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Degree Completion Highlights CCC Retreat

Second of two parts

Clatsop Community College President Larry Galizio says the path forward is clear.

“Student success and certificate/degree completion is absolutely vital for us to focus on, so they’re going out and getting jobs, and not (just) graduating with debt,” he said. “We need to focus as much of our attention on degree completion as we do access.”

During its board retreat Wednesday, members discussed two big-ticket real estate items: the Performing Arts Center and a future health and wellness center, as reported Friday.

But board members also delved into potentially changing some student policies to promote completion and trying to guess what amount of money the college will get from the state.

Galizio, clutching a report released Jan. 24 by the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment, said the United States is 16th in the world in college degree attainment for people between 18 and 25 years old.

“We want to have mandatory advising, and really intense advising,” he added about focusing students early on a major that interests them, only the specific requirements of completing that major and doing away with the “Chinese menu” of classes. “We already have good penetration in the high schools. The problem is we’re losing students.”

Board member Dirk Rohne said the college should focus on matching students early on with a mentor who can provide accountability to their studies.

“I think we have to remember that most of our students are first-time college bound,” said board member Frank Satterwhite, adding that a student should be linked to his or her adviser throughout college. “What if we required all students to take a class called ‘Career Explorations’?”

Board member Patrick Wingard suggested partnering with advisers from Tongue Point Job Corps Center and WorkSource Oregon, as they and CCC are the three main vehicles in the region matching students with jobs.

Galizio floated a more short-term idea to help students avoid being set up for failure: Not allowing them to register for and start classes late. Students who start later in a class, he said, are less likely to finish it. He added that Klamath Community College uses the practice.

Thinking of ways to motivate the students to finish earlier, the board went over a couple ideas, including rebates to students who finish degrees in three years or less, to give money back to those who graduate early.

Board member Rosemary Baker-Monaghan said giving students rebates is a can of worms that could lead to a discrimination suit. She added that the college should focus on what students’ goals are and getting them to those goals quicker, which will be a money-saving incentive.

Budget assumptions

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s budget proposed $428 million in the next biennium for the Community College Support Fund. This year, the support fund received $410 million, an 18-percent decrease from its high of $500 million in the 2007-09 biennium.

` Galizio said he’s skeptical of the governor’s budget and needs to wait for more information. The college currently receives about 10 percent of its support from the state, with property taxes and students’ tuition and fees making up much of the rest.

“None of us have a crystal ball; that’s the problem,” he said.

Galizio, who served three terms as a state representative, said part of the process is waiting for the budget projections of the co-chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, on which state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D–Scappoose, serves as vice-chairwoman, to see how that compares with the governor’s budget. That proposed budget usually comes out in March.

In the next six weeks, said Galizio, the college will also learn more as to what effect the Affordable Care Act will have on its bottom line.

This story originally appeared in Daily Astorian.

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