President’s State Of The College Address Focuses on HB2144,
The College’s Success, and Service to the Community
President Bornstein opened the President’s State Of The College noting that much of the meeting would involve presentations from key staff members including Vice President of Academic Affairs-Dr. Kathleen Corak, Vice President of Administrative Services-Jami Van Ess, and Director of Human Resources-Theresa Alvarado. President Bornstein went on to discuss House Bill 2144, Community College Correction sponsored by House of Representatives’ Higher Education, Innovation and Reform Committee Chairman Steve Court. Dr. Bornstein stated that even though the bill still faces obstacles, it is gaining momentum. At this time, the bill is in the hands of the Rules Committee which is where it is being studied to make sure that it abides by the Arizona Constitution and is in proper form. Dr. Bornstein stated that in essence the bill is being presented as a “do over” of the College’s property tax level. When the college was founded in 1991, the expected demand was underestimated, and because of this the property tax levy was set too low from the beginning. The original student enrollment estimate was only 1,000 students per year, an enrollment that the college reached in the first semester it opened its doors. The fact that the community demand for the College’s services was much higher than anticipated made the original “college without walls” concept obsolete soon after its opening. The “College without walls” concept was based on the idea that students could be served through rented space in several locations. Because of the huge demand, the logistics of renting space proved to be inefficient. Since CCC’s humble beginning 19 years ago, the College has touched the lives of over 62,000 learners in Coconino County and currently serves nearly 10,000 learners per year. The bill addresses long term financial sustainability for an institution that has become a key to educating Coconino County citizens and providing workforce development programs to support the local economy. Dr Bornstein said that we have a true “feel good” story to tell and that we should spread the word about our success.
Dr. Kathleen Corak took the podium to talk about the vision of Academic Affairs saying that the ultimate goal of the College is to “rebuild the economy one student at a time.” The vision addressed three specific components. The components included high school transitioning, workforce transitioning, and degrees and transitioning. Dr Corak also talked about the possibility of creating a similar program to CCC2NAU in the high schools and perhaps branding it as HIGH SCHOOOL 2 CCC. The concept would help the students create a path sooner in their high school career to enhance their preparation for higher education and careers after high school. CCC would provide an advisor that would visit the schools, much like the CCC2NAU advisor at the College. Dr. Corak mentioned that advising is critical to student success and stressed that earlier parental involvement was also key. Dr. Corak also touched on the Arizona Grand Canyon diploma program, which was inspired by the “Move on When Ready” nationwide initiative. The Arizona Grand Canyon diploma program allows students the option of attending a community college as early as the 10th grade. Dr. Corak added that many of these programs would not be possible without grants and partnerships and that securing new grants would enable the College to do even more. All of the plans are designed to accelerate the development of the learners and to make higher education more affordable and accessible. Dr. Corak closed by saying that she is “excited and invigorated” about the Academic Affairs vision and the positive impact it will have on our community.
Vice President of Business and Administrative Services, Jami Van Ess followed Dr. Corak with a concise budget presentation that showed the potential cuts in state aid to the College and what the College is doing to address these possibilities. Van Ess showed a chart illustrating the proposed cuts to different community colleges around the state ranging from less than ½ of 1 percent up to 85%, noting that CCC’s proposed cut was 31%. Van Ess mentioned that we are in tiers 2 and 3 of the Sustainable Financial Plan. That Plan was adopted in 2008 to systematically address and deal with the ongoing fiscal challenges facing the College. Since the adoption of the Sustainable Financial Plan the College has reduced costs by $1.5 million dollars by eliminating 24 full time equivalent positions, and reducing the following: employee benefits, professional development, travel, supplies, hours of operation, class offerings, and some student services. Van Ess also stated that in addition to continuing efficiency initiatives, the staff would propose tuition increases to the board. The proposed increases would be smaller than last years’ increase and further increases could potentially continue in the next three years in an incremental fashion. Such a gradual approach gives students and parents time to plan for the increases. Fees for credit card usage, increasing student parking fees, and late registration charges are some of the other ways the College could recoup dollars to pay for these services to students. The District Governing Board develops the FY 12 budget between January and May with a final vote in June.
After the budget presentation, Director of Human Resources, Theresa Alvarado presented a report from the staff committee that has been studying how to effectively manage the College’s personnel costs with the framework of the Sustainable Financial Plan. The committee had representation from many areas throughout the College. The committee studied the problems of salary compression and market competiveness that have resulted from several years of stringent budgets and tight cost controls. These issues are affecting faculty and staff recruitment and retention at the College. Alvarado then outlined recommendations to be presented to the board in February/March. Alvarado went on to say that the primary goal of the committee was to insure that the College addresses the salary compression issues in ways that recognize financial sustainability, equitability and fairness, and valuing the employees.