To: Astorian Newspaper
From: Eldon Russell
Letter to the Editor
HELP SAVE CLATSOP COMMUNITY COLLEGE
As a Licensed Maritime Captain and Licensed General Contractor with over 25 years’ experience in each field, I would like to share my insight and thoughts about the current issues at Clatsop Community College. The two issues I have the best first-hand knowledge and experience in are the Maritime Expansion Project and CampusNexus / Anthology the colleges’ ERP that has not worked correctly since its implementation two years ago.
The College had an 8 million dollar grant from the state to fix the leaking Maritime Building located at the MERTS Campus by putting a second story over the existing building but needed to raise matching funds dollar for dollar. Those funds had an expiration date of July 2020 and with the new seismic codes the existing building foundation would not meet code. Thus, an option of building a new building became a second choice. The college hired a firm to determine what funds could be raised by private donations. The firm identified possibly 4-6 million dollars. With the state matching 6 million dollars that would put the total funds available for the project at 12 million dollars. I was a part of the design committee and everyone at the MERTS campus remained committed to building only what we could raise funds for (no going into debt). After an Architectural Firm was hired, I was shocked that the cost of the building they designed was 22 million dollars and had none of the exterior design aspects the committee discussed, or the cost cap that was discussed. When I raised these concerns with the Architects in a meeting, I was overruled by our President saying, “I do not know much about these things, but it looks good to me” then a Board Member who was present said “I am onboard with the design let us move forward”. The list of deficiencies and waste are too long to list here but the building would have had leaking issues and would stand out like a sore thumb at the MERTS Campus. If this building is built as designed, the costs would be detrimental the Maritime Program at MERTS and CCC. This building represents the vision of one board member and not the personnel at the MERTS Campus. I have attended college board meetings and presented concerns about the building design, materials and costs with only one board member (Tim Lyman) being concerned and researching the issues. I feel that my concerns, even with my strong construction and design background in the pacific northwest, has fallen largely on deaf ears in favor of one board members agenda.
The issues with enrollment at the college go beyond COVID-19. Students were told to go on-line to register, and when they tried to register the system (CampusNexus/Anthology) did not work and there was no support for them to enroll, they got frustrated and many enrolled with other colleges which made it easier to enroll with an ERP system that was working properly. During this time, it did not matter where students enrolled as they would be taking classes on-line. This system was purchased by the college knowing that the vendor had no experience with this type of ERP specific to the college needs. The college staff and faculty have spent numerous hours in ZOOM meetings attempting to make this system work. The system continues to have problems. Faculty and Staff have both sent a vote of no confidence in CampusNexus/Anthology and were promised at the December 2020 board meeting that if CampusNexus/Anthology was not completely fixed by February 2021 that the college would begin changing direction and moving away ASAP but that has not happened, CampusNexus/Anthology is still not completely fixed. A lot of time and effort has been spent by the staff at Clatsop Community College for the last two years to make the program work. I believe the taxpayers of this county and the staff at CCC deserve more from their hard-earned tax dollars.
I was born and raised in Astoria, attended Clatsop Community College and teach the Maritime Science Program at the MERTS Campus. The time for change is now, we need new board members who will ensure that the financial decisions being made are sound and in the best interest of the college and its programs. Please join me in voting for Trudy Van Dusen Citovic, Patrick Preston, Suzanne Iverson and writing in Michael Balensifer for Zone 3, Position 5.
Maritime Science Instructor
Clatsop Community College