GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — Mt. Hood Community College may be cutting seven academic programs.
The college said as part of its Academic Revitalization process, the college reviewed 61 programs and sorted them into one of four categories: maintain, grow, modify or phase out. Seven were chosen to be considered for phasing out.
“We have a financial structure problem in that we don’t get a lot of support from the state and as costs increase,” said President Lisa Skari. “The common place people go is the back of students and if you are trying to keep education affordable, it’s not sustainable.
Skari said the college needs to generate an additional $1.5 million in new revenue as well as make $3.2 million in cuts to address the budget deficit. Decisions were based on enrollment, the number of degrees or certificates awarded, job earnings and other factors. Students were shocked and saddened to learn of the proposed cuts.
“They need to keep these programs,” said student Brice Haney. “Otherwise people might choose other schools.”
“We were all surprised because we thought we had so much community support for this program,” said wilderness leadership student Allyson Haas. Her academic program was on the list of disciplines to phase out. “It’s really heartbreaking—my dreams and my goals aren’t worth it in terms of the school’s financial aspect.”
The programs in the phase-out category are automotive maintenance and light repair, broadcasting, business technology, cosmetology, environmental health and safety, practical nursing and wilderness leadership and experiential education.
“It’s stressful,” said cosmetology student Kelley Fetters. “Especially with our education, our clients—reassuring them that we are going to fight to keep this program because it’s so beneficial for our education, our future, and for our community.”
Other cosmetology students echoed Fetters’ concerns and resolve to see the program saved.
“To have all of the programs be in jeopardy, that truly is sad for the community at large,” said student Stephanie Barber. “Save the programs, modify the things, change them if they need to be to fit, but don’t eliminate them.”
Skari stressed that the proposed cuts would not apply to existing students. Instead the phased out programs would stop admitting new students.
“Any current student we have, we have a commitment to see them through in making sure they complete their program,” said Skari. “We are not going to disadvantage our existing students.”
A board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 20, at 6:30 p.m. While the program cuts aren’t on the agenda, the college anticipates a big turn out for public comment.
The board of education will make the final decisions in December.