10212017Headline:

Chancellor Davis says “TV Production and Mass Comm programs are NOT canceled”

Editorial by Leonard “Lenny” Vasbinder

If you have been following the breaking story in the past couple of days, you apparently have been a victim of “miscommunication,” just as I and several professors/instructors were as well, according to Delgado Community College (DCC) Chancellor Joan Davis.  Davis used the term several times while apologizing in an impromptu meeting with the large group of students who met at the Student Life Center Wednesday morning before walking to the Administration building (Bldg. 37) to express their concerns about the cancellations.

When the group arrived in the lobby of the Admin building, the receptionist was taken back by the mini-protest that landed at her desk.  A few people signed in and stated that they wanted to meet with Chancellor Davis about the cancellation of the TV Production and Mass Comm programs.  After several minutes waiting, Traci Smothers, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor, came out and talked to the group and led them into a large conference room.  Davis showed up a few minutes later and listened to the initial complaints.

“We had to make some very difficult decisions,” said Davis when explaining that the Board of Supervisors of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) https://www.lctcs.edu/ asked them to make cutbacks earlier this year.  “We took a look and sent a list to the Board,” said Davis.  While the referenced programs were on the list, there are other programs on the list as well and the programs “have not been officially canceled.”  “The Board still has to vote on the final cutbacks and an answer should be coming this Summer,” said Davis.

While apologizing again about the “miscommunication,” Davis said she has not spoken personally to any of the professors or instructors who have come out with the news.  When asked who told the professors the programs were canceled, Davis once again apologized for the “miscommunication” and said that Vice Chancellor Kathleen Curphy was the admin. official who spoke to each of the professors/instructors.  Curphy was contacted by phone for a comment but has not replied as of this story being published.

While I was wearing my “reporter hat” in this meeting and not being my typical “stick-poker” self, as Professor Hague jestingly refers to me, I kept hoping someone would reply, “If there are so many miscommunications going around, it seems that the Mass Communications program is desperately needed in the Chancellor’s Office,” but I only got to think it, not say it.

Mia Ekola, a TV Production student said she started in 2015 and is halfway through the program and has already registered for classes in the Fall.  “I’m an older student so I can’t just start over,” said Ekola.  Chancellor Davis told Ekola and the group “you will get a teach-out program” if you have a year or less left to graduation.  “You need to speak to your advisor on Friday or before they leave for the Summer,” said Davis.

Paula Slumkoski was very outspoken and adamant, wanting answers to the issues.  Chancellor Davis told Paula and the group, “Give me time to correct the miscommunication and to meet with the advisors” and in 24 hours, someone will have better answers.  “Please meet with your advisor before the end of this semester,” said Davis.  Slumkoski stated that she talked to Professor Santos this morning and he told her that he could not give her any information at this time.

While trying to remain calm, Alejandro Fletes told Chancellor Davis that he had a great experience with DCC and is transferring to Loyola University in the Fall but he is still concerned about the programs and his fellow classmates.  “Professor Dunn and Professor Lynn Robertson are great teachers.  If they are gone, then how can the rest of the students get a teach-out program,” asked Fletes.

Chancellor Davis mentioned a few times about cutbacks and at one point, asked the group, “Where do I cut?”  I was able to ask a question and I told the story about how I had to do a math for journalists article as a training article last semester and had to review 10 years of Delgado’s tuition to write the training article as part of MSCM 105 — Writing For The Media.  I told Davis what I learned and that the “cutbacks” excuse “doesn’t fly with me” since I know that the legislature gave DCC and other colleges the right to raise tuition to offset any cutbacks from Baton Rouge so they have not had an actual cut in revenue and that tuition has actually gone up over 100 percent in the past 10 years.  “Funds were not cut but our expenses have gone up, things like benefits, payroll, etc.,” said Davis.

Another concerned student expressed how this was affecting her with her final exams.  “If you’ve been told that you can’t take your finals, that is false,” said Chancellor Davis.  The student said that it’s very difficult to stay motivated to spend hours studying for finals when you know your program has been canceled.

Paula Slumkoski said, “Yes, they are Sweetie. Our finals are affected since our professors are in H.R. right now getting their two-weeks severance pay.”  “We want to stay in New Orleans and work in New Orleans but it seems you all do not care,” said Slumkoski. Slumkoski went on to say that they are claiming that cutbacks have caused the programs to be canceled but “You built building 6.  A new library.  You should have put that money into our programs. Why weren’t we notified of these plans before the final decisions were made?”

After the meeting, moving with the group back to the Student Life Center, several members of the group met with the Student Government Association (SGA) President, Kendrica Garner.  “I am also a student in the TV Production program,” said Garner.  Garner says that as part of her official SGA duties, she will be going to Baton Rouge to meet with the Board of Supervisors on Friday May 5, 2017, and again on Wed. May 10, 2017.  Garner said that she plans to bring up these issues at the meetings.  Garner said that possibly, a large group of students showing up to express concern would be very helpful.  Garner can be reached through the SGA faculty advisor, Michelle Greco, at http://www.dcc.edu/studentlife/sga/citypark.aspx

Tony Cook with the DCC Public Relations office called in response to my message for Dr. Curphy, and said, “in a nutshell, DCC is undergoing a review by the Board of Supervisors (BOS), due to budget situations in the state.”  “Dr. Curphy and the Program Review Committee (PRC) looked over all the programs and determined which of the programs were put on the list for the BOS,” said Cook.  You can read more about the PRC at http://www.dcc.edu/departments/policy-office/forms/programreviewprocedures.aspx

Tony Cook also mentioned that The Dolphin’s initial article on Monday evening was picked up and referenced by NOLA.com-Times Picayune writer, Danielle Dreilinger in her article today at http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2017/05/delgado_layoffs.html “The LCTCS board meets May 10 and the Board of Regents May 22, according to their websites. No agendas have been released yet,” says Dreilinger in her article.

Several students expressed an interest in getting a caravan together to go to Baton Rouge on both dates to show a force to the boards to try and sway them to not vote these programs of excellence in education into extinction.  Please leave your contact information in the DCC TV Group if you would like to join other students, the SGA President, and possibly faculty members in attending these board meetings. https://www.facebook.com/groups/DelgadoVideoTVProductionTheatreDigMediaGroup/

Kristy Smith, an Alumni of DCC, started a petition drive on Change.org where you can sign the petition and leave comments.  The total signers were up to 150 as of publication time. https://www.change.org/p/alumni-dcc-save-delgado-tv-and-radio-program?source_location=minibar

You can contact the involved DCC Admin officials at:

Joan Y. Davis, Chancellor

Phone: (504) 762-3000

jydavis@dcc.edu

Traci Smothers, Executive Assistant to the Chancellor/

Equal Access Equal Opportunity Officer / Title IX Coordinator

Phone: (504) 762-3004

tsmoth@dcc.edu

Kathleen Curphy, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and College Provost

Phone: (504) 671-5420

kcurph@dcc.edu

 

UPDATE May 3, 2017 at 9:40pm – WWL-TV did a report on the controversy as well. http://www.wwltv.com/mb/news/local/orleans/students-futures-in-limbo-with-cuts-looming-at-delgado/436497540

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