LACONIA — Seven full-time faculty members and two non-teaching staff members are being laid off from Lakes Region Community College. The staff reductions were made in response to declines in student enrollment, a spokesperson for the state's community college system said yesterday.
Shannon Reid, director of communications for the Community College System of New Hampshire, said that the lay offs were implemented on Monday and will become effective in late June or July 1, depending on the position.
"In order to balance the college's budget, they needed to reduce expenses," said Reid. She said that at Lakes Region Community College, as well as at many of the other schools in the community college system, enrollments for the Spring 2015 semester did not match projections, leading to a shortfall in revenue. The layoffs, she said, were necessary to prepare for the possibility that enrollments will continue to slump in the coming semesters. "We are the stewards of public funds and student tuition dollars. We are responsible for a sustainable cost structure."
Prior to the layoffs, Lakes Region Community College employed 36 full-time faculty, 100 adjunct faculty and 38 non-teaching staff members. No adjunct faculty were included in the layoffs, said Reid, noting that the part-time adjunct professors help the college adjust to what she called "elasticity of enrollment."
Many of the seven community colleges including in the state system have experienced low enrollment and will also experience staff reductions, said Reid. She said layoffs would be made to programs that had seen weak enrollment, yet she declined to say which programs at LRCC will be effected by the layoffs, explaining, "I don't think it's appropriate to be that specific."
Dave Pollack, a professor of psychology at LRCC, said he wasn't shocked to hear that there would be staff reductions within the community college system. However, he was still surprised to learn on Monday that he was losing his job. "I've been teaching there for 10 years, I love teaching there. I would say that I did a good job for them."
Pollack, who in addition to psychology teaches courses in philosophy, sociology, government and law, didn't think that budgets or declining enrollment were to blame for his job being reduced. Yes, there was a slight drop in enrollment lately, but over time he said enrollment in his classes had been stable. Instead, he saw the reductions as a transition toward a different form of instruction.
"They laid all of us off to replace us with adjunct faculty. They have recently given large raises to the chancellor, the members of his staff in Concord, and to all of the presidents of the colleges. I believe they've spent nearly four million dollars in an upgrade to their Banner software. One might question where their values are, whether they're in software or people."
The college system had been moving toward a model of centralized, online education, Pollack said, an initiative he saw as for "no other reason than to reduce faculty members."
"I think they devalue full-time faculty. I think they believe they can get the same value from adjunct faculty. Obviously, I would disagree with that. I've been an adjunct. I know the difference."
Reid said the college system is "focusing efforts on growing programs where there is strong enrollment and industry demand." She also referenced the dormitory project being build near the LRCC campus, which will provide housing for out-of-state students. "We're really focusing on those areas where we can grow enrollment."
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