Regardless of your plans tomorrow (Wednesday) night, CANCEL THEM and ATTEND the LCC BOARD of EDUCATION MEETING at 6:30 p.m.
It is not hyperbole to say that the future of our college, and perhaps all of our programs, depends on it.
We met last Friday and again yesterday morning with Interim Vice President Dawn DeWolf, Vice Presidnet Brian Kelly, and HR Executive Director Dennis Carr to discuss their “rationale” for their proposal to eliminate our Medical Office Assistance (MOA), Auto Body and Paint, and Electronics programs, but what we learned was far more outrageous than their goal of killing these programs. When we challenged their claims for “savings” in the program cuts (e.g. their fantastical claim that “75%” of students that would come to LCC for these programs would come anyhow), they made clear that their real motivation was their “concern about the quality” of the programs and the ability of graduates to get jobs. When we responded that 100% of the MOA students pass their required tests and 100% get jobs right away, we were told that the Administration had “done a survey” and that “employers” had questioned the currency of the programs. When we asked if the faculty in the programs were involved in the surveys, involved in the analysis of their program quality, or even aware of the “survey”, the answer was no, the Administration had done a secret survey on their own. With no notice to anyone, the “leadership” of our college decided to go out and ask “at least three local employers” about how they thought LCC was doing, and then these same “leaders”, supposedly based upon the “responses” and other state data, simply decided to eliminate two of the programs (Auto Body and Paint, and Electronics), and to “suspend” the MOA program.
Incredulous, we asked, “Seriously? This is how the Administration wants to work with the faculty of our college? You do secret “surveys” of possible employers, with no involvement of the faculty in the program, you conclude based upon that “survey” that the program should be eliminated (or, in MOA’s case, “suspended” until the current faculty have retired or lost their recall rights, then re-open the program and hire new faculty), then you claim that you’re closing the program to “save money” as part of the budget balancing process, and make up numbers that ignore much of the revenue the program brings in, and then assume fantastical percentages of the program’s students will come here despite closing the program they wanted to study?” The Administration’s answer is “yes.”
It gets worse.
We requested a copy of this “survey”, which you’ll find attached (though they did not provide the actual results of the survey, only their summary of the responses; we’ve asked for the former and will provide those upon receipt). One doesn’t need to be a sociologist to quickly discern the quality of the “survey”, which speaks for itself: interviewing two to four employers per program (so much for having a valid sample size), and choosing “local large employers” (rather than interviewing actual employers of our graduates), apparently talking with whomever agreed to answer the questions (in at least one case, it was the Office Manager who knows next to nothing about LCC), asking a few general questions (only one of which asks questions about their perception of the quality of LCC students and is a very general question at that), and then the conductor of the “survey” (former LCC Executive Dean Andrea Newton) leaps to general conclusions about whether programs should be closed, suspended, moved to “continuing education,” etc., apparently based in part upon the “responses” and additional State Employment Department data projecting future job availability.
And perhaps worst of all:
The final “Recommendations” of the “study” identify the Administration plans for our college, which include: converting “programs that do not need degrees… to continuing education” format; moving classes to “non-credit certificate” format and have students later “convert it to credit”; “constructing common ‘packages’ of courses for students to “complete … in summers, nights, or breaks” (which apparently means that the Administration wants our students to teach themselves without us); offering several programs (i.e., “Auto Body, Aviation Maintenance, Flight Tech, and Computer Programming”) “less often if there’s a cost savings”, etc. Many of these “strategies” are simply ways of moving instruction from LCC faculty to “continuing education” teachers that the Administration could pay what they choose, or other means to reduce the role of faculty in instruction and our college.
So, rather than work with the faculty, or have faculty work with the Administration in the new “Program Review” process that the Administration has been promoting, and faculty members have been helping turn into appropriate academic/collegiate framework, the Administration somehow develops concerns about some programs (which in some cases is clearly just retaliation against faculty members by the division dean or other administrators for standing up for their rights), does a secret survey of a few large businesses rather than actual employers of Lane graduates, doesn’t interview our former students to see if they’ve found work but instead relies upon very limited state employment projections, develops strategies to turn our programs over to continuing education teachers or self-teaching modules, then claims our programs aren’t up to par and need to be cut and faculty laid off “in order to balance the books,” based upon fantastical claims about the projected “savings.”
Do know that Association Representatives pointed out each of the problems to the Administration, urged them as strongly as possible to avoid this path, and implored them to work with the faculty if they have concerns for program quality or ideas on how to restructure our curriculum in order to promote student success. Our pleas fell on absolutely deaf ears.
It’s now up to all of us, together, to stand up to this embarrassingly bad “management” of our college, to make clear that such actions may be how management works in the private industry, but we’re a college and faculty are and must be at the center of curriculum evaluation, decisions, and planning.
Start by coming to the Board Meeting this Wednesday night (April 8, 6:30 p.m.), and demand far better, for our colleagues, for our programs, for our students, and for our college. Because the current Management plan for our college is a nightmare.