January 20, 2006

Commentary:

Cuyamaca College Stands on Its Performance

By Jan Ford

We, the faculty at Cuyamaca College, understand the frustration of our colleagues at Grossmont College at the loss of their president, Ted Martinez. We feel compelled, however, to correct the serious misinformation presented about our college in the recent “Commentary on the Firing of Ted Martinez” (January 6, 2006) by Grossmont College Academic Senate President Beth Smith. Consider the achievements of Cuyamaca College in recent years. (All of the following is a matter of public record.)

• Because Cuyamaca has qualified for state matching funds, we have managed to use Prop R funds to meet our current students’ needs while receiving only $75 million relative to Grossmont’s $105 million. Yes, this is an “extraordinary” achievement, but not the “extraordinary share” Smith describes.

• After a decade of bursting at the seams, Cuyamaca College is thus able finally to meet the pressing needs of our students. Today we have only 41% of labs needed to meet state guidelines. Far from building frivolously as Smith describes, even with our new buildings we will come to only 87% of the state mandate. The buildings have been approved and are partially funded by the state in order to meet these existing needs. Rigorous criteria have insured that the facilities are appropriate in size and scope for the campus based entirely on current population.

• “R for repair” was indeed one of the slogans used in the bond campaign, and both campuses have put these funds to good use renovating existing facilities. The wording that appeared on every ballot also clearly listed all of the new-construction projects at both colleges;

• Credit enrollment at Cuyamaca College has increased dramatically in the past ten years, growing more than 50%. Even more impressive, we have grown from 2,907 full-time equivalent students in 1994/95 to 5,422 in 2004/05, an 87% increase. Yes, both district colleges have seen a slight decline in recent years that mirrors numbers statewide. This decline is due to funding shortfalls and a 118% increase in student fees.

• Cuyamaca College’s non-credit programs benefit taxpayers of all ages, along with vocational programs, associate degrees, and transfer programs. Non-credit courses are an integral part of the legally mandated mission for all California community colleges, and Cuyamaca’s are fully compliant with state regulations.

• Cuyamaca College has always operated well within the boundaries of its district-adopted budget. In all California community colleges, fees charged to students cover only a tiny fraction of operating expenses; the balance is provided primarily by state funding. To say that a public college operates “in the red” is a misleading, inaccurate metaphor for the way they all work.

• The difference in per-student cost between Cuyamaca College and Grossmont has been steadily declining, specifically from $460 per full-time student in 1997/98 to $134 in 2004/05, an astounding 71% drop. This impressive progress is attributable to the increased enrollment at Cuyamaca College over this time period.

• The Cuyamaca College budget per total full-time student has increased by only 26% while Grossmont’s has increased by 44% during this time period.

These remarkable achievements have been made under the leadership of Cuyamaca College President Geraldine Perri. She has done an admirable job of assuring that the educational needs of all citizens of East County are met. She has worked within her budget, increased enrollment, ensured the integrity of all of these programs, credit and non-credit alike, and has maintained the validity of the degrees and transfer opportunities at the college. By any measure Dr Perri is not only a successful college president but an outstanding one.

Jan Ford is President of the Academic Senate, Cuyamaca College

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