Guest MINDSETTER™ Seyler: Critical Spending Requires Critical Thinking at CCRI
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Last March I wrote to legislators to express concern at the performance-based funding approach to improving CCRI retention and graduation rates. Concisely, my concerns centered on the fact that we are an open enrollment institution - meaning we have some students reading and writing at third grade levels sitting in classes designed for college ready students - we have approximately twenty full-time advisors for a student population of typically fifteen thousand students, we have no mandatory orientation, too few tutors – all of whom are part time, and Student Disability offices on some campuses staffed at only nineteen hours a week with test proctoring available for as little as five hours a week. My argument then was to give CCRI funding to rectify these deficiencies before holding us accountable for specific performance standards.
It’s slightly less than a year later, and as far as I know, no money has been spent on this kind of student support. Instead, we have experienced a top-down approach of creating and filling an unprecedented number of new and highly paid administrative positions. Especially upsetting is the redundancy of these positions easily seen and documented by some astute faculty.
These previously existing and new administrative positions have job descriptions that include strategic planning responsibilities, yet it has come to the attention of faculty that contrary to our tradition, the administration is in the process of hiring an outside firm for a six-month contract to create and facilitate a strategic plan for CCRI. How many times are we going to pay for strategic planning? We are clearly staffed with administrators and faculty possessing the credentials to do that.
This situation is especially dismaying when our college president tells us we cannot expect the full amount of funds we need from the state in the next few years and we “…need to operate in an increasingly lean fashion…” It is dismaying when a tuition hike has recently been deemed necessary, and this is how the money gets spent, while the need for the hike is publicly attributed to the cost of hiring faculty.
As a taxpayer, I am upset by the ill-conceived approach to spending my tax dollars. As a CCRI faculty member, I am upset by the disregard for the dire need for expenditures in the area of student support that would contribute to improving student success. As a state employee who was told I had to forgo a raise for 2013 and 2014 due to lack of money, I am upset by the prospect of being told that once again at the next contract negotiation because of the current choices creating redundancy and bloat here at CCRI.
This is the one area where budget money is allocated with which I am personally familiar – I believe a series of pieces from people like me –inside an institution or agency – elucidating the approach to expenditures within, would be eye opening for taxpayers. Any takers?
Michele Seyler moved to Rhode Island fifteen years ago. She is an Assistant Professor of English at CCRI, where she has taught for twelve years.
Related Slideshow: The Power List - Health and Education, 2016
Russell Carey - A name few outside of Brown’s campus know, but Carey is the power source at the Providence Ivy League institution.
Today, his title is Executive Vice President and he has had almost every title at Brown short of President. Carey is a 1991 graduate of Brown and has never left College Hill.
While Brown’s President Christine Paxson — who is functionally invisible in Rhode Island — is managing alumni affairs and fundraising, Carey is influencing almost everything in Rhode Island.
Top Raimondo Appointment
Nicole Alexander-Scott - MD, MPH, and rock star in the making. As Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, she is fast developing a reputation as someone in the Raimondo Administration who can get things done. Her counsel and leadership on developing a strategy on opioid addiction has been widely been lauded.
In addition, she has handled the mundane - from beach closings to food recalls - with competency. An expert in infectious disease, it may be time for her to become a strong leader on Zika.
Ronald Machtley - Bryant University's President rightfully deserves to be on a lot of lists, but what few understand is that Machtley’s influence extends far beyond Bryant’s campus in Smithfield. Machtley could make this list as a business leader or as a political force as much as for education.
Machtley is recognized for transforming Bryant University from a financially struggling regional college to a university with a national reputation for business.
Machtley serves on Amica’s Board and the Rhode Island Foundation, and also serves on the Board of Fantex Brands.
Larry Purtill - While Bob Walsh gets the face time as the Executive Director in the media for the NEA of Rhode Island, NEARI President Purtill tends to be the inside man who gets things done.
The teachers' largest union is formidable, but is still reeling from the beat down it took when Gina Raimondo’s pension reform cut the benefits of teachers disproportionately over other employee groups.
Make no mistake about it - not much happens in education in Rhode Island without Purtill's sign-off.
Mim Runey - While Rhode Islanders wait, and wait some more, for development on the 195 land, Johnson and Wale's University's Runey is watching it come to fruition, as JWU is set to open the first completed building on the former Interstate on September 1, when it will host a ribbon cutting for its John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation.
Under Runey, JWU continues to establish its foothold as one of the country's top schools for culinary training. Now Runey will oversee the addition of the new building on the old 195 which will house the university's School of Engineering and Design and its biology program.
In 2015, students from the School of Engineering & Design participated in the construction of the Holocaust Memorial on South Main Street, a collaboration between the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and the Holocaust Education Resource Center of Rhode Island.
A true community partner in every sense, JWU under Runey's watchful eye is expanding to an even greater presence in Providence.
Chairman of the Board
Edwin J. Santos - The former banker is Chairman of the Board of CharterCare, after having been a top executive at Citizens Bank. He has been a board leader for Crossroads, Washington Trust, Rocky Hill School -- you name it and Santos has helped to lead it.
His best work to date just might be at CharterCare, where he has helped the once fledgling hospital (Roger Williams Medical Center) into a growing hospital system.
Weber Shill - He serves as the Chief Executive Officer of University Orthopedics, or in other words, dozens and dozens of oh-so-confident docs.
Shill has a background in Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from the Whitemore School at the University of New Hampshire. Experienced in managing medical groups, but this group is big and influential.
Timothy Babineau - President and CEO of Lifespan, Rhode Island's biggest healthcare organization, where financial challenges make the job that much more complicated.
Now, the critics (GoLocalProv included) are raising concerns about the multi- billion dollar organization's refusal to make any contribution to the City of Providence. Lifespan is like General Motors, big and hard to innovate the organization.
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