Peninsula College slashes positions, programs
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Peninsula College massage therapy student Marisa Christopher, left, practices her bodywork technique on fellow student Jamie Rychlik on the campus Tuesday. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

PENINSULA COLLEGE'S PROPOSED CUTS by the numbers:

■ Full-time positions eliminated: 17.

The cuts would be made through seven retirements, four resignations, five layoffs and not renewing a contract that expires June 30.

They are two faculty positions — in the massage and English programs — eight office support staff, two maintenance support staff and five administrative positions.

■ Part-time positions eliminated: four.

The cuts would be made through the loss of the massage program and an administrative assistant position in the Bachelor of Applied Science program.

The college currently has 8,737 students and 723 employees.

Enrollment would be reduced by 50 full-time students.
PORT ANGELES — The state's budget ax is once again falling on Peninsula College.

In response to an expected loss of 
$1.7 million in state funding over the next two years, the college plans to eliminate 
17 full-time positions, five part-time positions and its massage and fisheries associate degree programs, as well as reduce annual enrollment by 50 full-time students.

The college eliminated nine positions in 2009 in the face of $1.5 million in cuts.

The cuts, announced to staff members Friday, are based on Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed budget and may change depending on what measures the state Legislature passes.

College President Tom Keegan said the purpose of the cuts, to be approved by the board of trustees, is to avoid reducing the quality of college offerings.

Trying to protect quality

“We are not going to sacrifice quality, and we're not going to sacrifice academic rigor as we cut the budget,” he said

“However, with cuts of that magnitude, something has to give.

“And what's going to give is access.”

The cuts involve the loss of two faculty positions — one in the massage program, the other in the English Department.

The English faculty member is retiring, Keegan said.

No faculty cuts would be made at the college's locations in Port Townsend and Forks, he said.

Cuts to enrollment and classes come at a time when more people, mostly unemployed, are seeking a community college education, Keegan acknowledged.

“My preference is to serve every citizen of Clallam and Jefferson counties who wants to come here,” he said.

The 3-percent reduction in enrollment will be made through the loss of the fisheries and massage programs, as well as reductions in spaces available with the college's “adult special interest courses,” such as basic computer classes.

Massage program

No new students will be accepted into the massage program.

The program, which would technically be suspended, has 13 students, each of whom will be allowed to finish their classes, said Aleilah Lawson, program coordinator.

The Fisheries and Aquaculture Program would be eliminated immediately.

The program's one faculty member, Jack Ganzhorn, will teach other science classes, Keegan said.

Some fisheries-related classes will still be offered under other programs, but there won't be a degree or certificate.

Ganzhorn is on sabbatical, and none of the program's classes have been taught this year.

The fisheries degree has been offered at the college for decades, at least since the 1970s.

Keegan said those two programs were selected because they have a “higher cost,” in terms of the ratio of students to teachers, than others.

While the massage program has had solid enrollment, the fisheries program has languished, with only seven students enrolled last year, he said.

“It's pretty much been in single digits in the recent history,” Keegan said.

One pink slip so far

Keegan said the cuts will go into effect in July, the beginning of the budget cycle. But one employee has already received her pink slip.

Lila Morris said she was notified last Wednesday that she has two weeks left as assistant to the director of the Bachelor of Applied Science program.

“We knew that somebody, that people were going to get laid off,” she said. “We didn't know who.

“I was hoping it wasn't me, but I guess it was.”

Keegan said Morris' job is one of the five part-time positions being eliminated and the only immediate layoff.

The BAS program's director is retiring, and that position won't be filled, he said. Those duties will be handled by other staff, Keegan said.

The other four part-time positions being eliminated are in the massage program.

Three would lose their jobs in July, Keegan said. One would stay on until the last of the students graduate, likely in spring 2012, Lawson said.

Lawson said she was more saddened than disappointed to hear her program would be suspended.

Massage therapy, she said, has shown to be a good career for the unemployed.

“You can train for a great job in nine months,” Lawson said.

________

Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 01. 2011 11:11PM
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