Delgado Kills Its Golden Goose

By Susan Hague

Created in 1921 as a trade school for boys, Delgado is the oldest community college in Louisiana, and two of the feathers in its cap were its TV Production and Mass Communication programs.

In what looks to be a return to workforce training and pure general education courses, these two feathers were plucked and tossed to the wind, ostensibly because it would save the college money. But how much money are we talking about, with a $4 million deficit?

The three faculty salaries of Bob Dunn, Lynn Robertson and myself, Susan Hague, who taught TV and Mass Comm, totaled $146,000, and even including benefits at $13,000, it totals less than $200,000 at $185,000. If you look at what it will cost the college to livestream graduation, on YouTube and Delgado Television Production’s site, it will be $125/hour x 4 people x 4 hours, or $2000 two times a year for commencement. Videotaping and streaming theatre productions will cost $125/ hour X 3 hours X 2 productions per semester, and Public Relations and Marketing will not have TV Production to assist with any photography or videography for Circles of Excellence, or any other school function.

If administrators at Delgado making above $100,000 took a 3 percent cut, it would help make up for the shortfall more than cutting the TV and Mass Comm programs would, but rarely does administration step up to the plate to lead by example, preferring to put cuts on the backs of faculty and students.

And it’s the students who are being told that their TV and Mass Comm programs are not being cut, at the same time that all TEVP and MSCM courses have been eliminated from Fall 2017 course offerings online.  Even though TEVP and Mass Comm program elimination were not on the agenda for the May 10 meeting of the LCTCS board, I received a certified letter and email dated May 11 informing me that the programs were eliminated along with my position.

With no clearly articulated plan for a teach-out, students in the general studies concentrations of TV or Mass Comm are left twisting in the wind if they still need TEVP or MSCM courses, even if they are 50 percent completed or more, because only in programs, not concentrations, are students halfway completed allowed two years to finish the degree.

Back in 2012, TV and Mass Comm were under the Performance and Media Arts degree program, and when it was discontinued, we petitioned to create a Digital Media program in its place, but it was never approved. Instead, theatre, music, fine arts, speech, television and mass communication went under General Studies as concentrations, which was supposed to protect us by providing enough completers, except we discovered we were still expected to track our students and have 10 graduates a year from our concentrations. We still had the expectations of a program with none of its protections for our students, and we had a difficult time knowing which general studies majors were in our concentrations because the printouts did not include that information. We tracked them and advised them from who took classes with us.

Our students are now being asked what other concentration in general studies can they move to, not what they can do to finish in TV or Mass Comm. Delgado still has a La. Transfer degree in Mass Communication but will likely cover the MSCM 101 Intro to Mass Comm and MSCM 105 Writing for Media courses with adjuncts, if those courses are offered at all.

There will be no more Intro to TV Production or any TV courses that gave enough hands-on professional training to students that they often did not finish the degree, but went to work in the industry. No completers counted there.  And the equipment for TV was procured through grants that Lynn Robertson wrote, no cost to the college there. Too bad that the cost for Building 6 was put into the TV budget instead of Business and Technology, where it belonged. Maybe that’s why on paper the TV program looked like a big-ticket item.

No more award-winning Dolphin newspaper, which paid for all its expenses with student fees and ad revenue.  And the radio station, WXDR 98.9 FM, will need someone who knows audio engineering to keep it going and avoid FCC fines. Any costs it incurred were paid for by Student Life or The Dolphin newspaper.  Bob Dunn is still the CEO of the radio station even though his position was eliminated and he was told his services were no longer needed. If they need his services, it will cost the college the going rate for broadcast engineering, about $100/hour, services they were getting for free with Dunn as an instructor on staff.

The decision to cut these programs was based on numbers, quantitative data, not qualitative. Delgado is losing an Emmy-Award winning broadcaster in Bob Dunn, a Fulbright Teaching Scholar in myself, and two Seymour Weiss Excellence in Teaching winners in Lynn Robertson (2009) and myself (2011), not to mention the engagement in the community with Service Learning projects conducted with TV and Mass Comm. students.

The Kafka-esque metamorphosis of community college back to a trade school is underway. It is the end of an era as well as the end of a program for our students. Goodbye, Delgado Community College. Hello, LCTCS Technical College.

From Susan Hague

“Creativity is a force that overcomes all the odds.”
— Walt Darring

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”

What Next?

Recent Articles