Linn-Benton Community College students will see a 12% increase in tuition over the next three years, with at least 15 positions being eliminated to help balance the budget.
The announcement came via a letter from LBCC President Greg Hamann that outlined the loss of staff, entire programs and the tuition hike set to be implemented in stages.
"My hope is that this information will eventually help us to take some collective steps toward an acceptance of a necessarily smaller LBCC while remaining united in the mission that we must continue to serve," Hamann wrote. "To this end, these reductions have been made both to achieve the necessary cost reductions and to best position our college for success as we move out of the current crisis. As I shared in my letter to you last week, nothing about this has been or will be easy, but I believe this is our best possible strategy for moving forward and doing the hard work and important work ahead."
LBCC approved an 8% tuition increase in May. In his letter, Hamann outlined an additional 8% increase in 2021-2022, a 4% increase in 2022-2023 and a 3.5% annual increase thereafter.
"While our decision schedule is a bit ahead of the other Oregon community colleges, we believe that this plan for tuition increases will keep us close to the 'center of the pack' in terms of direct student costs," Hamann said, citing the college's commitment to lobby the Legislature to increase funding to programs that could help mitigate the cost to those most impacted by the increase.
The budget model released by LBCC also included the elimination of the school's theater, computer drafting, and water environment and technology programs.
Staff reductions included a total of 27 positions, impacting 15 people. The remaining positions are currently vacant or will be vacated at the end of June.
The changes mark the second round of tuition increases this year. And in March of last year, the college eliminated its horticulture program as well as five classified staff positions.
"As I have shared before and want to share again now, any significant reduction in force is profoundly difficult and painful, and this one is no exception," Hamann said of the newest cuts. "This is most true for the 15 LBCC employees directly impacted by these reductions, but it is also true for the rest our LBCC community as we see and seek to support those coworkers and friends around us who are losing their jobs.
"What is necessary is not necessarily easy, but our ability to continue to serve our mission, our students, and our communities requires that we have a stable financial foundation for this work, and that is what we are working to secure through these difficult actions," he added. "We have difficult and important work ahead, and it is my sincere belief that these actions taken here are necessary for that work to be successful."
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