The day after College of the Redwoods trustees held a rare meeting in Del Norte, the director of the local campus learned that she would be out of a job at the end of June.
Anita Janis said this week she was informed April 2 that her contract with the college wouldn’t be renewed once it expires June 30. The day before, CR President Kathryn Smith pledged her support for the Del Norte Education Center at the Board of Trustees’ first meeting held locally in more than two years.
Janis came to CR as dean of the Del Norte campus in May 2009.
“I’ve been looking at the numbers and I’m astute enough to know we’ll never have all the money we need to run a college,” Janis said. “Knowing the way things were going, I was feeling like this was coming.”
College of the Redwoods is going through a reorganization and is restructuring its staffing levels to fit the current budget situation, said Michelle Anderson, CR’s executive assistant to the president. But she declined to comment further.
“We’re going through a reorganization and we’re not making it public yet,” Anderson said.
According to Kevin Hartwick, a founding member of CR’s Del Norte Endowment, the college started making organizational changes when the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges imposed “show cause” status on CR, its most severe sanction, in 2012.
In February 2013 the ACCJC removed CR’s sanction, placing the college on probation and tasking its board and administration with ensuring its financial stability. The ACCJC required CR to have sufficient cash flow and reserves to maintain stability as well as document a funding base, financial resources and plans for financial development.
Janis said her title changed from dean to director of the Del Norte campus in July 2013. She said the move to centralize caused CR officials to revise her job title and responsibilities. The college’s decision to allow her contract to expire also stems from the move to centralize, Janis said.
One example of how centralization has impacted the Del Norte campus is the scheduling of classes, Janis said. Previously, the counseling office at the local site would consult with the dean’s office, she said. Now, even though the faculty still has input, scheduling decisions for Del Norte are made in Eureka, Janis said.
“The intention behind that was to increase efficiency; instead of having three different areas doing some activity it’s all centralized to one,” she said. “The two outlying areas go to a primary point for information and work assignments.”
The future for one of those outlying areas, the Mendocino Coast Campus in Fort Bragg, is uncertain. As CR works to address its budget issues, Smith in January recommended suspending operation at the Fort Bragg campus starting next fall.
The president suggested reaching out to Mendocino College in Ukiah to potentially offer classes on the coast. Last week, Smith said she hopes to bring a memorandum of understanding between CR and Mendocino College to the Board of Trustees in May.
News of the recommended suspension of classes at the Fort Bragg campus sparked rumors that a similar proposal would be made for the Del Norte site. Even though the college president said the two situations are completely different, Hartwick pointed out to trustees that the recent changes have compromised Del Norte’s ability to deal with issues at its local campus.
Hartwick said he found out the day after the Board of Trustees meeting that Janis’s contract wasn’t going to be renewed. No other college representatives were told until that day as well, he said, adding that he didn’t know what was going to happen to the Del Norte campus’s director position.
“Administrative things happen within institutions,” Hartwick said. “As far as our community goes, it is absolutely clear that we can’t lose a partner, especially in education because it’s too critical to the process of getting people out of poverty.”
Despite the budgetary constraints, CR’s Del Norte campus has been available and accessible to its students and the local community, Janis said. Working with Sutter Coast Hospital and Rural Human Services, the Del Norte campus has been able to purchase a robot for the nursing department that simulates heart rate, eyes dilating and other symptoms, she said.
The campus has also partnered with Kelly Nolan and Del Norte Reads to help adults obtain their GED, Janis said. Meanwhile, students at the high school level are able to take dual courses and obtain their Associate’s degree by the time they graduate, she said.
“As an institution we greatly appreciate the support in this community for our college,” Janis said. “It is difficult for all of us in the present economic state and it’s important to keep our doors open and be able to serve the needs of the community.”