College on a downward spiral

Were this and previous boards not capable of foreseeing the present dilemma?

Dear Sir:

It was with some sadness but little surprise that I read the recent Northwest Community College press release by president Dr. Denise Henning that predicts service cuts due to a $1.7 million budget shortfall.

As someone who was part of the very first academic faculty I have always had a spot in my heart for this college.

In the first eight years while I was employed at the college the number of administrative personnel was five. This number skyrocketed to 31 by the end of previous president Stephanie Forsyth’s reign while the number of instructors and students has remained fairly static.

Rumour has it that the new president has hired two more administrators. It is difficult to determine the exact number as the college website that used to inform the taxpayer now shows blank pages. Makes you wonder if a vice president in charge of websites should be engaged?

Administrators cost the college between $80,000 to $100,000 yearly, multiplied by 33, you do the math, Also, keep in mind they do not teach.

So who is to blame for this present dilemma apart from empire-building presidents? First the neo-Liberal government who short change all secondary education, mainly because the idea that ordinary – make that working class – people do not deserve post secondary education, but only sufficient training to become good employees asking no questions.

Second, the board of governors. Who are they? Appointed by the government, they serve two purposes: receive the flack that belongs to Victoria and to make sure that no push back takes place.

These folks are hand picked by the neo-Liberals and looking at the present board of governors it appears that one prerequisite to get appointed is that you lose one or more elections.

Those of us who took part in the open house at the college heard a lot of talk by Ms. Henning about openness and transparency, however apart from this onset of bad news, one will have a difficult time finding any information from the Northwest Community College president.

If you wish to find out what is happening regarding colleges check out the monthly reports of the presidents of Northern Lights College and College of New Caledonia. You will find some interesting information about the Industry Training Authority founded in 2005 that looks at training needs and was to be governed by representatives from industry, labour and students but now is only governed by industry and commerce heavy hitters, no workers or students.

The question arises – were this and previous boards not capable of foreseeing the present dilemma or are they pawns of a government that philosophically dislikes community colleges? (Especially given the direction of the government and the possible amalgamation of the northern colleges and the cutbacks planned for the Northwest Community College.)

I believe you can expect cuts to programs and increased fees which will be the beginning of a dangerous spiral of what, in my opinion, will reverse this college back to where it started – a vocational school only focusing on training what employers want, namely people serving as an extension of their equipment.

John Jensen, Terrace, BC