January 28, 2015

College Relations

The John A. Logan College Board of Trustees met in regular session on Tuesday evening to a packed house resulting in a change of venue to the College’s Conference Center. Once settled in, the board began looking at several reports and suggestions designed to begin chipping away at a $2 million budget shortfall.

One suggestion presented to the board by the Athletic Advisory Committee was to suspend the men’s and women’s golf programs. Following impassioned pleas from the golf coaches, former players, and parents, the board voted 6-1 to table a vote on the matter until February to give the Athletic Department more time to come up with suggestions to reduce expenditures.

Board Chairman Jake Rendleman provided the board and the audience with a report by the Illinois Community College Board showing how state funds were distributed among the state’s 39 community colleges. According to Rendleman, the report begins to shed light on why some schools in the northern part of the state are not having the same financial issues that schools in the mid and southern parts of the state are.

“This shows that the tremendous tax base in the collar counties benefits those colleges. We currently get 20 percent of our income from taxes and 37 percent from the state,” Rendleman said. “I wanted you to be able to see that with possible state reductions and decreased revenue from tuition and fees the road we face.”

Rendleman added that several grants that were offered by the state just a few years ago are no longer available.

“You can see that several grants for veterans and other special populations that were once available to John A. Logan and other colleges are no longer available further increasing the burden on colleges to provide needed services.”

Vice President for Business Services and College Facilities Brad McCormick reported that the financial situation that the College is facing is not a situation of runaway expenses, but a situation of runaway revenue. According to McCormick, a recent report by the Illinois Community College Board showed that only two other colleges in the state have a lower cost to generate a credit hour than John A. Logan College.

“In other words, we have done a very good job of managing expenses. The problem is with students taking less and less credit hours; we can’t match the reduction in expenses to an increase in revenue,” McCormick said. “When I looked at our most recent financial statement, our student tuition and fees revenue is down 8.9 percent, which makes it more difficult to reach the $2 million target.”

Vice President for Student Services and Community Education Tim Daugherty reported on recent enrollment trends. Daugherty provided graphs that showed that while the number of students enrolled at the College had remained steady, the number of credit hours each student has taken continues to decline.

“The information clearly shows that when the recession hit in 2008 our students began taking on average one less class per semester,” Daugherty said. “Because our students are balancing work, family, and other financial obligations, the majority of them are now part-time students, where ten years ago the majority were full-time.”

Daugherty added that while current spring semester enrollment numbers have not been finalized, the College is essentially serving the same number of students this spring as last spring.

President Dreith reported that the administration had provided the board with a list of 420 unedited recommendations made by faculty and staff to increase enrollment and reduce expenditures. According to Dreith, the most popular suggestions to reduce expenditures fell into three categories: reducing administrative overhead, decrease athletic spending, and alterations to the operation of the CHEC building.

Dr. Dreith also reported that he has asked Vice President for Instructional Services Laurel Klinkenberg to head a taskforce to identify and implement new operational academic programs.

“I believe that it is absolutely imperative for us to find new programs to increase our credit hour generation and to keep up with the marketplace,” he said. “We do have financial issues, but we must evolve as an institution and offer new career choices for emerging careers.”

Dreith also reported that he will be bringing information forward in the coming months to the Athletic Advisory Committee regarding data on a potential move to Division II in sports.

The board approved the following items: purchase of a Hunter Computerized Alignment system, the 2014 annual audit by Kemper CPA Group, and the revision to the College’s contract with food service vendor Chartwells.

The board also approved a recommendation to move current Dean for Academic Affairs Valerie Barko to the positon of dean for institutional effectiveness upon the retirement of current dean, Cindy Johnson.

According to Vice President for Instructional Services Laurel Klinkenberg, the move was vital in order to fill a tremendous void left by Johnson’s retirement with only 22 months remaining until the College’s Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit.

“In light of the current financial situation the administration has recommended that Dr. Valerie Barko be moved into the position of dean for institutional effectiveness. Dr. Barko’s knowledge and understanding of the accreditation process will provide the stability we need as we approach this crucial time in our reaccreditation effort,” said Klinkenberg.

According to Klinkenberg, the position of dean of academic affairs will not be filled in the near future and that she and other administrators would divide the duties of the position.