Help Wanted: Modesto Junior College to hire several instructors

02/19/2014 7:47 PM

02/19/2014 11:18 PM

Three years after Modesto Junior College laid off instructors and eliminated degree programs to cope with state budget cuts, the college has gone on a hiring spree.

Seven permanent positions, two full-time temporary teaching posts and 60 fill-in adjunct instructor slots are open, according to listings on the Yosemite Community College District website. Columbia College has 33 fill-in positions to staff and one full-time, permanent opening for a math instructor. The application period for full-time positions will close Feb. 28, but adjunct openings can be filled anytime, notes an MJC release.

More instructors are needed for more courses being offered, thanks to greater funding through Proposition 30, MJC President Jill Stearns said Wednesday. Added late-start spring classes remain open for MJC student sign-ups, and hundreds of new courses and classes will be coming for summer and fall. The college has restored some Friday and Saturday courses, popular with working adults, Stearns said, and has expanded offerings in Patterson and for local high school students.

“After too many years of schedule reduction, it is a pleasure to be able to respond positively to demand for courses in our community,” Stearns said.

The most dramatic of those reductions was announced Feb. 25, 2011, by then-President Gaither Loewenstein, eliminating eight full-time positions, several majors and the entire mass communications department to slash $8 million from the 2011-12 MJC budget.

A series of high-profile meetings by the Yosemite Community College District board, a state hearing and lawsuits followed but, for the most part, the cuts stood. The new hires will raise staffing levels, but they do not appear to return the subjects lost in 2011. Majors dropped included journalism, culinary arts (still offered at Columbia College), engineering and dental assisting. Programs hiring one instructor each span accounting to welding, with several spots each in nursing and English.

State funding systemwide fell 17 percent during the recession, but this year’s budget restores funding, with a bump for more students. For 2014-15, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget would give $6.7 billion to the California Community Colleges system, up from $4.2 billion in state general fund money in 2008-09.

“Our summer schedule for 2014 includes more than 100 sections above last summer and is designed to meet both transfer and career training needs,” Stearns said.

Transfer and career training are hot topics in community college circles these days.

More than half of California State University graduates transferred in from a community college, as did nearly a third of University of California graduates. Others complete associate degrees and junior college certificates in fields in which those remain the industry standard. For example, 80 percent of the state’s firefighters, peace officers and emergency medical technicians are community college trained, according to a California Community Colleges 2013 annual report.

This year, a move is afoot to develop four-year degree programs at junior colleges, likely tailoring programs to meet needs in the jobs market rather than competing with traditional university offerings.

Senate Bill 850 by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would create an eight-year pilot program for applied baccalaureate degrees. “It’s something that the CSU and UC haven’t been able to keep up with in terms of demand, and, frankly, they don’t offer degrees in some of the fields where the demand might be,” Block told EdSource for an article published Wednesday.

Nationwide, more than 50 community colleges operate almost 500 baccalaureate programs in 21 states, notes a report released last month by the Baccalaureate Degree Study Group convened in 2013 by the chancellor’s office of the California Community Colleges system.

The report estimates California employers need 60,000 more graduates with bachelor’s degrees each year than the state now produces. The California Community Colleges system has the scale, geographic reach and lower cost structure to meet the need. That said, the report notes expansion would take more administration, and might require changes in cost structure and admissions requirements. The group concluded the idea has merit but stopped short of a full endorsement, saying it needs further study.

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