WCCs budget reflects growth, student needs

Published on Oct 28, 2014 10:36am

On The Record

In June, the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees approved the 2015 budget that reflects investments in new academic programs, student counseling, academic advising, campuswide technology improvements and student enrollment and retention efforts.

When presenting the new budget at the June Board meeting, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Bill Johnson described the challenges that many higher education institutions like WCC are facing, including enrollment declines, tightening budgets and increasing demands from the public.

But as a result of responsible spending, the college created a balanced 2015 budget that fully funds a 1.25 percent increase in operating expenditures through sustainable revenue growth.

Among the new academic programs that the budget is supporting is the college’s Honor’s in the Liberal Arts program. This competitive program incorporates an intensive reading and writing curriculum taught by highly credentialed faculty in the personal, small-class setting that characterizes WCC.

“The intent of the program is to provide an academic experience comparable to that at four-year liberal arts colleges, but with the value proposition characteristic of community colleges,” said faculty member and chair of the Social Science department Randy LaHote.

WCC also is offering a new Paralegal Studies/Pre-Law program that prepares students for entry-level positions or further study in the field of law.

“Many of our students want to eventually attend law school but are concerned about the cost,” said Ruth Anne Walsh, faculty member and chair of the Public Services Careers department. “This program provides students with employable skills so they can work their way through law school, and it also provides them with a fallback career in case life gets in the way and law school doesn’t work out.”

Internships that students in the program can participate in offer valuable career networking opportunities that can lead to full-time jobs as well.

The budget also supports a new Facility and Energy Management certificate program that prepares students to manage the energy usage of commercial and residential buildings and properties. Students in the new Engineering Design Technology program will receive an introduction to engineering and design technology, with emphasis on material science and processing.

In addition, the budget is supporting the expansion of WCC’s student support services to meet more specialized advising and counseling needs in the academic divisions.

As Chief Financial Officer of the Ann Arbor YMCA, WCC Trustee Pamela Horiszny is a budgeting and finance expert. “This new budget will ensure WCC can continue to meet the needs of its students and the expectations for excellence of the Washtenaw County community,” she said.

WCC President Dr. Rose Bellanca agreed. “I commend Vice President Johnson and his team and all the faculty department chairs and managers across the college for building and managing a budget that will enable us to better serve our students and better serve our community,” she said.

“The success of our students is our top priority,” said Vice President for Student and Academic Services Linda Blakey. “The new budget directly supports our student success goals.”

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