Attendees at a brown-bag lunch with President Lee Lambert were expecting to get a glimpse of what the future holds for the college.
to meet on budget
The presidents of Washington’s community and technical colleges will be meeting Friday, Aug. 27, to discuss next budget-related steps.
“The governor told us there would be cuts, then Congress stepped in and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief,” Shoreline Community College President Lee Lambert said at a Thursday, Aug. 26 brown-bag lunch meeting. “Then, a week later, (the governor) came back and said be prepared for cuts.”
Lambert said it appears that higher education will be in for a cut in the range of 4 percent for the current year, ending June 30, 2011. Gov. Chris Gregoire has noticed state agencies to plan for such a reduction starting Oct. 1. She also said she will ask the Legislature to pass additional this-fiscal-year cuts in January.
Lambert described a best-case scenario as near the 4 percent target with cuts in one-time spending. The other end of the spectrum would be cuts of double that number and permanent.
“We’ll know more after Friday’s meeting and I’ll share what I can as soon as possible.”
What they weren’t expecting was Lambert’s vision of how bright that future might be.
“There is tremendous opportunity in front of us,” Lambert said to about 40 people in the Quiet Dining Room in the Pagoda Union Building on campus. Another 20 people participated in the event Webcast via Elluminate.
“The Chinese character for crisis is the same as for opportunity.” Lambert acknowledged that with current pressures on higher education from the ongoing economic downturn, many people are scared. “We’re all scared, but that is an opportunity for those who don’t let their fear take hold of them so that they can’t move. Yes, things will look different, but we will be world-class by seizing the opportunities presented to us.”
To do that, Lambert said, hard realities must be acknowledged and the available technology must be embraced to continue to provide the quality education that is Shoreline’s reputation. “If we do that, we will be here at the turn of the next decade,” he said.
Not just be here, but be here as a college with double the enrollment reaching students around the globe.
“Technology can provide the platform to build a college within a college,” Lambert said, comparing the idea to a store that has a physical location to serve some customers, but also an online, or virtual, store to serve many more. “What if we had a virtual store?”
Lambert said Shoreline’s partnership with Blackboard Inc. is bringing the opportunity to use cutting-edge technology to deliver learning anywhere, anytime. “This is an opportunity for us,” he said. “Students could register, pay and learn and never come on campus.”
Lambert said that can’t be done now at Shoreline or any other community college in the state. “If we do that, I see a bright future and that said, we’re going to double our enrollment and we’re going to do it at a lower cost,” he said. “The only person stopping us is ourselves.”
Lambert said he knows people are tired of hearing about budgets and FTEs. “I hate talking about budgets and FTEs,” he said. “I believe in the liberal arts, but the world shifted on me like it did for all of us. The question is, ‘How can we make it better?’”
A key step, Lambert said, is acknowledging reality, much the way Adm. James Stockdale did during seven years as a POW during the Vietnam War. Coined the “Stockdale Paradox” by author Jim Collins in “Good to Great,” the idea is to avoid setting goals based on conditions you don’t control. Collins quotes Stockdale as saying: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
“We live in an ambiguous world, riddled with paradox,” Lambert said. “Nothing will change that, but if we pull together, we’ll all be better off.”