The fate of athletics at Chattahoochee Valley Community College was the concern most expressed during Wednesday night’s public hearing to discuss its planned merger with two other institutions.
And a Phenix City lawyer who played baseball for CVCC was the chief cross examiner.
Central Alabama Community College president Susan Burrow conducted the hearing. She will be president of the yet-to-be-named regional community college consolidating CVCC and Southern Union with Central Alabama by July. She tried to assure the approximately 50 folks in the auditorium of CVCC’s Instructional and Performing Arts Center that:
· Although the regional community college will have one name, each campus will have its own name. Whether it remains “Chattahoochee Valley” or becomes “Phenix City” or something else, Burrow said, “there will be representation from your community in that process.”
· Regardless of where the main campus will be located, Burrow said, “the reality for me as the president is to represent the entire 11-county area. If there are events and initiatives that we’re driving right here in Phenix City, it’s my responsibility to be here to see about those things. … My model of administration is going to be decentralized. … The main campus, while it’s a big issue for some people, is not going to impact the way I administer this college.”
· As for athletics, Burrow said, “you can breathe a sigh of relief.” She hasn’t heard any discussions or anything from the chancellor “that would indicate anything less than whole-hearted support for athletics, short of some big change in the state. Beyond that, I’m committed to athletics,” she said. The National Junior College Athletic Association will allow the regional community college to have three separate memberships, she said, “so we can continue our athletic programs just like they are today.”
Probably not exactly.
Burrow acknowledged she expects the schools will need to have one mascot, one logo and one set of colors. “That’s a matter of economics,” she said.
Jamie Graham, who challenged Russell County District Attorney Kenneth Davis but lost the March 1 Democratic primary election, objected to Burrow’s rationale.
“I’m having trouble accepting that from a board that didn’t consult the community first,” Graham said.
“Well, it won’t be the board making those decisions,” Burrow replied. “That’s what this conversation is about. We need to hear that. We want to hear your input, and we need to look at that. We need to look and see: Can we move forward with three different mascots? Do we need one mascot? Those are decisions that need to be made, and I know we need to make them soon.”
Graham countered, “I think everybody here wants them to stay the same.”
Three months ago, the Alabama Community College System board of trustees approved the merger of seven institutions into two regional campuses. The board governs the state’s 25 community colleges and technical schools.
All seven of the institutions will remain open, but their administrative functions will consolidate to save money. CVCC, which opened 42 years ago and now has about 1,650 students, will merge with 1,700-student Central Alabama Community College, which has locations in Alexander City, Talladega, Childersburg and Millbrook, and 4,500-student Southern Union State Community College, which has locations in Wadley, Opelika and Valley.
Jefferson Davis Community College in Brewton, Alabama Southern Community College in Monroeville and Reid State Technical College in Evergreen will merge with Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette.
Burrow also addressed what will happen to the CVCC and Southern Union presidents, who are the interim leaders of their institutions. They will return to their previous jobs, she said, or be reassigned by the chancellor. CVCC interim president Mark Ellard was executive vice president at Bevill State Community College in Sumiton, where he also was interim president, before he took responsibility for CVCC in September.
Officials handed out a “stakeholder input” form to those in attendance. Mark McGhee, executive assistant to Burrow, told the Ledger-Enquirer copies of the form should be posted on the homepage of each college’s website by the end of the week.
If you want your comment to be considered in the naming of the regional college, McGhee said, you should submit it by March 31. Other issues, such as athletics, will be decided later, he said.