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* SCC president testifies before House committee

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Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert (second from left) at the Nov. 2, 2011 House Higher Education Committee hearing at South Puget Sound Community College. To Lambert's left is Clover Park President John Walstrum. Third from right is Pierce College President Michelle Johnson and Centralia College President Jim Walton is at far right.

Shoreline President Lee Lambert joined 13 other college and university presidents in painting a picture for state House Higher Education Committee members of what proposed budget cuts will mean for their schools and their students.

The presidents’ comments came Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 on the campus of South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, at the last of five “Chautauqua” meetings convened by the committee around the state to gather input before the coming special and regular legislative sessions. Lambert was asked by committee chairman Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, to participate on a panel addressing budget impacts as well as efficiencies and innovations.

“Shoreline is part of the Five-Star Consortium, which includes Edmonds, Everett, Cascadia and Lake Washington colleges,” Lambert said. “We began meeting before the state efficiencies bill was passed to look at how we could better serve students.”

Lambert said the five colleges expect to sign, sometime in the next month, an agreement that would share student records, waive the so-called “last quarter residency requirement, establish common entry scores for math and English, share employee background check data and use each for personnel investigations.

“Your colleges are already working together on these things because we’re focused on the student,” Lambert told the legislators.

Lambert also outlined some of the innovative programs at Shoreline as examples of what is happening across the state.

Holding up his cell phone, he displayed the college’s mobile Web site. “Can you imagine a community college student going to class on their phone?” he asked. He also noted a new service that will roll out this fall allowing emergency communications with staff, students and anyone who signs up to be received on voicemail, e-mail  and text.

“We started this past winter two individualized math classes, basic algebra and intermediate algebra that are modularized and let the student work at their own pace,” he said. “Now results are early, but we’re getting 20 percent better outcomes than with a traditional approach.”

Lambert noted the Business Accelerator program that partners with the city of Shoreline to work with businesses. The program, he said, is piloting an online component that will provide training not just to Shoreline businesses, but to anyone in the country through another partnership with a private firm, Campus CE.

“The future looks great,” Lambert said. “But with these cuts, it is going to be difficult to get there.”

Other presidents outlined the depth of the impacts of previous budget cuts and the future if the proposed cuts go through.

Pierce College President Michelle Johnson said the colleges have been able to keep their heads above water, but now the water is at their necks. “Our enrollment is dipping now, and the estimates for the system are that it will be down by 40,000 students for the biennium,” she said.

Centralia College President Jim Walton said further cuts mean his college would have to close offices and programs. “We are living on the margin. We have one person offices and one person teaching a subject,” he said. “If we lose that marginal tuition, we will just have to cut.”

Clover Park President John W. Walstrum said the cuts already have been devastating. “I have $5 million less, 10 percent fewer students, nine fewer programs. I haven’t seen a new piece of equipment in years,” he said. “I’ve looked into the eyes of 60 employees to tell them they no longer have jobs.”

Shoreline’s Lambert said the cuts hurt the very people the system is designed to help.

“I’m the person we are talking about,” Lambert said. “I’m a first-generation college student, a person of color. I went to Timberline High School, Evergreen University and Seattle University. I wouldn’t be here but for the programs we’re talking about cutting.”

SCC/Jim Hills

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