Over objections from most of the faculty, the Baltimore City Community College Board of Trustees unanimously voted Tuesday night to eliminate 14 degree programs in an effort to streamline courses.
BCCC President Carolane G. Williams said following the meeting that the plan — which will also cut nine faculty positions — was an effort to promote "student success."
By eliminating some programs and consolidating others, she said, the school can use the money to expand high-demand degrees, such as cyber technology and nursing.
She said the consolidation of degrees would also benefit current students in that they will need fewer credit hours to earn a degree or transfer to a four-year university.
For students moving into the work force, the changes will help make their degrees more well-rounded, Williams said. She cite combining the medical, legal and business secretary programs as an example of the program's consolidation. Students before took separate classes to earn different degrees, but now they will take combined courses and get experience in each field. "It helps make those students more employable," she said.
As for the cuts, Williams said "this is a process that needed to be done." While she said she was aware of the faculty objections, she said faculty members were aware of the plan almost a year in advance.
"It's just a matter that this is a hard decisions," Williams said, adding that state funds are shrinking.
At the meeting, which was standing room only, five faculty members were permitted to speak before the board for two minutes. All of them said the plan was not properly vetted before reaching the trustees.
Faculty member Cynthia Webb, a program coordinator in office administration, said she was required to participate in a summer planning committee that looked at ways to reduce the number of programs and their credit requirements.
"We were basically told if we didn't do it, it was going to be done," Webb told the board. While she said most faculty members agreed that some programs needed to be re-evaluated, she said the administration's method was wrong.
In a statement, the school's faculty senate said there was "no fiscal crisis to justify program deletions."
While only 14 programs are being eliminated, Webb says the consolidations affect 63 programs enrolling about 7,000 students.
Faculty members say the president has failed to follow procedure by not getting plans approved by the faculty senate.
Webb said the changes were not clearly communicated to students, though current students will be able to complete programs that are being discontinued.
"The committee this summer didn't recommend any of this," said Arthur Kohne, a coordinator for the emergency medical service program, adding that the faculty did not have input until the decision was made.
Williams and faculty members have clashed in the past. In November, the faculty voted no confidence in the president.
Following the decision, board chairman Garland O. Williamson said that some of the frustration was attributed to "growing pains."
"Change may cause some angst, but we're moving forward" he said, adding that the school has been slow to evaluate programs.
"We struggled with how we were going to do this," he said. "The process could've been better."