LCC president Knight looks to the future
By Scott Pohl, WKAR
LANSING, MI – Like most administrators in Michigan, Lansing Community College president Brent Knight has an eye on the state capitol these days.
With a new governor taking office and lots of new faces in the state House and Senate, Knight will join those voicing the case for higher education funding.
LCC recently got some good news on the financial front...the school will get $10-million from the state to upgrade the Arts and Sciences building. Ten labs and nine classrooms will be added to the downtown facility.
President Knight tells WKAR's Scott Pohl that the next job will be finding the matching money needed to proceed with the project.
BRENT KNIGHT: "Lansing Community College needed to remodel a major classroom building, 40 years old, and that building has all of our science labs, and we teach math, and it was just essential that we remodeled it. Science labs need to be contemporary so that those moneys, and we have to match them, so the college will need to provide $10 million to match the state's money, well, it's $20 million, and you can still do a lot with $20 million, and that will make a big difference in that building for future students for many years."
SCOTT POHL: "Do you have the $10 million or some portion of it?"
KNIGHT: "No. We will have to do a bond issue, and we'll have to pay for it out of operating income over time. We do have current debt, and it does expire over time, so we'll study just how we'll borrow. It's important that our debt, just like any family, that your principal and interest is at a prudent level, and something that you can sustain and afford, and in our case won't cause us to increase tuition, but we believe that's doable."
POHL: "What's the timeframe for experiencing actual refurbishing work on these classrooms?"
KNIGHT: "We need to submit a plan to the state, and the state would have to approve of the plan, the drawings and the like. And, so, these things are slower than faster, but I think that maybe next fall or something, that you'd start to see some construction."
POHL: "Do instructors who teach these classes have any input on the equipment needs they might like addressed?"
KNIGHT: "The answer to that would be yes, yes, and yes. I don't know how to design a physics lab or a chemistry lab, and we rely on our faculty to help us."
POHL: "We're sitting in your office in the LCC administration building, just a couple of blocks from the state capitol, and so I'd like to ask you to look ahead to the year 2011. With a new governor and large turnover in the legislature, what are you anticipating will be the impact on Lansing Community College and community colleges around the state?"
KNIGHT: "Well, in my opinion, it will be a cold winter in Lansing, and I'm talking about more than just the weather. The state will have to balance its budget, and they have the well-publicized $1.5 billion problem, and I think that the state in 2011 will deal with its structural revenue and expenditure problems, which I think is important. I think that we need to balance regular operating money and regular expenses and balance the budget, and make some structural changes. So, I think most or almost all units of government in Michigan will probably have less money in the next fiscal than the current fiscal. For community colleges, we'll argue to maintain the same level of funding. I think that's realistic because community colleges are counter-cyclical, that when the economy is in difficulty, people enroll in community colleges, and that's important for Michigan."