Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Snow College President Does Some Splainin'


by Michael Orton ©2011 ImageProviders
All Rights Reserved

first posted June 8, 2011
latest rev.: June 9, 2011 for vid resolution

Richfield, Utah –

In an age of American austerity, Snow College has been under some serious budgetary and organizational revisions, and Scott Wyatt, attorney and president of the college, was addressing the community about his job. Several in the audience at the Greater Richfield Chamber of Commerce luncheon had recently lost their own jobs at the college, and many of those sat at the rear of the room and wondered what would happen next.

Where funding and programs have been undergoing revision for a number of years even prior to the crash of 2008, and with the relationship with local high schools changing by statute, Wyatt had much to say. In attendance with Wyatt was Marvin Dodge, CFO of Snow College, a two year institution which operates two, pristine and publicly-funded campuses in Ephraim, Sanpete County, and Richfield, Sevier County. Many consider the lower division coursework at the two-year school as a low-cost gateway to upper level degrees at Brigham Young University, a private institution owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Provo. Students also further their studies at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and Southern Utah University in nearby Cedar City.

video

Scott Wyatt, president of the Snow Colleges in central Utah
Hi-resolution version available from ImageProviders.org

The Snow College Richfield campus has existed largely as a technical training institution, with facilities and classes for blue-collar trades. Starting in late 2010, Wyatt began restructuring and many instructors, along with their programs, came under the "reduction-in-force" axe.

Citing an example of the personal nature of his job as an agent of change, Wyatt described the emotional toll this way: "The first year of budget cuts that we took, I'm serving as a counselor in my local bishopric and at the same time, end up laying off seven people in my ward." (Utah's pervasive Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a lay ministry, of which Wyatt is a participant). "It's not unique to the college, it's happening all over the country, and in public and private sectors," he continued.

Wyatt described an "unfunded mandate" handed to the trustees of Snow College, when the Utah legislature combined and reduced the budgets of the two Snow campuses. As state legislators compete to allocate scant resources to their largely republican districts, the pain is both personal and serious when there is no appetite to increase taxes. "I had one [Utah] legislator specifically tell me... my job is to take money away from Snow College, and send it down to the school I care about," said Wyatt. (see video at 05:00 mark)

Yesterday in San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo Colleges announced that they would be originating programs and curricula wholly underwritten and partnered with local industry. When asked about this same model for Snow College, Wyatt responded positively. He equated governmental organization to academic organization, saying "...we [educators] are government, and anytime private industry can do something instead, that relieves a tax burden." From those who provide instruction, as well as from those who consume it, his analogy may meet some critics. Representatives from the Utah Education Association could not be reached for comment before this story was filed.

And... as usual, Pat Bagley hits it on the head:

©2011 Salt Lake Tribune

Post-secondary instruction in the nation is indeed changing, just like the other industries which surround it. Some wonder if educators and their institutions should regard themselves more as an industry, providing a valued service rather than as an arm of government. As a partnership with industry and commerce, the new post-secondary educational model remains to be experienced, as do the implications for learners and their employment prospects.

Hi resolution video available from ImageProviders.org


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