New Interim Vice President Tackles Precarious Funds

Michael Konigsberg
El Vaquero Staff Writer

New interim Vice President of Instructional Services Steve White began this spring with one challenge: to keep vital campus programs that are threatened by California’s budget crisis.

White, appointed to office by college President Dr. John Davitt, said the programs that have faced possible downsizing are CalWORKS, Matriculation Services, Staff Development, and Technology and Telecommunications Infrastructure Program, or TTIP.

Gov. Gray Davis has proposed slashing 90 percent of the $500,000 available for CalWORKS, the “Welfare-to-Work” program, which at GCC coordinates work-study, job placement, childcare, post-employment skills training, and curriculum development. This money, White explained, cannot be replaced. Without it, most of the 18 classified 1,000 student workers hired throughout the school year paid with it would be eliminated.

Matriculation Services, which supports all services to move students from admission to GCC through college orientation, assessment, and counseling to matriculation at a major college or university, has received $1,013,443 this year, but could loose a large portion of that. Staff Development could not give faculty and staff the chance to upgrade their skills via workshops, conferences, and GCC schooling toward additional degrees without the $70,813 received this year. And TTIP, which furnishes California community colleges with electronic resources, would also stand to lose out $312,155.

All these programs could live to some extent without full funding, said White, but clerical support would suffer greatly in amount and quality.

“Posed with fixed costs, inflation and continuing student enrollment, the college must find solutions soon,” said White.

“When the electric bill [comes], we can’t just turn off the power,” he said. “Cutting programs and services for students must be avoided at all costs. Everyone here hates it, and we’re all really worried.”
And while White and the college administration may dread vanishing resources, they still intend to bolster student programs including Study Abroad, PACE (Project for Adult College Education, an AA degree program designed for working adults), and Scholars Program; to improve technology education; and to update curricula and certificate programs to fit students’ futures.

It is hoped that Bond Measure G will keep sufficient funds coming to campus. White said he worked every day since his first day in office to ensure its passing.

In addition to trying to save these programs, White faces other concerns. For example, Dean of Non-Credit and Adult Education Lani De Vincentis, has announced she will retire Aug. 1, according to White. Two other deans, whom White declined to identify, have indicated they may leave at the end of the school year as well. New personnel might test the consistency of an administration well versed in the needs of student services.

Despite the many challenges that lie ahead, White said he was pleased that he was appointed interim vice president. He also said he was shocked to be offered the position. Other deans who had worked for former Vice President Christopher McCarthy, who left office in December, had had more direct job experience, so White believed his “outsider status” might preclude him from the position. However, his efficient management of the division of Social Sciences – the largest academic division in the college – and his dependability gave GCC President Dr. John Davitt hope that his appointment would bring some stability.
“He’s doing a great job. I’m pleased to have him here,” said Davitt, who cited White’s experienced problem-solving skills as his strongest asset.

He was an assistant professor of economics for 15 years before his two-year chairmanship of GCC’s Social Science division. Originally hired as vice president for a maximum eight-month term that began Jan. 1, White will now hold office until July 2003.

White feels optimistic. He is hopeful that constant pressure he and the rest of the administration have been applying to the state government will pay off.

As for putting on what he likes best about his new job, he smiled. “Great office, eh?” Then, gesturing to the window, he said, “I can look out at the students. I like to be able to help them.”