Press "Enter" to skip to content

WCC Master Plan Reflects Trustee Disconnections

Yesterday, I wrote about the outcome of the 2022 WCC Trustee election, and what I hoped would come from it. Trustees that bring only the Ann Arbor perspective to WCC’s decision-making process have already derailed the college’s focus on its mission. One only needs to look at the WCC Master Plan to see that.

The WCC Master Plan does not propose any new programmatic investments. It does not address the substantive issues facing Washtenaw County. Instead, the Master Plan prioritizes re-arranging the campus. In fact, none of the Master Plan’s “priority” items involve academics at all.

This is an important distinction. If you look at the Master Plans of other community colleges, you find plans for new academic programs and facilities. In WCC’s Master Plan, you find plans for “Food Options.”

This is exactly the result of having people on the Board who do not understand (or care) that 13% of Washtenaw County’s residents live in poverty. They do not care that 21% of Washtenaw County’s households are headed by single parents. Nor do they care that 18% of Washtenaw County’s households operate barely above the poverty line.

These are all areas in which WCC could play a significant role in reshaping the future of Washtenaw County. Instead, the Administration and the Trustees are focused on addressing such substantive issues as moving the bus route from the front of the campus to the back.

Prioritizing “mixed use development” on campus is quite possibly the most tone-deaf portion of the Master Plan. To divert funds specifically sought (and given) for education to building a hotel and retail spaces goes beyond the pale. This is nothing more than a clownish attempt to generate additional revenue. Meanwhile, the campus is rotting out from underneath itself.

Master Plan, Strategic Plan suffer from the same failures

WCC has so many opportunities to participate in the economic development of the county by making the workforce attractive to new industries. Instead, the Administration and the Trustees concentrate on “food options” and “retail outlots.”

The declining enrollment, the lack of technical investment in Washtenaw County by new industry, and the persistent poverty level here testify to the failure of the “country club” approach to WCC’s governance.

WCC’s annual “Strategic Plan Update” also reflects this inability to recognize and address problems that affect areas beyond Ann Arbor’s borders. The Strategic Plan marginalizes academic activities in favor of things like professional development, organizational health, and visibility and branding. These organization-focused strategies offer little direct benefit for the communities that pay for them. They do not prepare the community to compete for new industries and economic opportunities.

One can always hope that the Trustees recognize the errors of their ways. Failing that, Washtenaw County voters should opt to put more reality-focused Trustees on the Board.

Photo Credit: Stephan Ohlsen, via Flickr