expand our existing workforce partnerships and begin new funded programs with partners like the Knife River Training Center and others to help meet workforce demand.
Finally, as one of the area’s largest employers, it is imperative that we also attend to the impact of COVID on our own workforce. Most of our employees have been working remotely since mid-March, and that is likely to extend well into the new year. In addition to the challenges delivering remote instruction and student services, there are also health and mental health issues among our employees. To help, we have implemented more flexible work hours, emphasized employee wellness, and changed our meeting schedules. Focusing on our core mission of instructional excellence while our employees balance COVID-related K-12 and elder care role conflict is essential.
● Goal: Conduct a successful year-long presidential transition to LBCC, resulting in an expanded and future-focused vision for the college, along with sustained and expanded community relationships. (shared with Board)
During my first six months as LBCC, I have made significant connections to the external community and built important relationships within the college. These partnerships will benefit the college and our communities in the current landscape and in coming years. Please see an attached appendix outlining specific activities and accomplishments.
● Goal: In collaboration with the Board of Education, develop, implement and communicate a new 3-10 year LBCC vision, integrating it with existing Productivity, Equity and Quality goals and metrics.
The new 3-10 year LBCC vision is under development for board review and discussion in winter 2021. Areas of consideration include but are not limited to: enrollment landscape, employment outlook, post-COVID higher education forecast, increased use of technology, expanded short programs, eliminating silos between credit and non-credit, and other innovations. The essential question to be addressed is: how does LB stay not only excellent but also increasingly relevant and integral to the community in the rapidly-changing context? Using our productivity, equity and quality metrics, we will chart a future vision together, including the “now more than ever” slogan that has become our operating principle during COVID. The underpinnings of the LBCC vision will be focused on how the college serves our region to help the area to revive the workforce, rebound the economy and revitalize education.