PDCCC to trim staff

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, November 6, 2013

By Stephen H. Cowles

Special to the News-Herald

To adapt to a decrease in student enrollment and funding shortfalls, Paul D. Camp Community College anticipates eliminating approximately five full-time positions, as well as merging the business office with that of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton.

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PDCCC President Paul Conco made the announcement Wednesday to the 3,000-plus students.

None of the cuts will be in the teaching faculty or at the Regional Workforce Development Center, he said during an interview Wednesday afternoon. The reductions will come in the administrative or clerical areas of the college.

“I need at least five full-time vacancies for two years or for the positions to be part-time,” Conco said he told college staff. With the added incentive of early retirement packages, he said he’s already had 10 volunteers and two more have expressed interest.

The offer is limited and those employees wanting to take advantage have been asked to contact Human Resources by Monday, Nov. 18. The candidates’ names would go to the Presidential Advisory Council for a final decision. The transitions would be completed by early January.

“It’s a tough time,” Conco said. “We’ll try to be as kind and generous as possible.”

Of the four full-time employees in the business office, one will go to Thomas Nelson Community College, which will decide about whether or not that individual would come to its campus or work from home or a mixture of both.

“In my vision, this would be a one-time shot,” Conco said about the reductions and merger. He expects the reductions to save PDCCC roughly $250,000 annually.

Enrollment in the past few years has fallen by 5 to 6 percent annually, Conco said, noting that when he was installed as college president in 2011, the enrollment was peaking.

Community colleges actually benefit when an economy is down, because the education they offer is more affordable and students get a greater value for their tuition, he explained. International Paper had closed in spring 2009, resulting in about 1,100 layoffs.

“As the economy gets better, enrollment goes down,” he added, explaining that students are working more but taking fewer credits.

PDCCC is not alone in its actions, he said. Virginia Highlands, Mountain Empire and Southwest, also part of the Virginia Community College System, have already completed similar transitions.