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February 28, 2001 - Palikir, Pohnpei

Update from the President's Office - No. 179

Board of Regents meeting    A special meeting of the COM-FSM Board of Regents is scheduled to be held in Kosrae March 12-15, 2001. Most of the Regents and College staff will be leaving Pohnpei March 12th and returning on March 15th. A draft agenda is attached for your information.

Kosrae Campus update    Kosrae Campus Director Kalwin Kephas reported that during January and February he has attended three meetings called by the Director of Kosrae Department of Education to discuss Kosrae teacher certification during which the roles of the College in the certification process were highlighted.

According to figures contained in the report, Kosrae Campus has a record enrollment of 176 for the spring 2001 semester with an average credit load of 10. A breakdown shows the following numbers by major: 16 agriculture (certificate); 12 carpentry; 110 education; 3 general studies; and 35 others. Of these, 139 are continuing students, 13 are new students, and 24 are returning students.

Kalwin reported on a meeting conducted by the Kosrae State Director of Agriculture to update members of the administrative team on the progress of the banana propagation project. Also attending the meeting were Kosrae Campus Assistant Director Kenye Killin and Land Grant Researcher Dr. Josekutty. The completion of the construction of the greenhouse for this project has been delayed due to a delay in the arrival of needed materials.

Students from the GEAR UP program are scheduled to visit Kosrae Campus during the month of April to learn information on financial aid, admissions, and programs. Five (5) GEAR UP students participated in the Student Leadership Conference which was summarized in Update 178. A group of 7th-grade GEAR UP students participated in an environment tour of Utwe-Walung Marine Park. Both 7th and 8th graders have been introduced to algebraic problems since January, a critical objective of the GEAR UP project.

Yap enrollment    According to the official list received last week from Yap Campus, a total of 85 students have enrolled at Yap Campus this spring. This brings the total enrollment of the COM-FSM system to 1910 for the spring semester.

Alcohol and Drug Task Force    According to a February 6, 2001, memorandum from Vice President for Support and Student Affairs Ringlen Ringlen, an Alcohol and Drug Task Force is being established to curb alcohol and drug abuse at the National and Pohnpei Campuses. Members of the College's staff who have been appointed to the Task Force include: Ringlen, Lore Nena, Benina Ilon, Morehna Rettin-Santos, Henry Wilson, Maria Dison, Marlou Korospe, Mary Snaden, Mariana Ben, and Josephine Albert. Several members of the community have also been invited to participate.

Possible areas of service include:

  • Developing and implementing a program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous for the National and Pohnpei Campuses
  • Developing a standardized counseling curriculum that can be used by College counselors and nurses
  • Exploring the feasibility of adapting or adopting a course for all persons arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or persons caught more than two times drinking or being drunk on campus
  • Collaborating on the establishment and operation of a "Hot Line" for crisis intervention
  • Establishing a referral service for more serious cases to agencies in Pohnpei State and National Government

Faculty library privileges    A concern was brought to the attention of the Cabinet regarding faculty library privileges. In a February 23, 2001, e-mail message to Division Chairpersons, Vice President for Instructional Affairs Spensin James asked that the Chairs inform their respective faculty members that they are no longer required to pay for library cards and that they can secure a library card, at no cost, at the LRC to sign out books. Also, a faculty member is not confined to the two-week loan period on books needed for class preparation and should indicate to circulation desk staff when such is the case. However, the two-week loan period does apply to everyone, including faculty, who check out books or other materials for personal enrichment or enjoyment. If anyone has a question regarding library/LRC policies, please see Spensin or LRC Director Dakio Syne.

Alternative financial plans/response to US counter proposal    The US counter proposal to the FSM position in the Compact re-negotiations does not bode well for postsecondary education in the FSM, in particular the College. Although $23 million is being proposed to fund elementary and secondary education, this provision specifically states that "US assistance under this grant shall not be used for post-secondary education." It appears that Pell Grant, SEOG, and the work study programs would still be available to our students under the US Department of Education. However, these funds go to students who then use these funds to pay tuition, fees, room, board, and books. Tuition, fees, room, and board payments make up approximately 50% of the College's revenues with the other 50% derived from an appropriation from the FSM. A portion of the funds appropriated from the FSM Government to the College is derived from Compact funds (at this point, it is uncertain as to exact breakdown between local revenues and Compact revenues). Under the US counter proposal, since none of the Compact funds can be used to support postsecondary education, one can expect a major reduction in the FSM appropriation to the College.

The COM-FSM Board of Regents expressed strong concern regarding the US counter proposal in a December 8, 2000, letter to JCN Chief Negotiator Peter Christian. In that letter, the Board also expressed concern that programs under USDA would also be terminated, which would mean that the Land Grant programs would be discontinued.

During a meeting of the Economic Policy Implementation Council (EPIC) held on December 18, 2000, I had the opportunity to share the Board's concern regarding the implications of the US counter proposal with the leadership at both the National and State levels. (See Update 175 for a summary of this meeting). Subsequent to this meeting, I have taken advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to share this concern.

While the Board of Regents and the College's administration are doing all that they can to address this situation, at the same time it is deemed prudent to prepare for the outcomes should our efforts to ensure continued funding for the College at an appropriate level prove to be unsuccessful. Therefore, in a January 9, 2001, memorandum to the College's Finance Committee Chairperson, I tasked the Finance Committee with taking the lead in reviewing the US counter proposal and developing a draft budget based on the level of funding that would be provided under that scenario. This action is not being taken to alarm anyone, especially our employees. Hopefully, this situation will be adequately addressed by the Compact negotiators in support of the future of the College. However, prudence dictates that we be prepared. Such a plan should not only prove useful to the College, but can also be used to alert the Chief Negotiator and members of JCN to the effects the US counter proposal would have on the College and higher education for FSM citizens.

The Finance Committee will be faced with making some very tough decisions as this plan takes shape. They have been asked to complete their work by the first part of May for presentation to the Board at its May meeting. I have asked the Finance Committee to conduct their discussions openly and to solicit input from all interested staff. If you have ideas to share as this plan is being developed, please feel free to share them with me or any member of the Committee. Thank you all for your cooperation and understanding.

More Next Time!

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COM-FSM Update from the President's Office No.179