HFCC board hit with flash mob, talks finances

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Henry Ford Community College ended 2013 on a high note.

At the Dec. 16 Board of Trustees meeting, the board and college administrators were surprised by a “flash mob” choral performance and reviewed their financial situation, a topic widely discussed throughout the year.

The meeting began with HFCC Vocal Music Instructor Kevin Dewey approaching the board to inform them on the music program and upcoming shows.

“Every year, I bring in a group to sing for you, but this year I thought I’d take the time to tell you a little more about our programs,” Dewey said.

After discussing music courses and performances offered at the college, Dewey apologized for not bringing the choir to sing for the board and offered to sing for them by himself.

After singing a verse of “The Boar’s Head Carol,” Dewey turned around to face the crowd and signaled members of the choir, who had hid themselves among the other attendees at the meeting, to join in the song.

All around the room, individuals stood up and joined in the song as more choir members filed in from outside the room to line the walls with vocalists.

A visibly surprised board reacted as the choir moved into “Carol of the Bells” before exiting with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

After the performance, Board President Pam Adams thanked the choir for their performance and admitted being completely surprised.

“That was very clever,” Adams said. “You really got us.”

Later in the meeting, HFCC President Stan Jensen gave the board an update on two items that have been widely discussed at meetings all year: student enrollment and the college’s financial situation.

“As of December 9, we are down about 3 percent for students registered for the Winter semester,” Jensen said.

He noted that several other community college enrollments also are down, but that HFCC is in better position than it was one year ago when it was down 23 percent.

“It’s encouraging,” Jensen said.

Jensen said the number will probably change as the Winter semester approaches, but that the college budgeted for a 15 percent drop.

HFCC Vice President of Financial Services and Auxiliary Services John Satkowski said the numbers looked good and that a better picture of the finances will be available in January after the Winter semester begins and final enrollment numbers are in.

Jensen said the tuition increase that took effect for the Winter semester would help financially as well.

The college raised the per credit hour cost for the upcoming semester 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.

Jensen said the college, which began the current fiscal year with a $16.6 million budget shortfall, was on pace to have a cash flow of $7 million on Dec. 31 and $11 million on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

“This is the best financial report we’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Jensen said.

Jensen took over as president at the college on May 1.

The board of trustees next meets Jan. 21.

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

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