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Climate change drives enrollment at other community colleges

A couple of days ago, I wrote about a recent study by the consulting firm, Deloitte, which discovered that 4 in 10 Gen Z working adults have already left or plan to leave their jobs in response to climate change. The sane community college administration would take this information and run with it. Earlier today, the Kenosha News published an article about community colleges that are doing just that.

Degree and certificate programs in sustainability, sustainable technology, and programs that reduce the impact of current technology on the climate and environment are cropping up all over the country, and with good reason. Community colleges are able to fill sustainability-focused programs. Better still, there is a robust market for graduates of programs in clean energy, sustainable technology, and green agriculture. Community colleges that don’t have these programs in place are missing out on the opportunities to increase their enrollments and graduation rates, as well as the earning potential and employability of their graduates.

For years, I have called for the WCC Trustees to adopt an Asset Protection policy directed at the President of the college. Such a clause would require the president, as a condition of continued employment, to prioritize the maintenance of the college’s assets. Failure to do so would be grounds for termination.

The college’s “assets” aren’t limited to buildings and tangible property. The term also includes just about every facet of the college’s operations. WCC’s position and good favor in the community would be covered under the Asset Protection policy. A viable catalog of degree programs would be required under the Asset Protection policy. Declines in enrollment or the graduation rate would become grounds for termination. Failure to meet Gainful Employment standards as they will be enforced in 2026 would be a requirement under the policy, too.

State funding for community colleges should be conditioned on asset protection

There is no reason for the Board of Trustees to accept declining enrollment and decrepit degree programs. Likewise, there was no legitimate reason to transition WCC’s status as a two-year school to a certificate school. That very strategy has now placed two-thirds of WCC’s programs in the crosshairs of the Gainful Employment rules. And losing federal financial aid because of these certificates should – in fact – be grounds for termination, policy or no policy.

Additionally, the State of Michigan should attach firm asset protection requirements to every single dollar that the state allocates to its community colleges. If you want state money to build your buildings and operate them, you’re going to take care of the buildings and the institutions. Period.

In the grand scheme of things, WCC is overfunded in comparison to other community colleges in the state. Instead of using the generosity of the county taxpayers to improve the school and thereby improve the County, the WCC administration has wasted millions of dollars in funding on nonsense like the Health and Fitness Center, expanding the size of the administration, and over-compensating the Chief Executive. Our largesse has gotten us shrinking enrollments, failing infrastructure, and a shady agreement to give away our educational resources to a wide range of individuals who will NEVER set foot in Washtenaw County.

Right now, none of the tens of millions of dollars we throw at WCC each year are protected. We need a firm Asset Protection policy and a college administration that can prioritize the needs of Washtenaw County.

Photo Credit: David Goehring, via Flickr