Pasadena City College Superintendent President Rajen Vurdien addressed a room of faculty and staff about both the challenges and accomplishments that the institution faces this year at an open forum at the campus’ Creveling Lounge on Tuesday. Looming topics included the issue of PCC’s accreditation probation status, the school’s budget plan and its decision to hire dozens of full-time faculty.
“The most difficult issue is the one about accreditation,” said Vurdien about a July 2015 decision made by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJ) that placed the college on probation due to deficiencies found while visiting the campus during a March 2015 inspection.
The ACCJ told PCC it must submit a report by Oct. 1, 2016 detailing what it’s done to fix the problems that include improving employee evaluations, filling open administrator jobs, and giving employees a say in their professional development, according to an article by Southern California Public Radio (SCPR).
“The timing is coming very close, but we are on target with the report schedule right now,” explained Vurdien about the 44-page report that is available online. “We are putting together the finishing touches.”
The process to redeem a full accreditation status is lengthy. The ACCJ will schedule a trip to PCC in November following the report submission to to determine if the evidence supports what PCC outlined in the document and if they have addressed and ultimately fixed the ACCJ’s July 2015 concerns. The commission will then meet the first week of January 2017 followed by a response in February that will determine the fate of PCC’s accreditation status.
“Everyone has come together to address these issues,” said Vurdien.
The second form of business addressed at the forum was the topic of the budget plan for this academic school year which will be taken to the Board on Sept. 7 and finally submitted to Sacramento on Sept. 15. PCC went without the $12.5 million in state-mandated one-time funds it was gifted last year, according to the campus newspaper the PCC Courier.
“Despite that there is so much money we see coming from the state, this budget will be showing some kind of a deficit because it’s not that state is not giving money, it’s that the state wants to make sure that people don’t get used to the fact that money is coming every year. It’s an on-going source of funding. We need to learn to live within our means,” said Vurdien about the pressure the State is putting on the college to yield results from funding.
The sales tax portion of Prop 30, the school-funding measure also known as the Educational Protection Act (EPA), will expire in December costing the college over $1 million, according the PCC Courier.
PCC has hired 61 new faculty members with a full-time status with five being temporary hires for a year, according to Vurdien in regards to the record hiring spree. The new hires and their health and employer-mandated costs account for over $6 million in ongoing expenditures and totals almost half of PCC’s expenses, according to the PCC Courier.
Vurdien said he is is excited about the college’s efforts to hire full-time faculty and stated that is presents diversity and a new approach to saving money that arises from hiring adjust, or part-time, faculty.
“We have done a wonderful job when it comes to hiring,” said Vurdien who said that the demographics of the newly-hired PCC faculty hires are 17% Asian and Pacific Islander, 17% African-America and 23% Latino.
Vurdien also touched base on PCC’s role in the growing Dual Enrollment Program in the PUSD which gives high school students the opportunity to take college credited courses by PCC to fast track their college career before they graduate high school.
“Our goal is to continue to figure out how those classes fit on a pathway for students to earn a degree,” said Vurdien.
The President’s Forum was a precursor to Friday’s PCC 2016 Annual Convocation where Vurdien and other college leaders will further discuss the road ahead for PCC in further detail. Featured speakers include individuals from the Academic Senate, the PCC Board of Trustees, the Faculty Association and more.
The PCC Annual Convocation will kick off Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at PCC’s Sexon Auditorium located at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
For tickets, go to www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-annual-convocation-tickets-27155167838.