The college's increasingly inept president and board of trustees have approved a budget that will hurt employees by forcing a pay furlough on us as well as strange and stringent professional development budget constraints that mean, essentially, there will be little professional development going on over the next year or two, especially the kinds that count in terms of many of our academic conferences and the kind of programs that keep us updated on what's happening in our professions, which means we really can't meet requirements set up in the new policies for tenured and untenured faculty, at least not in the spirit of those policies.
Tuition has been increased though enrollment numbers are still in trouble, and the attempts to raise enrollments seem to disregard important factors like the need for full-time faculty and increasing the numbers of full-time faculty teaching here, or that it's ultimately the quality of teaching and the quality of the programs (like how journalism students are treated) that attract or repel students. Even more damaging to the Lancaster campus, it's now almost as affordable for a student to attend a large, well known state university situated just a few miles away from our second largest community college campus; increasing tuition has taken away an important incentive for students to choose HACC over Millersville University, potentially causing more damage to the Lancaster campus's enrollment rates.
Frankly, the college could probably solve its budget crisis better by laying off a number of administrators and making many more administrators part-time. The college could survive perfectly well with many more part-time than full-time administrators than it can with part-time faculty; the students and faculty probably would barely notice the difference. Such a change would probably free up money to hire more full-time faculty to teach the students, which is where the priority should be.
This college needs a reboot in its priorities. The point of a community college is to provide an affordable, accessible education to students. That means providing quality, full-time teachers with the necessary resources (like offices, library staff, and professional development) and quality support services (like tutors and testing and disability services). Everything else is secondary.
Our community college has been around for a long time, and even our new campuses have been around for awhile now. We serve small communities even though they may seem like big cities sometimes. People know who we are. We have a reputation. Advertising may help. But it isn't going to increase enrollments the way the businessman heart of our president seems to want. It just reminds people of when our registration periods are and of special events and so on. What makes and breaks us is our reputation and what happens in the classroom. Even the big push we do at the beginning of each semester with local high school students, which helps enrollments, only gets them in the doors. We have to keep them learning in the classrooms. We have to show them that we value education, ourselves, and that we value the degrees and professionalism of the faculty teaching them, and therefore the degrees we want the students to earn from us. We, the college as a whole, need to show them that we value the students enough to listen to their professors when they tell administrators what those students need in the classroom or in extracurricular activities, and we need to pay the faculty well enough that they can focus on the students rather than on where their next car payment will come from or how they will pay a doctor's bill.
We will either build our reputation up or tear it down over the next few years. It's time to seriously question our leaders and their decisions and perhaps seek ways to change the people in those leadership positions if they won't change the way they our managing our college.