Umpqua Community College’s board of directors unanimously approved a reduction in force during Wednesday’s board meeting, which was streamed live on YouTube.
A reduction in force means that positions will be eliminated permanently. It was not immediately made clear whether those included part-time, full-time, administrative or other positions.
Director of Human Resources Kelley Plueard suggested the reduction in force was “due to financial impacts caused by the impact of COVID-19.”
Plueard said the coronavirus “will result in a major reduction of state allocation” and an anticipation that enrollment will decline.
No discussion was held on the topic, but after the vote, Board Chair Steve Loosley said, “We’re very sensitive that these are real people that have served our college for often a number of years. It’s really with a lot of sadness that we have to vote to do this. We’re real sensitive to that, it’s really sad. It’s not something that we consider lightly.”
Board member Randy Richardson requested to move a copier contract from the consent agenda and into the regular agenda so board members could have a chance to discuss it.
The college proposed a 5-year, $430,000 contract that would save UCC an estimated 47% in comparison to its current contract, according to the information presented to the board.
However, due to the reduction in force and changes that were made in education at the college as a result of coronavirus, board members asked the college to renegotiate the contract.
“The technology side is radically changing and we’re dealing with potentially reinventing the way the college operates, a 5-year contract on what appears to be legacy technology bothers me,” board member David Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn also expressed dissatisfaction that the board did not hear the full discussion from the committee that brought the contract to the board. “I want to hear the discussion,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, the board voted to re-elect Loosley as board chair, Guy Kennerly as vice chair and Doris Lathrop as the college’s representative to the Oregon Community Colleges Association.
UCC President Debra Thatcher, who has announced she will retire at the end of the next school year, received what Loosley called her fourth consecutive outstanding performance review. She was evaluated by the board of directors prior to the start of the meeting.