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Cosmetology, practical nursing, broadcasting and wilderness leadership among those to go

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mt. Hood Community College plans to end seven programs including its wilderness leadership and experiential education. Mt. Hood Community College is planning on closing seven of its smaller career programs including cosmetology and broadcasting.

Automotive maintenance and light repair, business technology, environmental health and safety, practical nursing and wilderness leadership and experiential education are also on the chopping block.

"I was flabbergasted. This is unconscionable," said Linda Fleshman, director of the practical nursing program.

"This is crucial to this community," she said of the program.

Wilderness leadership and experiential education student Maya McKelvey said she personally won't be affected by the cuts, but "this program means a lot to all of us. We think this is extremely important to the college."

McKelvey said she plans to speak to the college board of directors at the Wednesday, Nov. 20, meeting.

"We are a little bit emotional right now," McKelvey admitted.

These programs are not part of the larger, well-known programs at MHCC. For example, auto maintenance and light repair is not part of the robust auto programs known as Chrysler MCAP, Ford ASSET or Subaru-U.

Likewise the licensed practical nursing is not part of MHCC's highly-competitive nursing program that is connected with Oregon Health & Science University.

But the one-year certificate LPN program yearly sends 24 to 32 licensed practical nurses out to work in clinics, hospice programs, home health care, long-term care facilities and other places, Fleshman said.

The only alternative for students interested in this program would be to go to a for profit school at more than twice the price, she said.

"I don't think they had the right data," Fleshman said of the MHCC committee that evaluated the programs.

The phase out of any program will go before the MHCC District Board of Education for consideration. The announcement did not indicate a time frame for the end of these seven programs.

If a program is phased out, the college will work to assist students in completing their academic goals, the college said in a statement.

The college said it "has been engaged in a transparent, data-based, student-centered, equity-based revitalization process to provide students with the education they need in order to succeed."

Despite the claim of transparency, wilderness student McKelvey said the director of her program didn't know about this until days before the formal announcement.

The "academic revitalization" review that led to this decision was initiated by MHCC's board of education. The review looked at 61 instructional disciplines and programs, the announcement said.

A team of full-time and part-time faculty, classified staff and instructional deans, developed the process and the four categories in which disciplines and programs could be placed. Programs could either be maintained, grown, modified or phased out.

"The process looked at both quantitative and qualitative data including a review of enrollments over the past five years, number of degrees or certificates awarded for each program, earnings/jobs of economic value for completers, narratives from faculty, as well as the credentials relevance to its specific industry or business, to name a few," Alfred McQuarters, MHCC vice president of instruction said in the announcement.

On Friday, Nov. 8, the college told faculty and staff how their programs were classified.


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