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In terms of challenges our system is facing, IPEDS data shows that admin. costs per FTE in the VSCS is nearly double the admin. costs per FTE in peer institutions. Where are admin costs, particularly in the central office, being addressed?
The Board should consider at least three tensions, and provide firm guidance of these.
1) Should the campuses be cooperating with each other or competing?
One thing that is missing from the White Paper is a critical eye on administrative costs. How are you going to streamline administrative cost, especially in the non-bargaining unit?
The largest financial issue for the VSC is not mentioned at all, the enourmous over administration in the VSC. In the Sept. Chronicle article, VTC is 12 out of 691 Colleges, all VSC collges in the top 25%.
Is there data that profiles the successful CCV student who has graduated?
2) How will you support an true culture of innovation emerging from the faculty, which is regularly thwarted by status-quo mid-level administrators who are risk averse?
The preparedness of incoming students has been slipping for some years and that rate of change seems to be accelerating. Now that VSC admissions are essentially ‘open’, how do we address preparedness and success without ‘dumbing down’ curriculum? The system as a whole needs to find viable answers. Try harder is not an answer. Do more with less has been done.
3) Will you commit to reducing administrative expenses and shifting the balance to stronger support for faculty?
The VSC currently has twice as many administrators per student as the national average for publically funded colleges.
What is the strategic plan for increasing the VSC endowment? Is there a planned capital campaign or other significant effort to increase non-government revenue for operating costs?
What role did the presidents of the colleges play in the writing of this white paper?
Why have faculty numbers declined nearly twice as fast as student enrollment?
I am curious about a "forecast" of potential BOT actions by December. The overall rhetoric sounds similar to the NVU unification process. What's the overall likelihood of a major BOT decision being made by the end of the year?
If the VSC is going to operate as an efficient and unified system that allows students to take courses across a number of VSC institutions, as well as campuses, then serious efforts need to be made to be sure that courses are offered equivalently across the system. Today, the content of courses and the level of difficulty vary across colleges and campuses even when the courses share course numbers and titles. The current effort to identify ‘equivalent courses’ is insufficient and not a good use of time.
So many of Vermont students are going to college at out of state schools- sometimes paying a significantly less amount. What are you doing to keep Vermont students in state and attract out of state or International student to VSCs?
How can central office administrative costs stay the same if more processing is moved (or moving) from campuses to that central office?It seems obvious that central office is currently understaffed given what they've taken on recently (AP, Ultipro, etc.)
Can we talk about how to build upon our brand? In looking for ways to create access to new students, can we look for them from outside the US? Based on research and conversations with industry relationships, there may be ways to build partnerships with Canadian universities in the Sherbrooke region. (As their students would like access to US employers) Is this something that is being considered?
The alumni of Green Mountain College tried a last ditch effort to get donations. I’m sure you don’t want to cause panic, but are our alumni getting the message of the seriousness of the situation when being asked for donations?
Mr. Pieciak mentioned ‘restructuring’ in the answer about the endowment. What would this restructuring look like?
In the last several years, the share of total expenditures going towards institutional support has increased, while the share going towards instruction and research has gone down. This trend is troubling. How are we supposed to remain vital in terms of our curriculum if all we are doing is cutting and cutting our instruction and losing faculty. A program can’t grow if it doesn’t have faculty to maintain and grow it.
Agreed with the response, but students aren’t helped if the ‘equivalent’ course doesn’t prepare them for coming coursework and their degree.
VSAC: the elephant in the room. If the BOT isn’t advocating for in-state use of state dollars they should be.
The VSC is not transparent in the number and cost of administratrors. Will you post all employee positions and salaries as ALL other state entities do? The Secretary of State's office of Records thinks you are violating state law by not doing so, as this is PUBLIC information.
The White Paper reiterates and updates a message that has been present within the VSCS for well over ten years. In the meantime, potent suggestions and real innovations have received little attention. The BOT, not the Central Office, needs to commit to a supporting a change of internal culture within the admin, staff, and faculty instead of simply putting out financial fires. Think long term: fiscal health will grow from faculty supported innovation.
Forgive me, but the Chancellor sounds defensive. Is this about listening and conversing? Most of us know what you are telling us. A gentle reminder that ‘defense’ isn’t finding solutions.
I think Jeb missed my point ... central office is currently understaffed, and it's affecting campuses.
Portability needs to be discussed, elephant or not. The State of Vermont should require VSAC to use state money to support VT students going to college in state. It is the BOT’s job to advocate for the VSC. They should be pushing the legislature on the portability issue.
Mike Pieciak just said it. Innovation requires risk; but it is not primarily, it is emotional, cognitive, and cultural. The BOT needs to recognize, praise, and value innovation.
… not primarily costly …
The strength of the VSCs is the quality and dedication of the faculty. Classes are smaller and faculty care and we have a real connection to our students. Jeb, you mention SNHU. The reputation of this college is about the same as Phoenix University were quality doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t lower our academic standards to make more profit. Can you commit to maintaining the quality that the Vermont VSC faculty provide to our students?
Speaking of branding... let's help every VSC employee to convincingly communicate the value of college in 1-2 honest and succinct sentences. I just returned from a meeting with twenty smart, 18-24-year old men who are in transition after high school. They are open to college if it means a clear career path that they can understand and envision. But they are savvy about being marketed to, and when they see general education courses or hear about transferable skills, they often feel like it's doublespeak. If we can't communicate our value in 1 sentence, let's re-evaluate how we plan to meet customer expectations.
How can the VSC be the colleges of choices for veterans?
In listening to the responses of Mr Pieciak and Chancellor Spaulding, there does not seem to be much openness to thinking about ways to generate more revenue, support faculty, challenge the status quo in Vermont. If we are truly going to change the landscape of higher education in Vermont, we have to think about more than online classes and cost cutting.
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