Over the past couple of weeks, I have conducted my regular semester campus forums at our campuses, learning centers, and the Cosand Center. I will wrap up the campus forums today at Corporate College and Florissant Valley.
During each session, I presented current initiatives at the College, enrollment data for the fall semester, concerns about completion rates, my meeting with the student group from Meramec, and provided time for questions and discussion about the current budget situation and the recommendations that will be decided upon at the November 30 Board of Trustees meeting. I also shared a form for faculty and staff to provide ideas regarding innovations for the College, which will be shared with the Innovation Council, being led by Dr. Elizabeth Perkins.
The sessions were very well attended, and much dialogue occurred during the recommendations session. Obviously, there is much consternation and concern about the current budget situation, but several ideas were presented and I appreciate each attendee and the dialogue that occurred.
Opportunities for Faculty and Staff Input for the Budget Response Team’s Business Case and Recommendations
Since the start of the semester, the Budget Response Team (BRT) has made many strides to obtain input as we developed our recommendations for the Trustees. As you know, five work teams were assembled, and District governance team leaders and bargaining unit leaders were invited to participate. All groups were represented with the exception of the NEA faculty bargaining unit who would not participate but attended the meetings to observe only. The NEA leadership has since engaged with the BRT during the past two weeks and I am pleased to hear their ideas regarding our budget situation.
We hosted a special Board Meeting on Tuesday, November 14, to listen to college and community members comment on the BRT’s Recommendations.
Finally, in an effort to be as inclusive as possible, the below meetings were conducted or will be held prior to the November 30 Trustee meeting to listen to input from faculty, staff, students, and bargaining unit representatives.
Meeting with Student Social Action Committee
On Monday, November 6, Trustees Gee, Larson and Martin and I met with the Student Social Action Committee. Several leadership team members were also present. The purpose of the meeting was to listen to their ideas about how to address the current budget situation.
During the meeting, I provided an overview of the BRT recommendations, and the students shared ideas they were working with to develop a proposal. Ideas included conducting a campaign with students to change the Hancock Amendment at the General Assembly, the development of a student advisory committee for marketing, updating our older buildings with an emphasis on improving energy efficiency, the development of internship or apprenticeship opportunities for students, and hosting campus events designed to assist with fundraising.
We are meeting again today, November 27, to listen to the committee’s final proposal.
Meetings with Bargaining Unit Leaders
In recent weeks, I either have met or will soon meet with representatives of all of the College’s bargaining units to have a dialogue about the BRT recommendations and to listen to any other input they may have regarding ideas to address the current budget situation. I sent the most recent version of the BRT recommendations to the bargaining unit leaders that I shared with Trustees the week of November 13.
The final meeting will be November 28 with the faculty unit of the NEA, who requested a second meeting to share recommendations. After that meeting, I will issue the final business case and recommendations from the Budget Response Team.
Preparation for November 30 Meeting
There is no one in any educational institution who enjoys addressing budget shortfalls when they occur. However, as a public organization supported by taxpayer funding, and for the sake of the future of our students and the community, it is necessary for the College to react to state revenue shortfalls in a financially responsible manner. It is also necessary for the College to make strides to strategically address the dramatic drop in enrollment that occurred between 2011 and 2015.
The BRT recommendations have been designed to address the budget shortfalls and to place the College in a strong financial position going forward and to ensure adequate resources are in place to meet the six initiatives of STLCC’s strategic plan. The recommendations are based on current budget assumptions including current state funding remaining flat. No one within the College knows what the future holds for funding allocations from the state.
Members of the Budget Response Team have gone to great efforts to develop the most recent Business Case and Recommendations. I will provide a final version of the document to Trustees after November 28 after hearing final recommendations from the students and bargaining unit leaders described above. We will also work on final details of a second voluntary separation incentive plan, providing this concept is approved by Trustees on November 30.
My thanks for your patience with and dedication to the College as we move through this difficult process.