Monday evening the Paris Junior College Board of Regents approved guidance for the next five years with five new strategic goals. Key to the future of the college, the goals were set to keep PJC on the path to student success, fiscal viability and continued support for the region’s economy.
First and foremost among the goals is maintaining a high quality of instruction. PJC will also increase workforce training in program offerings and number of students, and focus on and strengthen student retention and success. The college will also make relevant technology available for both administrative and student use. The critical need for increasing the tax base to secure the institution’s future was made clear in the President’s Report; the legislature continues to cut state funding while increasing unfunded mandates.
The legislature reduced funding for community colleges statewide by 1.4 percent, or more than $28 million (Editor’s note: PJC first reported 1.7 billion but corrected the numbers). Carrying concealed guns on campus was also approved, though it will not go into effect for the college until the fall of 2017.
“The college CEO is allowed to create common sense regulations and rules to implement the carrying of concealed weapons by licensed holders on college campuses,” said PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin. “Those rules cannot generally prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on a college campus. We can have gun-free zones. I will be meeting with students, faculty and staff this fall in determining that, then bringing the rules to the Board of Regents, who must approve them by a two-thirds vote.”
Block scheduling was also mandated for a minimum of five programs at PJC. This reduces flexibility to meet student needs, most affecting those students needing to work to earn a living while taking classes part-time. The legislature also mandated a new report be submitted each year detailing the number of contact hours and success points at each campus as well as the amount of formula funding and tuition and revenues generated and transferred between campuses.
Finally, though the colleges were told that despite drops in enrollment they would not have their employee benefits funding cut more than two percent, the Legislative Budget Board cut the amount anywhere from two to 15 percent, depending on the drop in enrollment. This means that as a college’s tuition and fees revenue declines, more of the available dollars must be spent on employee benefits mandated by the state. PJC will be cut by two percent in employee benefits funding.
In other action, the Board of Regents:
- Heard in a financial report that while enrollment is down and thus tuition revenue, state funding has come in as expected and expenditures are lower, so the college remains in a good financial condition.
- Received a report on enrollment in the Summer I semester of 1,979 students, showing an 8.8 percent drop in contact hours and 63 fewer students than last year at this time. Some 200 high school students applied for the scholarship providing tuition for one summer class, but have yet to enroll, and still may for the Summer II semester. Dr. Anglin told the Regents that a good economy and people finding jobs generally reduces enrollment.
- Received a report on fall and spring enrollment and retention by course, meaning the student did not drop. PJC is required by state law to receive a complete report on retention for the fall and spring semesters. PJC has a 94.7 percent retention rate college wide.
- Approved the employment of Leanna Roberts as Coordinator of Student Activities, effective July 13, and the resignation/retirement of Instructor of Spanish Kelli Ebel effective Aug. 31, Educational Talent Search Junior High School Advisor Ashley Shew and Student Recruiter/Academic Advisor Shane Rudy, both effective June 26.