Guest Perspective by Eloy Ortiz Oakley & Lou Anne Bynum
June 4th, 2013 – We write in response to a recent Long Beach Business Journal article regarding Long Beach City College’s decision to discontinue its aviation maintenance degree and certificate programs. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional information to your readers.
The decision to discontinue programs was lengthy and involved input from a wide range of stakeholders after extensive public notice and discussion. The decision to consider program discontinuance was announced publically on August 16, 2012, and discussed at length during several Board of Trustees meetings leading up to January 23rd, 2013, when the decision was made. It received broad coverage in local media in these months, including stories in the Long Beach Business Journal, and was discussed widely on campus.
Every affected program was given the opportunity to make a presentation to the Board of Trustees in public meetings and, as a result, the Board heard testimony from affected faculty, members of the community and hundreds of students who attended the meetings. Additionally, each program has an industry advisory committee that meets on a regular basis. It is the responsibility of the faculty to inform and communicate with their industry representatives about proposed changes to a program. Faculty members in the Aviation Program were notified in August of 2012 about possible program discontinuance and presumably would have shared this with their industry advisory panels. In the course of community input throughout the fall, the Board did hear from a number of industry representatives who spoke to various programs being considered for possible discontinuance.
Beginning in December – before the decision was made – and continuing through today, college officials have had discussions with local representatives in the aviation industry to explain the reasons why this decision was made and to explore other ways to develop and deliver new training programs to meet aviation industry employer needs. Those conversations will continue in coming weeks and will hopefully result in the development of new training opportunities that meet industry needs and fit with LBCC’s new financial reality. LBCC continues to have a very serious commitment to CTE and will be working the next academic year to better align current and new program offerings to key industry sectors in our regional economy.
It is important to keep in mind that the decision to discontinue programs was driven by years of budget cuts from the state. Nearly a third of course sections have been reduced at LBCC since 2008-09 and more than 5,000 students remain on waitlists for courses today as a direct result of the funding reductions which cap the number of students we can serve. Statewide, over 500,000 students have been shut out of community colleges. In this context, the decision to shift resources away from programs that met several discontinuance criteria – including high cost, low productivity and low employment demand and job growth, for example – to programs which serve the needs of a greater number of students is sound policy.
You have our commitment that LBCC will continue to invest its resources into programs that will help the greatest number of students possible to learn the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century economy.
(Eloy Ortiz Oakley is superintendent-president of the Long Beach City College, and Lou Anne Bynum is the college’s executive vice president, college advancement and economic development.)