Eastern moves onward and upward: Strives to keep tuition affordable ‘for the people’ - Eastern Arizona Courier: Safford News

Eastern moves onward and upward: Strives to keep tuition affordable ‘for the people’

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Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 4:00 am

At its first meeting of the scholastic year, EAC’s governing board focused on continued improvement in areas of curriculum, professionalism, fund acquisition and even the ground’s aesthetic quality.

The college’s financial report and vouchers, presented by Executive Vice President Brent McEuen, outlined revenue sources and expenditures for both tax-supported funds and auxiliary funds.  

Though the county’s tax capacity has proven inadequate to completely fund the college, EAC strives to supplement with equalization aid, which is state-subsidized financial support, so that its tuition remains affordable. McEuen reminded board members, “Community colleges are colleges of the people and should remain as such.”

Following the presentation of the college financial reports and vouchers, reports were provided by Chairman Richard Mattice and President Mark Bryce on behalf of the Arizona Association if District Governing Boards/ Arizona Community College Presidents council (of which Bryce is chairman), Dean Michael Crockett of the Greenlee County Advisory Committee, Senior Dean Stephen Cullen of Gila Community College, executive director Udall of the eastern Arizona College Foundation/ Alumni Association, and a special report was given by EAC Faculty Association President Wayne Flake.

Flake’s address to the board expressed appreciation for the consideration shown to the staff and faculty at EAC, followed by a vote of thanks on behalf of faculty member to the administration and computer department for their efforts at helping to modernize Eastern’s campus, and simplify the workload of faculty and staff members.  

Flake informed the board about community activities in which he and other faculty members plan to engage during the 2012-2013 year, including Relay For Life and South Eastern Arizona Clean and Beautiful.

Brent McEuen then presented for approval his budget development guidelines, a breakdown of the top nine areas in which funds should be designated for the 2013-2014 budget, as well as a brief clarification of each area’s importance.

McEuen’s budget breakdown

Educational program support was marked as paramount as long as EAC wishes to remain a valued member of the community.  Since the balance between Graham County’s tax base and the college’s equalization aid depends on the institution’s ability to facilitate programs that will produce an economically viable work force, investment in the curriculum must be a priority, according to McEuen.

Education program enrichment entails the maintenance of up-to-date training in all educational program areas.   McEuen stressed that since technology continues to advance at astronomical speeds, the college must obtain and understand usage of the most modern equipment, to remain competitive as a business.

Maintenance and upgrade of facilities is important as well, because as McEuen pointed out, the aesthetic value affects public perception and, in turn, the college’s ability to attract prospective students.  Additionally, as the student population grows, additional facilities will become a necessity.

Development and maintenance of technological resources to support information technology is crucial for institutes of higher education, according to McEuen.  Creation of learning opportunities for distance learning through electronic course delivery systems should be expanded, technological infrastructure enhanced and classroom learning improved though updated technology and lab equipment, McEuen reported.

Professional representations, staff development and staff remuneration are also vital aspects of a thriving community college.  McEuen stated that additional training and renewal of professional development should be a priority because higher quality educators equals higher quality education for students.  He also suggested that staff salary level should coincide with those at other community colleges throughout the state, within reasonable limits.

McEuen highlighted the importance of maintaining a steady rate for tuition and fees, keeping them aligned with the average of the Arizona Community College System.  He pointed out that keeping these rates low contribute to the college’s appeal and competitive edge in the community college arena.

Finally, McEuen expressed concern for the district’s tax rate remaining at its current level, to ensure that the college will continue to receive legislative support for full funding of equalization aid.  The term “equalization aid” refers to the state financial assistance provided to the college according to the equalization component of the state’s aid formula.  Because the amount of funding provided by taxpayers in this area is insufficient to fully fund the college, it is dependent on funding by the state for a significant portion of its budget.  

Therefore, remaining abreast of any changes in related legislation and having representation prepared to lobby for the college’s interests would prove a worthy investment.

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