Victoria College officials to raise tuition, cut programs

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

March 31, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.

The Board of Trustees began balancing Victoria College's budget Monday by increasing fees and discussing deactivating programs.

The group approved increasing the general, per-semester credit hour fee by $5.

The college has charged a $22 fee for the past four years. It will now cost $27, helping generate an expected $394,908, according to the agenda item.

The increase is necessary because of the burgeoning economy, said VC President Tom Butler.

The number of credit hours students enrolled in dropped by nearly five percent during the last year, indicating more people in the Crossroads are postponing their education to work possibly in the oil and gas industries, he said.

A person enrolled in 12 semester credit hours should see a $60 fee increase, said Darin Kazmir, director of marketing and communications.

Butler also said Victoria College will inform the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board it is deactivating its Medical Laboratory Technology Program.

Unlike eliminating the program altogether, deactivating gives VC three years to restart a program, he said.

Several people who do business at or with Citizens Medical Center asked the board to reconsider deactivating the Medical Laboratory Technology program, including Dr. Leilani Valdes, Sammie Sue Hendrix and Denise DeBord.

Valdes said that while most people do not realize it, timely, accurate lab reports greatly affect how a doctor treats a patient. She's heard in meetings of a national shortage of medical lab technicians.

"At those meetings, I've been able to sit back and say, 'Ah. Not here,'" Valdes said.

About seven people graduate each year from the Medical Laboratory Technology Program at Victoria College. The Texas Workforce Commission projects 10 new positions or replacement positions in that field in VC's seven-county region in the next decade, Butler said.

"We have an obligation to our students to prepare them for careers with good job prospects, so we are concerned," Butler said. "We collect local taxes, so our local taxpayers want us to prepare for local jobs."

Also slated for deactivation is the Professional Office Technology program and the EMS Paramedic degree program.

The Professional Office Technology program had 15 students in fall 2013, and VC students can still obtain a certificate that allows them to work as a paramedic. Students already enrolled in the programs slated to be deactivated will be allowed to complete and get the degree they originally sought, Kazmir said.

Other things that may have put the budget out of whack include the state's new method for funding health care costs and postponing buying new AC units and doing roof repairs, Butler said in a March 20 email to faculty and staff.

In that email, he discussed other cost-saving measures, such as eliminating computers at the end of their life span instead of replacing them and not filling certain vacant positions.

Butler added after the meeting that the board of trustees must also plan to spend money on the oil/gas technician, machines and industrial maintenance and mechanic programs, which will start at the Emerging Technology Complex in fall 2015.

VC's budget will be adopted in August, said Jennifer Yancey, vice president of College Advancement and External Affairs.



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