Chancellor promotes new education plan

By Elisabetta Silvestro/The Guardsman

The first public forum to discuss the City College Education Master Plan met Jan. 30 at Mission center where four panelists, including Chancellor Arthur Tyler, detailed the planning process to an audience of approximately 35 people.

“We are still here. We are still accredited and we are going to be for a very long time,” Tyler said. “This is also why we are working on this Education Master Plan.”

The master plan will be a long-range project formulated by City College in collaboration with the Voorhees Group to guide the school over the next three to five years.

The Voorhees Group LLC is a group of consultants in higher education that provides strategies to improve practice and policy of institutions and organizations.

Tyler said the master plan is important to guide what City College will do, and thanks to the planning phase, the school will be able to reach out to the community, find out their needs and serve them appropriately.

“We can’t just keep doing the same thing,” Tyler said. “We have to stay current and have feedback from our community in order to do so.”

The planning started Nov. 22, 2013, and will end May 1, 2014. It will outline City College’s most important priorities and goals and provide a guide to integrated planning, future actions and decisions about the allocation of resources.

Rick Voorhees and Cathy Hasson from the Voorhees Group and Pamela Mery, dean of institutional effectiveness, were the other panel members.  They were later joined by Tom Gonzales from the Voorhees Group and City College teacher and Education Master Plan designee Loren Bell.

John Carrese, director of the San Francisco Bay Centers of Excellence, facilitated the discussion.

During the first half of the hour-long forum, the panel answered questions posed by Carrese.  The second half of the program consisted of questions from the audience to the panel.

The public, mostly faculty and staff, was rather critical and discouraged. From skepticism toward a plan based on data and assumptions to the fear of elimination of courses, the atmosphere in the room was of distrust.

A woman came into the room before the beginning of the forum and shouted at the four panelists, “You can’t do this to my students.”

Three teachers expressed concerns about the reduced number of classes, in particular the noncredit, ESL, GED, art and music classes.

Tyler said that as long as there’s demand and a need for certain classes, they won’t be eliminated.

“Can we do all of the things we used to do? Probably not. Can we do many of the things we used to do? Absolutely,” Tyler said.

The chancellor said they have no agenda to eliminate any department. He said that 709 classes this semester had low enrollment. Of those, just 124 were canceled and 120 had a late start.

Mery said since 2008, City College has been collecting data and outcomes. The current planning process is allowing the planners to connect this data to the budget in order to look at a long-range view.

“We had 18 strategy sessions this week,” Voorhees said. “A good plan has to be a thin and adjustable document focused on two to three main goals.”

Hasson also referred to the ongoing online Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results (SOAR) survey. The survey is located at City College’s Emergency Master Plan web page and is open to the public. About 300 people have responded so far.

“We are collecting as much information and data as we can,” Hasson said.

The survey will provide information to develop the master plan and City College’s future direction.

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