Byrne not helping two-year colleges

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dear Editor,

Two-year Chancellor Bradley Byrne seems to have made some regrettable decisions in his zeal to save Alabama’s two-year college system.

The system has not raised the price of tuition in four years, even though inflation has increased more than 13 percent. Now, faced with proration cuts, Byrne’s answer to the situation is to make budgetary cuts rather than make minor tuition increases.

Students rarely like to see their tuition go up, but when budget cuts threaten to seriously affect the quality of education, they will usually accept the increase.

Byrne has proposed several changes to the fair dismissal act that will have a negative impact. First, he wants professors to work five years, not three, before achieving tenure. That will effectively run off many good teachers we have in the state.

Secondly, he looks to remove tenure protections from managerial positions, such as vice presidents or deans. Those workers need protection just as much, or not more so, than professors and instructors. Administrators can sometimes fall prey to political or personal power plays.

Byrne also wishes to give the chancellor the sole power of choosing arbitrators for appeals made by system employees who have been let go. This consolidates far too much power in the chancellor’s position.

All of these changes would only apply to the two-year college system, which unfairly sets those employees apart from the employees of our public schools and four-year colleges.

Byrne’s solution for the PACT fund mess is just as unfair. He proposes that students affected by the PACT collapse be exempt from increases in their college tuition for the next three years. That will only punish those who didn’t pay into the PACT fund.

Byrne is just looking to grab as much power as he can. Gov. Bob Riley gave Byrne far too much authority, and Byrne seems to have enjoyed it more than he should have.