While a good number of managers and administrators attended Faculty Council’s open forum on the recent elimination of the Electronics Technology and Automotive Collision and Refinishing programs, and several participated actively in the meeting, such participation was largely characterized by silence on the primary issues at hand and obfuscation aimed at derailing the conversation and minimizing legitimate concerns.
To the question of why the administration has not included in its projections all the net revenue from all required program courses that will be lost when the programs are cut, there was nothing but silence.
To the question of why the administration has not modified its estimate that 75 to 88 percent of students will come to Lane anyway even though the programs they were planning to attend have been eliminated, after they have acknowledged their estimate is nothing more than an assumption and that “the number could be zero,” there was nothing but silence.
To the question of why the administration has only included a review of singular job categories when evaluating job prospects for graduates of the affected programs, ignoring testimony by local employers, students, and faculty to the contrary, which is substantiated by employment department data, there was nothing but silence.
To the question of tabling the board’s decision in order to fairly and transparently adjudicate the matter of program cuts, there was nothing but silence.
To the questions raised about top-down management and increasingly ubiquitous demoralization campus-wide, there was nothing but silence.
To the questions raised about the pervasive culture of distrust and fear of retaliation at the college, there was nothing but silence.
Silence and obfuscation only further acrimony, serving as nothing more than a thin veil for what is actually happening.
Lane’s president, Mary Spilde, however, did provide some insight about the true motivations for the cuts. She explained that the disinvestment in higher education has had deleterious effects on the college, noting, nevertheless, that Lane has appeared unscathed to the community — it is problematic that we seem to have not needed the lost funding, implying that the programs must be eliminated so that the impact of reduced funding for community colleges will become more salient to the public.
The administration has been silent — the college president has been silent — because they cannot speak the truth — the truth is that cutting these programs will not save money; it will represent a net loss to the college budget, but these programs are being sacrificed in order to send a message to the community that higher education and community colleges need more funding.
Sending that message to the community, so clearly articulated by Mary Spilde at both the Budget and Finance and Faculty Council forums, appears to be the real reason why the administration is cutting the programs.
Community colleges are in dire need of sufficient funding, but eliminating viable, revenue-generating programs under the pretense of budgetary necessity and lack of community need, in order to prove to the public that we need more funding, is not the answer.