Officers attending: Pam Chambers, President; Cindy Beckett, Vice President, Fred Thomas, Secretary
Senators attending: Jim Brooks, Susan Callender, Frank Clay, Myra Grinner, Kenneth Melendez, Jackie Myers, Nick Reeder, Shari Rethman, Marti Shapiro, Marsha Wamsley, Charles Williams
Senators not attending: Ellen Rosengarten
Others attending: Bill LeJeune, Laurel Mayer, Steven L. Johnson
Pam called the meeting to order at 2:35 in Room 6142
1. College-wide Planning Initiatives (President Johnson)
Pam welcomed President Johnson to the meeting and explained that he would be sharing information and ideas about possible changes in Sinclair’s role as a regional community college.
President Johnson distributed a draft agenda from the Board of Trustee’s advance of January 24th (attachment FSMA20040128-01A). He described how the Board had initially planned to focus on high school partnerships during its advance, but decided after reviewing an extensive range of materials to make regional planning the major focus of its discussions. Board members are well aware that there has been extensive discussion in other groups about regional government, that 30% of Sinclair’s enrollment is from outside Montgomery County and that Sinclair has been approached by representatives from several adjoining counties about how the College could play a greater role in serving their residents. The Board advance included a presentation by Tony Zeiss on the experience of Central Piedmont Community College in regional expansion and presentations by representatives of the Ohio Board of Regents and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office about the regulatory environment on this issue. There was also a panel discussion with representatives of the Greater Dayton YMCA, Warren County Community College District, Middletown Regional Hospital and other regional players.
In describing the presentation by Tony Zeiss, President Johnson said that Central Piedmont CC in Charlotte, North Carolina, had expanded from one campus to seven, while keeping the central campus strong and while maintaining both enrollment and the mix of students. One difference between Sinclair and Central Piedmont is that the population of the Charlotte region is expanding, while the population of the Dayton region is shifting but not growing.
With regard to the regulatory environment, President Johnson explained that the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR), not the Ohio legislature, formed Sinclair. Although our service area is now Montgomery County, this could be changed by OBR without the need for legislative approval. Counties are the smallest unit in designating service areas for community colleges. Clark State CC’s service area was designated by the legislature as Logan, Champaign, Clark and Greene Counties. Shelby, Miami and Darke Counties are assigned to Edison State CC. Clinton County is part of Southern State CC’s service area. Preble and Butler Counties are not now assigned to any community college. Warren County has just created its own community college district for planning purposes, but it is not yet clear if that will result in the formation of a new college.
President Johnson said that for planning purposes it is widely assumed that 3% of a region’s population will be enrolled in a community college. On that basis Montgomery County is nearly saturated, but the surrounding counties all have lower levels of higher education than does Montgomery. There is a major push from Governor Taft to raise Ohio’s level of higher education to the national average, and this will require a 25% increase in college enrollment during the next 10 years. President Johnson and many others are arguing that this growth should be achieved by using community colleges as the cost-effective door through which people enter higher education.
President Johnson emphasized that Sinclair has always been close to the community it serves and that this tradition should continue. He discussed a series of three regional maps (attachment FSMA20040128-01B) that show the location of Sinclair and other educational institutions in relation to potential student population centers. Because of shifting population and other factors, the College has bloomed in recent years to become a de facto regional provider with 30% of the enrollment from outside Montgomery County. About 95% of Sinclair’s enrollment, however, is still from within a 20-minute drive time of the campus. Twenty minutes is about the limit nationally for the distance that students are willing to travel to a community college.
One important challenge is coming from the possibility of two new campuses in Warren County, one a health education center and the other a more comprehensive community college. These campuses would be likely to draw students from southern Montgomery County, as well as from Warren County. Officials in Warren County are pushing for Sinclair to participate in development there, but they intend to proceed with or without Sinclair’s participation. Several people in Columbus are uncomfortable with adding a new community college organization in Warren County and are pushing for Sinclair to be the provider.
In part because of Warren County’s example, people in Greene County are also expressing interest in having their own community college; however, Greene County is officially in the service area for Clark State CC. The Greater Dayton YMCA is an important advocate of integrated regional centers that include expanded health and education facilities, and they are particularly interested in partnering with Sinclair to provide better services in Preble County. There has also been discussion about Butler and Warren Counties joining to construct a 12,000-student community college campus.
In addition to the regional challenges, President Johnson explained that Sinclair continues to face major space problems on the downtown campus. He distributed a summary of space capacity scenarios (attachment FSMA20040128-01C) and described the dilemma faced by the College with regard to parking. Just to fix the current shortfall, Sinclair needs to add 1500 new parking spaces. The necessary parking garage is estimated to cost $40 million and Sinclair now has just $10 million that could be used for the purpose. Parking in suburban areas would not require a parking garage, and the cost would be $4 million, not $40 million. There is also concern that expenditures on the scale required to accommodate current and future students on the downtown campus could leave Sinclair overbuilt, particularly if other colleges take away students. This could lead to a very serious decline for the College. We are now in a position similar to that of the US automobile industry in the 1970’s, in that Sinclair has a limited window of opportunity in which we can select our future from a position of strength.
