St. Louis Community College has a rich tradition of educating students no matter where they are on life’s spectrum – – and our faculty and staff have helped them earn a credential, get a boost in their careers, or transfer to a four-year institution. The College will continue this work while facing necessary change.
Last night, the Board of Trustees approved amended recommendations from the College’s Budget Response Team to address current financial realities that include a $5 million budget cut from the state of Missouri and declining enrollment post-recession. We’ve had many tough conversations, meetings, and planning sessions to address this, and although we came up with innovative recommendations, I cannot ignore how much these decisions may disappoint many in our community.
We saw evidence of this last night as students passionately protested during the board meeting. They’re rightfully devoted to St. Louis Community College and its faculty, as am I. But a budget shortfall has caused us to make tough decisions and prepare this college for the immediacy of change.
The work continues: our burgeoning working relationship with the STLCC NEA is an indicator of the hard work all of us have put in to move the College forward. We’ve proposed to them a special Voluntary Separation Incentive Program that would serve as a welcome resolution and have the potential of minimizing the specter of a reduction in force to address budget challenges. We’re also taking a look at a tiered employee health benefits plan to address those same concerns.
We heard your concerns and took them seriously. In the coming weeks, you’ll continue to hear from me about next steps and I will continue to listen to you as we work through this process. Change is necessary, but I also understand that change can also be painful. With civil dialogue and collaboration, we can face what may pain us, and come through it together knowing we’ve carefully reshaped a beloved and trusted institution.
When I was hired two years ago, I said: “I am eager to begin work with the faculty, staff, students, and the trustees of this organization and the entire St. Louis community. Our mission is about providing students with the opportunity to prepare themselves with the education and skills needed for high wage jobs, for further education, and to provide employers with a highly educated and skilled workforce so desperately needed for the future.”
I still feel the same way.
I’m honored to lead St. Louis Community College through 2023 and appreciate the Board of Trustees for extending my contract. I wake up every day excited about the college’s future: the exciting expansion of our dual enrollment program; the construction of the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences; and most importantly, the path that our students take to success by studying at STLCC. I look forward to collaborating with you to make St. Louis Community College the first choice for students in the region.
Jeff L. Pittman, Ph.D.