Posted at 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 2016
College not so transparent
President’s promise of transparency not reflected by actions
President Dr. Joe Schaffer laid out the guiding principles of the CORE Initiative in a memo sent to the Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees on Aug. 17. One of the principles states, “encouraging commitment through transparency, inclusiveness, providing the opportunity to be heard while respecting diverse perspectives.”
That promise of transparency has not been kept.
Wingspan editors requested an interview with Schaffer in the late afternoon of Nov. 7 to ask questions about the draft budget reduction recommendation memo that had just been released. (Information on this memo can be found in Wingspan’s November issue.) The interview was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 8. Administrative Assistant in the President’s Office, Jennifer Thompson, contacted the Wingspan newsroom at 9:06 a.m. Nov. 8 to ask if Wingspan staff still wanted an interview with Schaffer. The Wingspan staff confirmed that they would still like to interview the president. Thompson said Schaffer would like to reschedule the interview for Nov. 14 or 15. Wingspan editors explained that the publication was on a press deadline and needed the interview before the deadline. At 9:35 a.m., Thompson again called the newsroom and explained that Schaffer was cancelling the interview.
Thompson said Schaffer was not granting interviews to any media and wanted to be fair to other media.
Thompson said the only information Schaffer could give was already included in the memo released to the Board of Trustees on Nov. 7.
Throughout this semester, talks of budget cuts, layoffs and reorganization of the college have been heavy, but Schaffer has tried to lighten these conversations by promising to keep the process transparent. After cancelling an interview with student journalists, this appears to be contradictory to his key messaging.
Schaffer’s memo was posted to EagleEye, providing no additional information and leaving a lot of unanswered questions. Some of the questions we could have asked Schaffer in the cancelled interview include:
Why are there no recommendations by the revenue committee in the draft?
What is included in the cuts to operational budgets? Where can we see these cuts?
What is the criteria going forward for instructor release time? Who gets it and who doesn’t?
What kind of ripple effect can the elimination of the science lab coordinator cause to directly impact students?
What does Public Relations and marketing look like after three people are laid off and the department is reorganized to focus more on marketing?
It’s important that our president is available to LCCC student media. We, as well as our readers, deserve the answers to questions we may have, especially during worrying times with budget cuts and the possibility of program eliminations. As student media, we act as a conduit between administration and the student body. We wish to give you as much information as we can about what the administration plans to do with the coming budget cuts, but when there is not as much transparency as promised by the president, then there is little we can do to get you the information.
Additionally, this transparency is important for the taxpayers, as well as donors, both of whom help fund the college. These individuals have the right to know that their college is making financial decisions in an upfront and truthful manner.
LCCC’s mission is “to transform our students’ lives through the power of inspired learning.” For a student journalist, interviewing the president of your own college is a great experience and a huge opportunity – an opportunity that Schaffer decided to cancel. However, this opportunity was granted to members of the Student Government Association, when Schaffer attended a meeting with them on Nov. 17. He’s happy to transform only some students’ lives, apparently.
During a LCCC Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 16, Schaffer questioned Faculty Senate President Rob McNabb about a letter the faculty senate sent him with concerns about the CORE initiative. Schaffer asked about where the faculty senate got its information for the letter four times throughout a 15-minute discussion. It’s clear from Schaffer’s constant questioning that he’s more worried about tracking down the source of leaks, rumors or false information than he is about combatting it with factual information.
Our advice to Schaffer is to embrace full transparency and not run from opportunities to tell his side of the story about the college.