RCTC's administration taking hits from every direction
The frustration that's been building at Rochester Community and Technical College for the greater part of a year has made its way into the public spotlight. From the school's student newspaper to a local satire site, here's a recap of the media coverage so far:
Concerns from faculty
The Post-Bulletin's Taylor Nachtigal was the first to report on the elephant in the room with a lengthy article, "New academic tradition or wasteful spending at RCTC?", that made its way onto the paper's front page last weekend.
In the report, faculty members raised questions about the administration's recent purchases for its centennial celebration: $6,800 for an academic mace, $3,200 for a presidential chain, and $20,000 to bring in a jazz band.
"With this new administration, energy and resources are being shifted away from our goal, which has always been to educate students," said RCTC instructor Shelli Arneson, according to the report.
Nachtigal said more than a dozen other faculty members and staff contacted the paper, but declined to be named "for fear of retaliation."
The paper reported a couple days later that "at least two instructors have received lay-off notices" at RCTC. The school faces a $2 million budget deficit for 2017 due to a mandatory 1 percent tuition decrease and lower-than-expected student enrollment.
Buzz on campus
RCTC's student newspaper, The Echo, used its October edition to publish four articles on the administration's handling of the centennial celebration.
"They are talking about cutting budgets, yet they are spending money on emblems and other things that the college doesn't need," said David Hanson, the treasurer for the school's Student Life department. "There are other, more serious concerns facing the college right now. We should be looking at developing programs that actually benefit future students."
Leslie McClellon, the president of RCTC, defended the expenses by arguing that it is important to honor the school's history. "This is a special year, and the Rochester community deserves to celebrate," she said, according to the Echo.
The student paper also published two opinion pieces, one critical of the expenditures and the other in support of the administration.
"When it comes to funding a once-in-the-lifetime event, we should be able to spend enough money to create special memories during the celebrations," wrote Jennifer Rodgers, the Echo's managing editor.
Zechariah Sindt, the paper's editor-in-chief, wrote that the biggest problem so far has been the lack of communication.
"I believe that had more people known they could participate in planning the events, and had more effort been put into communicating with the staff and students, the [centennial planning committee] would have spent less money, and more people would have attended the events."
The Echo also reported that Dezz Lewis, the school's new director for donor relations, is not McClellon's godson, despite rumors on campus suggesting otherwise. Lewis and McClellon both worked at Langtston University in Oklahoma before coming to Rochester.
A little humor
RCTC's questionable expenditures were the topic of a recent story in the Rochester Beet, a new satire site that pokes fun at local issues. The article jokes that McClellon has authorized the purchase of a new Lamborghini:
The vehicle, which will cost RCTC about $210,000, will only be used for "official school business," according to McClellon. To pay for the Lamborghini, the school is expected to cut several "non-essential" programs, including accounting and workplace communication.
The made-up story goes onto say McClellon has "set aside $80,000 to have Prince perform at her upcoming birthday party." To clear up funds for the party, the Beet jokes that the school's intro to leadership course would be cut.
The article has been "liked" more than 200 times through Facebook.
About Sean Baker: Sean is the founder and editor of the Med City Beat. Under his direction, the site has transitioned from a small news blog to one of the most widely-read publications in the city. Prior to launching the site in 2014, Sean spent about two years producing television news in Green Bay and Rochester. His office is above a brewery, so please excuse any typos. Twitter.
(Cover photo: The Med City Beat)