Washtenaw Community College has the sixth-largest total operating revenues among all Michigan community colleges. While generous funding can be a huge potential plus – especially in our current situation – WCC’s large budget requires extensive, consistent Trustee oversight.
Currently, the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees approves every item placed in front of it. That’s not oversight. It just isn’t.
That leaves WCC vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse, largely because the Board of Trustees has checked out. Instead of doing their jobs, the Trustees absurdly proclaim that they are there to give the College President advice.
“Trustee McKnight-Morton spoke about the presidential search committee that had diverse people on it. She noted that the current board is an advisory board and a policy board, not a micro-managing board. President Bellanca is being a change agent as the Board has directed her.”
Taxpayers elect trustees to provide oversight, not advice. The Trustees take an oath of office when they assume their responsibilities.
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of member of the board of trustees according to the best of my ability.”
Nowhere does the oath say anything about dispensing advice. No one votes for a Trustee because they believe he or she will provide better advice than the other candidates on the ballot. Trustees are in place to WATCH THE MONEY.
We need Trustees who understand their mission
As a result of this abdication, we have a community college with a large budget and no oversight.
What could possibly go wrong?
The WCC Trustees’ novel approach to oversight has created a structural deficit. The structural deficit results from:
- Diversion of operating revenues for capital debt
- Deprioritization of campus infrastructure maintenance and repairs
- Pursuit of revenue-generating schemes unrelated to WCC’s core mission
- Significant expansion of the size and cost of the College administration
- Careless spending decisions that inflate expenses
We need Trustees who take their oath of office seriously, and who understand why the taxpayers have elected them to serve. Washtenaw County taxpayers deserve Trustees who focus on enabling WCC to fulfill its primary mission. We need Trustees who are less focused on generating alternative revenue and more committed to overseeing WCC’s large budget.
There is no substitute for oversight. In the next 6 years, Washtenaw County taxpayers will send about $400M to WCC. Do we really want to leave that much money running unattended?
Photo Credit: zeevveez , via Flickr