Valley is hiring 10 new staff members thanks to state funds sent to every community college in California.
By Edward Segal, Staff Writer
Valley College will hire 10 new staff members using state and federal funding awarded to the Los Angeles Community College District, according to the Valley budget committee.
The budget committee unanimously agreed on the motion, which will hire eight professors and two counselors. According to Howard Levine, the co-chair of the committee, Valley will look to hire as soon as possible, with the new staff beginning as early as fall 2022. According to Inside Higher Ed, the state Legislature proposed to spend $170 million on 2,000 full-time faculty members for community colleges in the state.
Levine says it’s imperative to hire these professors as quickly as possible, since many colleges in the state will receive the money.
“We will be fighting with other colleges for recruiting individuals, so we want to get out early and fast,” said the budget committee co-chair. “If we wait until May to post [the job], then we lose a lot of potential candidates.”
The faculty will teach courses such as anatomy, manufacturing and English as a Second Language, according to Valley President Barry Gribbons. In addition, the college will look to hire an 11th member to teach dual enrollment classes in ethnic studies.
“If we are able to resolve articulation issues and help our local high schools meet the new graduation requirements they have, we anticipate a large increase in demand for ethnic studies in the dual enrollment program,” said Gribbons. “[If that happens] we will hire an ethnic studies professor to help meet those needs.”
Dual enrollment classes were a big factor in keeping the college stable during the pandemic, as class numbers rose by 10 percent from the previous year. According to the committee, this is largely due to the movement of many of those courses online and the amount of options they give students as far as the start and end dates for the class they want to take.
“The [dual enrollment] program grew its course offerings from 49 in Fall 2019 to nearly 100 courses planned for Spring 2022,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs Karen Daar. “LAVC has been able to curate strong partnerships with local schools by providing enhanced enrollment support, offering guided career and academic pathways, and allowing course scheduling flexibility.”
Some members of the committee said that it is difficult to advocate for hiring during a pandemic, when less students are enrolling than usual.
“The money has come directly in a way that has allowed us to fund positions,” said psychology professor Ruby Christian-Brougham, referring to the decline in enrollment because of the pandemic. “Otherwise, given our budget situation and our enrollment, we probably would not be in a place where we could argue for hiring very many faculty.”
The money for the staff comes in permanent funds, but does not cover cost-of-living adjustments, or benefits meant to counteract inflation, for each of the hired faculty members. According to Levine, the college itself will be covering that expense for each staff member.
The reason for the hiring is that the California Community College system wants to have 75 percent of classes instructed by full-time professors. According to Cal Matters, only 59 percent of courses in the state are taught by full-time instructors. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges says that these professors provide many benefits that part-time staff do not, such as availability outside the classroom and greater involvement in their department and school.
Together with expanding dual enrollment, the hiring of full-time faculty is part of the budget committee’s larger plan to help the college recover from the blows dealt by the pandemic.