Greetings! I hope this message finds your fall quarter winding down well. I wanted to be sure you all were in the loop on a number of items, so please see below.
I’ll start with a brief budget update to let you know how the financial situation is evolving in Salem. The Governor released her budget on December 1st, and that budget proposal continues our allocation of $641 million. While we are thankful it is not a reduction, our task will be to help our legislators understand that to fully fund community colleges, we need an appropriation of $702 million. To summarize the long document and many possible interpretations, my “take” is that the governor’s proposed budget allocation for community colleges is better than we would have predicted a few months ago, but there will be some work to get us to “level” funding. The climb will not be as steep as the last biennium, but we are uncertain about the funds available in the state’s budget, given the pandemic and wildfire expenses. Please stay tuned for more from OCCA and the LBCC leadership team on how you can help in the advocacy efforts.
Someday, I will be able to write a Roadrunner Report without discussing COVID. We’re not there yet, so here goes: you have probably heard about the current “freeze.” We are unique in that LBCC straddles two counties that are each designated differently -- Benton County has been flagged as “high risk” of spreading the virus, and Linn County has been flagged as at “extreme risk.” In either case the message is clear: we have to do everything we can to help our community stay safe, including working remotely whenever possible. Also, mask wearing has never been more important. I miss seeing peoples’ smiles too but it’s what we need to do to help minimize spread of the virus. If you are on campus, wearing a mask is absolutely essential. I realize that for many of you, plans for family gatherings over the holidays are being changed due to COVID. This has certainly been true in our household, where outdoor visits and video calls have replaced many of our usual holiday traditions. I realize this places a hardship on many families, and we all miss being together in person. I need to remind everyone that if you do choose to travel outside of the state, LBCC is adhering to the Governor’s request and you will be asked to quarantine for 14 days before returning to in-person work. I appreciate your continued cooperation with these guidelines.
I want to thank you all for supporting the LBCC Foundation in its recent virtual gala, “Community Rays.” This was a huge accomplishment by the group of community board members and civic leaders that volunteer their personal time to help support the college (as well as a big lift for our Advancement staff - great job, team!). Thanks to donor support (including many employees who chose to contribute), students who otherwise would not have been able to go to college -- or stay in college -- will get the chance they need to succeed. Allison and I were pleased to give a donation in honor of our grandparents, who didn’t have the same opportunities we both had. It’s our way of paying it forward. If you are thinking about making an end-of-year donation too, please remember our Foundation in your plans.
As our students and faculty wrap up the term today, I want to say THANK YOU for an incredible fall term, which has once again put LBCC ingenuity on full display. I am so impressed with the creativity, dedication and energy that all of our employee groups - classified, full and part-time faculty, managers, and part-time employees - devote to help keep serving students and the community during this difficult time. Despite the challenging circumstances, LBCC has helped students to stay on their path to success. Thanks to all of you in your various roles for helping make this possible.
I understand that I’m missing LB’s traditional end-of-year cookie and sweets academic reception extravaganza. I usually try to avoid sweets (so I can enjoy more salty snacks), but I do wish I could raise a glass of hot chocolate with you all and thank you personally for your work this term. I guess we’ll have to take rain checks on that for the time being. In the meantime, let’s continue to support one another and lift each other up as 2020 draws to a close.
Last night, my family and I attended the City of Albany’s Winter Wonderland holiday event at LBCC. The event was a drive-through holiday light celebration, with beautiful lights, festive decorations, and even live reindeer. This was a great example of how 2020 has gone: despite challenging circumstances and a deadly pandemic, the community came together to creatively celebrate joyfully and safely. We had a long wait in the parking lot (but, being 2020, we had nowhere else to go anyway!) and enjoyed holiday music in the car during the wait. The girls loved seeing festive dancers and the beautiful lights, and Allison and I were glad to be out of the house! I want to thank the LBCC support team who helped with the event, which was so popular they had to turn people away. It was a first for us to be able to host this type of event, and I am glad we were able to offer the space to host so many families, volunteers . . . and reindeer.
Over the winter break, Allison, Ella, Emily and I plan to stay closer to home than usual. We’re trying to find ways to see grandparents outdoors, with masks and social distance. We’re also basking in the other joys of the season, including baking holiday treats and watching seasonal classics. Whatever your break plans might be, I hope they include warmth, joy, and, especially important for this year, health and safety. Stay well, and thank you for your dedication to LBCC.