College of the Redwood president candidates make their cases

April 11, 2007 11:00 pm
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By Thea Skinner

Triplicate staff writer

Three presidential candidates fielded questions and made comments at public forums earlier this week.

All eyes were on John Madden, James Sorensen and Paulette Perfumo. Each candidate spent about an hour visiting with the community at the college.

Manage funds wisely

Madden stressed the importance of managing funds wisely.

"It appears you are chasing enrollment with your dollars. I have not seen the macro report yet, but this can lead to an environ ment of worried personnel," Madden said during his visit on Monday.

His expectations involved talking with almost every faculty and staff member and in "phase two" utilizing "knowing the experts" that he talked to. "I want to include everyone in the planning phase," Madden said.

He suggested that the college be flexible in meeting state standards in employment.

"Every site needs core services across the board. It is the law, so you have no choice. You need to structure yourself to do it," he said.

Madden has worked with two tribes. An obstacle was the tribal parents lack of educational preparation, he said.

"They did not have enough support networks. It requires student-to-student mentors," Madden said.

He advocated enlisting a young tribal member as a recruiter that tribal youth can relate to culturally.

The forum discussed expanding Internet services.

"TV is an old media. Internet is the way to go," he said while pointing to the college's existing distance learning by TV.

"Our concept is hybrid combining in the classroom experience with the Internet.

"Its easy for Charter people to influence others based on the fact that this institution gets money. It is in the provider's (Charter) best interest to do this. You just have to talk to them."

Solve media problems

Sorensen, the college president at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore., has been involved in dual responsibilities at colleges in Idaho and eastern Oregon.

While working with student services under a "learning for learners" philosophy, "I had 120 people able to rebuild relationships, Sorensen said.

He was successful during a Idaho Migrant Council partnership.

"We lost 33 percent of our general funds and 22 percent in other funds, but we still managed to increase students," Sorensen said. "In northwest Washington we worked some with tribes, but the primary number of tribal people are in other areas of the state."

He assisted in creating Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Wash. "as a stand alone institution, so that they would feel that they have their own say," Sorensen said. "I follow about five deans when I go into these positions."

He explained that he was able to create a report that was required within 60 days after filling a position.

He cut about two people that could have retired. "A lot of the changes were made through retirement," Sorensen said. "Overall, 19 were replaced."

"Making money has to be related to education and helping students to succeed," he said. "You need to solve some of your media problems. Meet goals and budget them, then you can focus on increasing numbers of students."

He worked with three grants – one a Title III grant, which is a $1.6 million federal grant to start an institutional research office awarded to the College of the Redwoods several years ago.

Importance of relating

Perfumo is the former superintendent-president of the Solano Community College District in Fairfield.

In that position, she had to cut $6.9 million out of a budget.

"Four years later we hired one administrative person back," Perfumo said. "The challenge was to grow enrollment by 5 percent in one year.

"I held campus forums and put together a think tank group."

"I had to get a background and talk to different people. One of the things I hear is the importance of transparency and relating to each other."

Other initiatives she has been involved in or created include:

•Faculty called the On-line Pioneers that utilized an Internet blackboard, which is a Web-based learning platform colleges use

•E-college partnership

•Gear Up Program involving sixth grade through high school students to get financial aid

•Vision 20-20 plan involving many communities, students, and businesses to redefine a master plan

•Trio program grant designed in 1970 to motivate students from low income backgrounds, in which College of the Redwoods awards to 200 students every year

•Title III grant money

•Retention task force and newsletter

•Interstate Bargaining involving looking at things as a group

After these initiatives, the enrollment percentage challenge was exceeded. "Our numbers went way up," she said. "We grew by six percent. It is easier to retain students that are already enrolled."

She suggested changing the definition of classified employees to help the college meet state standards in employment.

Reach Thea Skinner, economics and youth reporter, at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it