President Johnson reviewed some of the major reasons that Sinclair has been reluctant in the past to consider such alternatives as a hub-and-spoke system of campuses. Many people are very proud that Sinclair is located in Dayton while transcending the specific neighborhoods. Everyone comes to the current campus equally, rather than going to a campus that predominantly serves specific racial or ethnic groups. There have also been concerns that several scattered campuses would be less cost effective or have more difficulty achieving the critical mass needed to keep certain programs going. Another concern is that Montgomery County voters might feel the levy is being misused if Sinclair were to expand beyond the county.
President Johnson reported that the Board of Trustees set three priorities at its advance:
(a) continue to strengthen relations with high schools and bridge gaps in all ways possible, especially with Dayton Public Schools,
(b) continue to work with Warren County on how to provide services in general education and some targeted career programs, and
(c) investigate the creation of a full health care program in Warren County.
President Johnson emphasized that the issues are still under discussion. He also said that expansion might be achieved by establishing branch campuses near the borders of Montgomery County but still within those borders. He strongly emphasized that Sinclair will not abandon its downtown campus, although a decrease in enrollment of about 4000 students at the downtown campus might let it shrink to match the space currently available.
President Johnson went on to explain that about 100 community colleges nationally are larger than Sinclair, but most of these are multi-campus colleges. Multi-campus systems in other states generally do not have higher costs per student when compared to single-campus colleges. A possible scenario at Sinclair could involve branch campuses with 1000 to 3000 students each, offering general education and developmental courses plus entry courses for some career programs. Many specialized and advanced courses would continue to be offered only at the downtown campus.
Shari asked if there was any research available about how far students would drive to finish a degree, after beginning at a branch campus. President Johnson replied that he was not aware of specific data but that establishing brand loyalty was an important factor in convincing students to continue at Sinclair. He mentioned that the Houston Community College system tried to expand using only high schools and other facilities. That effort failed, and Houston is now struggling to build its own branch campuses. He also added that a multi-county levy vote is possible, with the outcome determined by a simple majority of all voters. Such a multi-county vote would involve important risks.
Fred said that faculty at university branch campuses often have a lower status and are less involved in many activities than faculty on the main campus. He asked about the operational procedures that could prevent this occurring at Sinclair branches. President Johnson replied that the problem at universities is largely a result of their research emphasis. The universal emphasis on teaching at Sinclair makes the distinction between main and branch campuses much less important. He also said that teaching provided by Sinclair branch campuses would probably adhere to the same 60:40 ratio of full-time to part-time faculty that applies on the downtown campus. Several Senators who currently teach off-campus agreed that this did not limit their full participation as part of the Sinclair community.
Shari asked about the status of the Research Park as a possible model of a branch campus. President Johnson answered that the park has not yet become a major center for extensive instruction. Cindy noted that Research Park in North Carolina was a much larger regional project, and asked about the likelihood that Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati could cooperate on a similar scale. President Johnson replied that there is currently no major movement in that direction. Pam added that Chancellor Chu has said Ohio institutions “don’t play well together” and need to do so more.
President Johnson emphasized again that any change in Sinclair’s role as a regional provider is still under discussion. He asked Senators also to provide suggestions for immediate ways to deal with parking and other capacity problems. He noted that Sinclair is already the top ranked college in Ohio in its space utilization, but suggested that improvement was possible through scheduling more classes on Friday or in other ways.
Cindy said students prefer two-day a week classes over Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, but that it might be possible to shift to a schedule that emphasizes two-day combinations other than Tuesday-Thursday and Monday-Wednesday. Classes might be scheduled, for example, as Monday-Thursday, Tuesday-Friday and Wednesday-Saturday. Frank, Shari and Cindy noted that a change to alternative scheduling systems such as this would also require significant changes in support systems.
President Johnson asked about the direct support provided to faculty by the office of the Vice President for Instruction. He noted that the VPI’s office has an extremely large number of responsibilities and wanted to know if there was a need for organizational change.
Laurel replied that the addition of Sue Merrell and Jennifer Kostic has greatly improved the academic support structure, but that there is still a need for additional staff. President Johnson said that the VPI office already has a larger staff than any other VP office.
Shari said that the VPI is extremely busy, to the point that it is difficult to schedule interviews with job candidates and to handle other matters. President Johnson suggested that some of the hiring and other decisions now made by the VPI might be handled by Deans. If Faculty Senate supported decentralization, the College could make it happen. Ken, Pam, Cindy and Susan reinforced the idea that the VPI’s office is generally functioning well but that there could be improvements in efficiency and in the visibility of the VPI.
President Johnson commented that Sinclair has an organization structure that worked well 10,000 students ago, but most community colleges Sinclair’s size have multiple VPIs. There may need to be an administrative reorganization.
Susan said that it is important to be more effective in bringing the new wave of faculty at Sinclair into the College’s culture. President Johnson mentioned African American Awareness Week as an example of activities at which administrators and faculty could interact more than in the past.
Pam thanked President Johnson for meeting with Senate, and President Johnson extended an invitation to Senators and other faculty to contact him about these and other matters.
3. Minutes from Jan. 14th
Deferred to Feb. 11.
4. Changes to Handbook Section 2.4.5 and Pay Sheets
Deferred to Feb. 11.
5. Open Forum
Deferred to Feb. 11.
The meeting adjourned at 4:45.
Submitted by Fred Thomas
Approved by Senate, Feb. 11, 2004