Among a number of subjects covered at a brown-bag lunch discussion with Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert, the one that drew the most attention was the likelihood that immediate budget cuts won’t be needed.
“Thanks to the Senate, it looks like we’re over the biggest hurdle,” Lambert said at the noon, Friday, Aug. 6, 2010 gathering in the PUB Quiet Dining Room. “The Medicaid money fills a huge gap for the state. It suspends, I hope, the need to make immediate reductions.” (See related story).
Lambert cautioned that state economic conditions could still change and impact the college budget. “Things could go the other way this fall,” he said, adding that he has asked the vice presidents to think about contingencies if the threat of midyear cuts returns.
Lambert agreed with a comment from faculty member Gary Parks that the state’s Congressional delegates are deserving of thanks for their roles in securing the federal stop-gap funding that, if not derailed, helps the state and college budgets.
While concern over immediate reductions was paramount, Lambert also wanted to talk about and remind that despite the uncertainty, “A lot of good things are happening here.”
Lambert mentioned that he spoke Friday morning with partners in NC3, the National Coalition of Certification Centers. The national public-private partnership is a collaboration of education and industry around new and emerging technology skills in the transportation, aviation and energy industry sectors. The goal is to develop skills certifications that bridge training and employment environments.
“We’re one of the leadership schools in this effort,” Lambert said. Unfortunately, Lambert said, involvement in such efforts means he has to be gone from campus. “To do that, I can’t be here. And, I need to pull in others, like (Dean) Susan Hoyne, which means they are gone.”
In that environment, Lambert said the vice presidents become even more important in running the day-to-day operations of the college.
Lambert mentioned the school’s Professional Automotive Training Center as a prime example of how partnerships benefit students and the community. “If we want to do more like that, say in Music Tech for example, who do we know that we can develop those partnerships?” he said. “It can’t just be me; it has to be all of us, a total effort that gets us there.”
Lambert mentioned that he will join Gov. Chris Gregoire this fall on an economic development trip to China and Vietnam. “The Governor has six points on her economic agenda and one of them is attracting international students,” he said. Increasing the number of international students is also a key for Shoreline, he said, but the trip comes during the opening week of fall quarter: “I won’t be able to be here during opening week.”
During the meeting, faculty member Tim Payne questioned whether the college had the processes in place to handle a more partnership-oriented, entrepreneurial approach. Payne said he is taking a study-abroad group to Bali on Monday, but was on campus Friday to get the check to fund the trip. Lambert listened and by the end of the meeting, had information for Payne about where to pick up the check.
Faculty member Parks, who is also the current faculty union president, asked about who sets the vision for such partnerships and, while Lambert is off-campus, do the vice-presidents share the same vision.
“It has to be from the ground up as well as the top down,” Lambert said. He noted that the idea for the automotive program came from one faculty member, Don Schultz. “It takes a whole effort. It can’t happen without everyone working together.”
Payne also asked about concerns raised recently on the faculty listserv over guidelines for attending a forum during an administrative-position hiring process. Lambert responded that as soon as he’d heard about the restrictive guidelines, “I spoke to those involved and said that was not OK.” He added that there are some positions on this campus for which the hiring process should be as open as possible.
Questions came back to the budget and faculty member Karen Kreutzer asked for clarification about the potential for immediate budget cuts.
“I don’t anticipate cuts by the end of August unless we get a surprise from the state,” Lambert said. “I do think that by the end of the calendar year, we’re going to need to know about the structure of the college. The problem is, we won’t know details from the Legislature until late spring or early summer.
“With the Governor projecting a $3 billion shortfall, something’s got to change.”
Kira Wennstrom, co-chair of the Strategic Planning and Budget Committee, said that group is preparing a presentation for the opening week all-campus lunch, now scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, in the PUB Main Dining Room. “We’ve been working this summer on gathering enrollment information and internal strengths and weaknesses,” Wennstrom said.
Dean Norma Goldstein gave an update on accreditation efforts.
“A lot of work has been done, but now its time for everyone to get involved,” she said. “I’ll be doing a session during opening week titled, ‘What students, faculty and staff should know about accreditation.’ We are a learning institution and we’re learning how to do this.”
Faculty member Karen Toreson asked about the status of the Center for Business and Continuing Education, the Lake Forest Park campus and the Five-Star Consortium.
“Lake Forest Park is winding down,” Lambert said. “We’re not backing down on continuing education; the Business Accelerator program is moving forward, we do a lot of contract training and we’ll have the Plus 50 initiative. We just have to go about it in a different way.”
Lambert said progress on the Five-Star Consortium - a collaborative agreement between Shoreline, Edmonds, Everett and Cascadia community colleges as well as Lake Washington Technical College – has been “a little slow.”
“The presidents have not sat down and talked for awhile, but other discussions are on-going,” he said. He noted that faculty member Elizabeth Hanson recently spoke with peers from the other schools, although Hanson’s comments mirrored the “slow” characterization.
“Lake Washington and Edmonds folks didn’t really know about it,” she said. “But they were pleased it is happening.”
At the end, Lambert said that despite duties pulling him off-campus, he urged people to share their thoughts and concerns with him by e-mail.
“Things are tough and we have fewer people being asked to serve the same number or more students,” he said. “There will be slippages, but let’s try to be compassionate, understanding and not beat ourselves up. There’s a lot of good work happening here.”