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ACCS to hold big vote

By Stephanie Nelson

The Brewton Standard

The Alabama Community College System will vote today on the administrative and programmatic consolidation of Jefferson Davis, Faulker State and Alabama Southern community colleges.
The vote is the latest step in the move that would place the three colleges under the new Coastal Alabama Community College name in an effort to save revenue while providing quality educational opportunities.
Dr. Gary Branch, Faulker and CACC president, said Tuesday if the measure is approved, life on the individual campuses will not see significant changes.
“For students, things will basically stay the same, but with a few more benefits,” Branch said. “One of those is that there will be one schedule for all three campuses, which gives students more flexibility and more classes to choose from, as well as programs that might not have been offered at their home campus.”
Another added benefit would be the option to participate in the federal student loan program. Currently, Faulkner participates in the program, while JDCC and ASCC do not.
“For students who may not qualify for financial aid or who may not be able to attend school otherwise, the federal student loan program is a lifesaver,” Branch said. “A number of our students utilize the program, and the moment the consolidation happens, that option will be available to all students in Brewton, Atmore and Monroeville. Plus, it will help with recruitment of new students as well.”
Branch said he believes new student recruitment and adding needed programs is crucial to system growth.
“My No. 1 goal is to grow enrollment,” Branch said. “The way we do that is to offer students and the community what they need to be successful, be it workforce development, an arts program or other classes.”
In terms of personnel, Branch said there will no longer be a president at each individual campus. Instead, a current employee, under the title of “provost,” will be given the day-to-day duties of running the campus.
“The way we are going to save money is by not replacing a president and through evolution, not replacing duplicate instructors,” Branch said.
There will be no instructional changes, and no one is slated to “loose their job” as part of the consolidation, he said.
“This process is going to be a challenge,” he said. “But, it’s my plan to grow this new college to the best of my ability.”
After today’s vote, the measure must receive Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) approval, which is expected to come in early December with a January 2017 implementation date.