The devil might be in the details, but the snowball on "FHSU at Dodge City" is rolling downhill, FHSU President Ed Hammond told faculty members Friday.
Aspects of the plan to convert Dodge City Community College into a Fort Hays State University "baccalaureate center" and technical institute are not negotiable, Fort Hays State University President Ed Hammond said during an all-campus meeting of college employees Friday.
"Everything is subject to change except the things that are specific in the white paper," Hammond said. The white paper titled "Fort Hays State University at Dodge City" outlines how DCCC will cede academic control of the college to the university.
A vote by the DCCC Board of Trustees in front of a full-capacity crowd Tuesday constituted an agreement that could be taken to the state, Hammond said. Trustees Merrill Conant and Morris Reeves, who sat on the panel with Hammond, did not offer an alternate explanation.
The timeline for implementation "begins with the vote out of the board earlier in the week," Hammond said. "The next step is for the Board of Regents to approve the white paper. Then it will go to the state as we need to develop the enabling legislation and a funding request."
Among those non-negotiable elements in the proposal are the continued existence of the DCCC taxing entity, $10 million from the state to construct a technical institute building and $5 million annually in the state's university budget for continued operation of the campus's academic programs.
The money for the $10 million building is likely to be in addition to money donated by local businesses, Hammond said.
The DCCC Board of Trustees will collect property taxes to maintain infrastructure, provide scholarships and fund athletics among other non-academic functions.
Hammond said he hopes to get approval by the Board of Regents before the 2015 legislative session where funding could be secured in the 2016 budget.
This timeline is consistent with statements made by Hammond in November while appearing on a public access television program to discuss his upcoming retirement from the university's top post in July. The second year after retiring would be spent "working with the governor on a project that really impacts Fort Hays," he said. The interviewer did not press for details.
Confusion over the finality of the vote Tuesday did not just extend to members of the college staff and administration — several contacted the Daily Globe to ask for an immediate correction, claiming the vote was not an approval of the proposal but a go-ahead for exploring the idea — but to members of the Board of Trustees, as well.
The spouse of one trustee came to the Daily Globe office Wednesday criticizing the accuracy of the newspaper's report, stating that the board would make another vote before the state government started its approval process.
Trustee Floris Jean Hampton sent an open letter to the newspaper addressed to Ford County taxpayers and college employees quoting the language of the motion passed earlier in the week and stating that "the motion does not say that we have adopted the vague outline in that paper but it does mandate that the Board of Trustees and President Woodburn work together to develop a more specific plan for continued discussion about the future of Dodge City Community College."
Hampton wrote that she has been asked if the Board of Trustees will have another vote on the issue.
"If we do not take the time and make the effort to accept this mandated responsibility, we should all be recalled," she wrote.
Hammond and Board of Regents member Shane Bangerter were critical of insinuations that the plan had been developed in a secretive manner.
To those that did not expect the sudden introduction of the "FHSU at Dodge City" proposal, "I don't know where they've been; this has been a discussion in the community for a long, long time," Hammond said.
When asked by a faculty member why those discussions did not include the wider public and faculty, but rather certain elected officials and prominent area business owners, Reeves replied: "You have to start someplace, and that was the reason for developing the white paper."
"I didn't realize you'd been excluded," Board of Regents member Shane Bangerter said, which drew laughter from the audience.
"We've had meeting on this and been open for more than a decade. I was invited to be part of the community group. As far as I know it was open to anyone who would donate their time and wanted to be part of the conversation."
"We've had literally dozens upon dozens of meetings that have been open to the public. Certainly it was not our intent to hide anything," Bangerter said.
"Quite honestly I'm offended for you to suggest we tried to keep this secret," he said. "Anybody who wanted to be involved in this process over the last five to 10 years certainly could have been and no one would have been excluded."
Another member of the audience asked if the residents of Ford County would get the chance to vote on the proposal.
"I'm assuming that Ford County elected their (trustees) and they act on behalf of the residents, right?" Hammond said.
During the question and answer session that lasted more than two hours, Hammond spoke on the proposed scale and scope of the three academic units: a lower division college, an upper division college and the major piece, a technical institute with programs created through up to 10 corporate partnerships.
The upper division college, by far the smallest of the three units, would only bring professors to Dodge City "based on demand," Hammond said. Instead, baccalaureate programming could be delivered through online or other "modalities."
Hammond expects about 2,000 students to be enrolled in the technical institute at a time and 1,500 enrolled in the lower division college.
The technical college could have some Bachelor's degree programs, Hammond said, but only based on the need and discretion of the 10 corporate partners the school hopes to attract.
The Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, the school seen as a model for the proposed technical institute, offers 31 Associate of Applied Science degree programs, 27 of which are technical in nature. Nine of those courses are branded and administered in cooperation with a manufacturer, including General Motors, Kamatsu and Aggreko.
None of the three Bachelor of Technology degree programs at OSUIT are administered in cooperation with corporations.