Good morning Roadunnners,
I hope spring is treating you well! Today wraps up Spring Break for our students and I hope, whether you were working this week or managed to take a few days off, you got the chance to catch a little spring sunshine.
LBCC has been in the news recently, and I am always glad when the coverage highlights student voices. I want to thank our student Vanessa Cisneros for sharing her experiences in the recent news story that appeared in the Democrat-Herald. If you are interested in hearing more student stories, please view this recent panel, sponsored by LBCC’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In the panel, organized for Women’s History Month, students speak about COVID - One Year Later, from a Latina student perspective. I hope you get time to check it out!
Speaking of COVID, there is some brighter news coming forward at last. As you have heard, Linn County is expecting a large shipment of vaccines near the end of this month. Our staff is working with the Health Department to bring clear options to our employees so that our staff and faculty can gain access to shots just as soon as possible. I am looking forward to getting my vaccine and being one step closer to normalcy! That said, there are some lessons learned from COVID life this past year that I believe we will want to keep as part of a “new normal.” As we move into the coming academic year, I have asked our leadership to explore ways in which we might be able to keep flexible learning options available for students in all forms. I will be eager to share these plans with you as we learn more.
We are also heartened to learn that community colleges in Oregon will be getting some financial support for losses incurred due to the pandemic from the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan Act. We don’t yet know the details of this plan in terms of the exact amount of support that will come to LBCC, or the rules for using this one-time money…but what I can say is that fully half of this funding will go directly to students in the form of checks disbursed this fall, winter and spring – meaning our students will get a significant helping hand in the coming school year.
As a result of this news I am very proud to say that our Board of Education voted last week to reduce the 8% tuition hike we had been forecasting. Instead, working with our Office of Finance and Operations, they settled on a 4.5% tuition increase which will reduce the burden placed on future students. We are all so delighted to be able to continue to make LBCC as affordable as possible and I am deeply appreciative of the Board’s commitment to both affordability and fiscal sustainability - it’s a delicate balancing act. Thank you to the Student Leadership Council, as well as the LBCC budget team, for the diligent work and collaborative feedback process in this area.
As the quarter winds down, I want to send a few shout-outs: thank you to the Financial Aid team for holding workshops to increase FAFSA applications, and to our Advising team for helping students get organized for fall. Our faculty continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to help students succeed in the classroom, whether it is a virtual, in-person or hybrid experience. We’re having an “all hands on deck“ approach to helping our enrollment rebound, and I appreciate all of your efforts to help make sure students are on the right track.
Finally, I want to especially encourage your attendance at the upcoming Spring In-Service on Friday April 2. Please make time to attend this one-hour virtual event, which begins at 9am. This event is our chance to celebrate all the great work of this past year – and especially to honor our outstanding employees who earned Awards of Excellence this year.
On the home front, we’re taking a couple of days off for a long weekend at the Oregon Coast, and visiting the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which has reopened for timed entry. It’s nice to hear the waves crashing, and to enjoy some nice walks on the beach. As spring break ends and we get ready for the final term of the academic year, I hope your weekend plans also involve relaxation and some nice scenery.