In an effort to cut about $2 million from its 2013-2014 budget, Long Beach City College announced that they would discontinue 19 programs, including photography, welding, recording arts and aviation maintenance, and eliminate up to 30 full-time teaching positions.
Over 200 students, employees and supporters gathered at the LBCC Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Sept. 25 at the Liberal Arts Campus with signs and posters in hand and several of them lined up to talk to the trustees when the floor was opened up to the public.
“I am here today to demonstrate to you the importance of photography in our society and for the need of the photography program here at Long Beach City College. Photography is the most widely observed form of communication in the world today. One cannot go through a day without seeing a photograph or an image just the way you can a painting or a sculpture.
Photographs are everywhere: from billboards and posters to newspapers and magazines, websites, businesses,” LBCC student and photography major Christopher Serrano said during Tuesday evening’s meeting.
“It also has many uses such as advertising, fashion, fine arts, documentation, celebration, photojournalism and entertainment. Uses for photography are so vast that the jobs for the future are going to be directly or indirectly associated with photographs and photography. This is where the LBCC program is vital in training students such as myself and these fine people out here,” he said as he pointed toward the crowd of supporters.
The process of deciding which programs are done away with is determined by a planning committee made up of LBCC faculty, staff and administrators. That committee then developed a criteria guideline on how to choose which types of programs could face elimination.
“We're serving less students and we haven't changed our expenditures but, the reality is that our revenues are not going to go back up to where they were three years ago so we have to adjust our operating budget to reflect the reality of our current revenues,” LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in an interview with the Long Beach Post.
As for the elimination of faculty, several students took to the podium and spoke about one of their beloved mentors Sports and Wellness Specialist and Intramurals advisor Walt Webber.
“For the past six semesters, LBCC has been my home and through out the duration of being here I’ve met thousands of amazing people that have helped turn my life around. People I call my LBCC family. I’m here to address the board on the classified positions being eliminated from Student Life. At the last board meeting you all voted to eliminate the intramurals advisor position. We feel that our traditions were taken away. The reason we feel this way is because Walt Webber is part of our family,” LBCC student Kimberly Thomsen.
She added that Webber has been around for several years and has instilled empowerment, education and traditions among the students and clubs at the community college.
“He’s worked countless hours with students to keep our LBCC traditions alive and I understand the dynamics of the college is changing, but our culture should live forever. We students need our backbones. We need our Student Life classified support staff,” Thomsen said as her voice quivered.
In a August 2012 budget memo, LBCC Vice President Ann-Marie Gabel said, “The estimated maximum amount of cuts that we plan to make for the 2013-2014 fiscal year will be $8.4 million.”
These cuts, referred to as “program discontinuance,” are in addition to the $5 million cut in Spring 2012 that resulted in the layoffs of 55 employees and reduction of 96 classified positions.
Other programs that are in danger of being eliminated include air conditioning and refrigeration, auto mechanics, auto body, carpentry, computer proficiency for academic success, diagnostic medical imaging, diesel mechanics, film, human services (alcohol and drug services), interior design, medical assisting, physical geography, radio and television, real estate and sheet metal.
There are currently about 26,000 students enrolled at LBCC and most of the programs being cut are only offered at the Pacific Coast Campus.