Columbia Basin College hires large burst of faculty

Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldAugust 29, 2013 

Columbia Basin College will have 15 new faculty members when it opens for fall term in mid-September.

Some of the new professors and instructors will fill positions left empty in recent years, such as two English faculty posts, college officials said.

Others, though, will teach in expanding and new programs, such as the college's new bachelor's degree programs in cybersecurity and project management.

The college has hired new faculty in recent years but not in such a large burst, said CBC President Rich Cummins. A more stable economy and generous state budget also allowed for raises for other faculty and the restoration of pay for the college's classified staff that had previously been cut.

"I wasn't willing to do any hiring until I knew how the recession would turn out," Cummins said.

The college, as well as the rest of state government, has had to tighten its belt in recent years because of the economic recession. Many community colleges have raised tuition in recent years to replace the $1.4 billion cut from their budgets by state lawmakers since 2009, raising fears of driving down enrollment due to rising costs.

But state lawmakers reversed the budget trimming trend this summer, providing $1.3 billion for higher education, a 12 percent increase compared to the prior budget. Community colleges alone received $53 million more.

The new CBC faculty will teach general subjects such as math, English, physics and history, as well as music and nursing. Two of the new hires will serve students looking to complete their high school education. The college has filled all but one of the positions, an assistant professorship in cybersecurity. The starting salaries range between $45,000 and $48,000.

The new staff will help decrease class sizes and provide more flexibility to students, Cummins said. The school served the equivalent of more than 5,200 full-time students during its winter term.

Deborah Meadows, dean of social sciences, business and technology, said her department is getting the new positions for project management and cybersecurity, but also a new assistant professor of history.

"He's coming to us with some good experience and he's very interested in integrating writing into his courses," she said.

Bill McKay, dean of arts, humanities and physical education, said the additional faculty will be a big help when it comes to offering more courses and improving the student-to-teacher ratio. However, they will also enhance the college itself.

"It's new faculty perspective and maintaining the quality we try to have for our students," he said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402;; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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