President’s Friday Letter, 4-24-15

Hello from Lower Columbia College in Longview WA.  This month’s presidents’ meeting is being held here.

This meeting has been important because we have been discussing the new allocation model that we intend to adopt in 16-17.  This is the model through which we distribute the money given to us by the legislature to the 34 community college campuses.  Final decisions are being made about how to count ABE students, international students, maintenance money, high cost programs, and the Student Achievement Initiative.  It is a culmination of two years’ work.

You might recall that this was one of the variables presented at last September’s Convocation that could negatively affect our on-going budget.  Indeed, it will have a negative effect, although not as large as we assumed. We do not have to implement the new model until 16-17 so it will give us next year to fully understand just how much money this means.  Once we have a more firm idea of this (probably around August), I will let you know.

Our accreditation visit is next week.  I pick up the two evaluators from the airport on Monday night and they will be on campus Tuesday and Wednesday to review our systems.  They have requested meetings with a number of employees; Dede will have contacted you if you are on that list.  In general, they want to know how we make decisions and get feedback on things like the Academic Plan, Operational Plans, Learning Outcomes, etc.  The answer, in case you didn’t know, is that almost all institutional decisions are made through our committee and governance structure.  Groups like the Outcomes Assessment Committee or Student Learning Council focus on learning outcomes and course outcome guides; governance structures like the Budget Council, Assemblies and Navigators provide feedback on things like the Academic Plan, Mission Statement, Budget and Core Themes.  All of this information feeds up to different writing teams that vary by topic.

I am always glad to explain to evaluators our systems because I think they provide a good shared governance model and lead us to progress on our various initiatives.  If you have been invited to attend a meeting, I highly encourage you to do everything you can to attend.

Speaking of budget (both in terms of the allocation model and accreditation visit), I want to reiterate that we are in a tight spot this year.  The legislature has not hurt us too badly…although they have a couple decisions still to make.  We are still working on variables like our next 2-year contract with UWB and our faculty union negotiations.  And, we are right on the cusp of “break-even” given our enrollment predictions and on-going mandatory costs…so getting deep through our action plans may not be possible.  We’ll look at the Budget Council’s prioritized list and get as far as we can.  Decisions will need to be made by the next Board Meeting (May 20), so stay tuned.

Finally, April 30 is our next non-instructional day, which means it is also the next day for faculty and staff to gather together and learn more about a particular topic. These days were previously called professional development days. (And you read that correctly…previously.) Over the past year we have been listening to feedback that professional development days would benefit from a new name that better reflects the intention of the day (assemble as a campus community) and activities of the day (inquiry about a range of topics).

In response to your feedback, and thanks to the creativity and responsiveness of Human Resources, I present you with the new name: Day for Inquiry and Assembly – otherwise known as DIA. Below is the logo, designed by our talented Susan Ford.

dia_logoWe will launch our new Diversity and Inclusion Initiative at the All Campus DIA.  I’m looking forward to seeing EVERY employee there, unless you are pre-approved to be away that day.  I will hold several make-up sessions during May so that those who miss can become informed.  The topic of the day is important and will affect every employee.  It is going to be a good day.

With all of that said, please note that I will be sending a Special Addendum to the Friday Letter later today that will need your attention.  AND, please, have a great weekend!

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