Jensen’s first 100 days as head of HFCC

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Dr. Stan Jensen

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – One hundred days into his term as president at Henry Ford Community College, Stan Jensen is excited about where the college is headed.

Jensen began his term on May 1, with the college facing a $16.6 million budget shortfall for the 2013-14 fiscal year. After making cuts, re-negotiating contracts and other measures, the college is projecting their operating budget on December 31, 2013, to be over $2.6 million in the black.

“It’s no secret that we have had some tough financial times, but we are turning this around and getting our house in order,” Jensen said. “We have good days ahead, there will challenging days, but we will come out of it stronger.”

According to a report created by the college in June, the operating budget would have bottomed out both on July 15 and November 15 if the administration sat back and did nothing to decrease expenditures or increase revenue.

“We have the ability to borrow up to $5 million, but we really didn’t want to have to do that because you never want to fall into the habit of constantly borrowing money to cover expenses,” Jensen said. “We really had to look at our operations and make some tough decisions.”

The decisions made included laying off 14 administrators, implementing a six-week amnesty program for former students who owed the college money, ending the Lifelong Learning program, cutting expenditures that were non-crucial from the college budget and working with the union representing the teachers and administrators to re-negotiate their contracts.

“We had to act quickly,” Jensen said. “We have to serve our students, the community and southeast Michigan. If we do that right, we’ll be alright financially.”

Jensen also said that two current issues that his administration are focusing on are a proposed tuition increase and the millage renewal/increase that will be on the November general election ballot. He said that both measures will greatly help the college build up their reserves for capital projects.

The tuition increase would take affect for the Winter 2014 semester and would see the tuition rise per credit hour cost from $82 to 87 for residents, $142 to 149.25 for non-residents and from $147 to 154.25 for out-of-state and international students.

The ballot proposal calls for 4 mills, with 1 mill of that being new taxes. The other 3 mills will be two renewals that are set to expire in December 2014. One part is a 2.5 mill levy that is renewable every 10 years and the other is a .5 mill levy that is renewable every five years. The two levies generate $10 million annually for the college.

“Both of these steps will really benefit the college,” Jensen said. “Because our enrollment is expected to be down by around 25 percent, the tuition raise will help, though we’ll still be one of the cheaper community colleges in the state. The millage will allow us to build our fund balance back up so we’ll have more stability.”

He added that the future is bright for the college.

“The college has been around for 75 years, but I do believe that our best days are before us,” Jensen said.

Before working as a college administrator, Jensen spent 20 years working as a consultant and helped other colleges turn their performances around. He said that that experience has been a tremendous help in working with the financial difficulties at HFCC.

“I’ve done a lot of work to help grow smaller places or turn around larger ones, so those experiences are something I can draw on in my work here,” Jensen said.

One of the first things that Jensen did upon becoming president at HFCC was create several “continuous process improvement teams,” something he focused on as a consultant. These teams focus on different areas and present ideas on how to improve college functions like customer service, marketing and student retainment.

“We have to continuously improve things and not be satisfied with doing things a certain way because they’ve always been done that way ,” Jensen said. “We will be a leaner and much more efficient and much more effective institution in the upcoming years because of this work.”

Jensen was the candidate chosen for president out of a field of 54. The field gradually narrowed to six, where a vote by the HFCC Board had Jensen receiving the most votes. A final vote was taken at a special meeting on April 3 with the board approving Jensen 5-1 as the next president for the college.

Contract negotiations took place during that month, with the final contract being approved by the board at a special meeting held at the college on April 29. Board President Pamela Adams and Secretary Joseph Guido signed it the next morning, with Jensen flying in from Colorado the same day to sign it that afternoon.

Jensen attended his first board meeting on May 20.

He previously served as president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, which is ranked first in Colorado and 17th in the nation for student success, as measured by graduation and transfer rates. He left the college in December after more than four years as president.

In his time there, Jensen focused on strategic planning for college growth, program development, resource development, strategic technology adoption and leadership.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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