Lassen College board conducts self-evaluation, discusses future goals
According to board president Chris Click, the overall results were good.
“My personal observation is that this is a substantial improvement from the previous board self-evaluation; I think we certainly captured some of the broader goals,” said Click.
LCC President Douglas Houston said he is proud of the board’s accomplishments and ability to keep the best interests of the school in mind while looking forward.
“I am extremely pleased with your performance and the responsibility and civic-mindedness you bring to your roles as trustees, and that is why I believe you have been effective as a board,” Houston said, addressing the board directly.
“You have put foremost the needs of this community and the college,” he said.
The board also addressed individual submissions from each trustee suggesting potential avenues the college might look into pursuing.
The issues raised covered environmental, financial, aesthetic, vocational, science and residential management aspects of the campus.
Student trustee Christian Younger brought up the need for a campus-wide recycling program, an idea that was well received by all members of the board.
“It is important that the campus community get involved in recycling; it is unbelievable how much paper is wasted,” said trustee Sophia Wages.
Wages cited several community colleges in California that have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by recycling, not only paper, but also plastic, glass, and aluminum waste from the cafeteria.
Alternative energy options were also discussed, including geothermal heat and solar and wind power.
“It would be fantastic for the future to utilize solar energy,” said Younger, referencing the fact that Butte College has seen a one-third electric cost savings since installing solar panels, according to Houston.
Younger added that despite its’ controversy, wind power is another great option for the college to save money and become more environmentally conscious.
“There certainly is a great need for that,” said Younger.
Click discussed what he sees as a need for the campus to greatly reduce their water use, mainly due to sprinkler systems used to maintain a lush lawn in a dry climate.
“Water is going to become a valuable commodity, and there has to be a way to make better use of the environment,” said Click.
Houston acknowledged the need for what he calls “environmental stewardship,” on campus, and listed several changes that could be made to conserve water, including more effective irrigation control systems, smaller patches of grass, and plants that thrive in a drought atmosphere.
“It is possible to redesign campus to become better stewards,” said Houston.
“My concern is that we are not setting a great example for the community,” he said.
Trustee Tom Hammond brought up complaints the school has received concerning customer service and administrative staff.
Houston said he has received “occasional misgivings” about customer service in front office and administration, but that feedback on counseling staff has been positive.
Robert Hill referred to the problems as a “disconnect with common courtesy and communication,” and as something that should be taken care of immediately.
“I think that we have been turning away students, and that saddens me,” said Click.
Houston acknowledged the issue, and promised to take every action necessary to correct it.
“There are some issues there, but we have identified the problem and are working on a solution, he said.
The board discussed bringing in customer service training for staff, and using comment cards and random phone surveys to stay connected and receive feedback from students.
Houston also touched on the issues of enrollment and program growth in light of the state economy and the college’s finances.
“While the enrollments are up, we are not growing fast enough to overcome the impact of the state’s budget shortfalls. We expect mid-year cuts to funding, probably greater than the cuts we suffered last year,” he said.
Houston said the board would have to consider their own reductions, but only to those areas that will not reduce services for students.
The trustees also recognized a need to aggressively pursue new programs and expand those in areas where there is still unmet need by moving existing faculty and staff to assignments that will serve students in new areas.
Several members of the board acknowledged rumors in the community that LCC classes are not accredited.
“It is critical that we set the record straight that the college remains fully accredited and that we are making solid progress on the Accrediting Commission’s recommendations,” said Houston.
The trustees ended the meeting with the recognition that it is the responsibility of the board to educate prospective students and the community on both the value of a college education and of pursuing a college education locally.
“Economic and workforce development forecasts all point to the need for advanced education in the future job environment, and the trustees believe that our college provides not only the quality education that will serve this community well in the future, it also provides the best value for local residents,” said Houston.
The next regular meeting of the Lassen College board of trustees will be held in the “N” board room of the LCC campus, at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 12.
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