Despite strong support from Glendale Community College President Rex Craig, the school's board of trustees voted Tuesday not to join a research group that would analyze information about students and curriculum.
In rejecting the proposal, 4 to 1, the majority said they would prefer the research to be conducted by an employee of the school rather than the outside group. The program, called the Community College Institutional Research Consortium, is operated by officials at USC.
Craig said that joining the consortium would be a bargain at $7,500 a year and that Glendale College would benefit not only from information gathered at its campus but also by comparing itself to five other two-year colleges that may participate.
"Research is difficult and expensive," Craig said in his report to the board. "With expert assistance and by combining the resources of several colleges, we can develop a better research program for a fraction of the usual cost."
The consortium is designed to assist community colleges in obtaining reliable answers to such questions as: How are students' course desires changing? Are employers pleased with work done by graduates? How well is the college meeting the needs of special groups such as single parents or people with language barriers?
Pasadena City College has joined the consortium, and four other local two-year schools are considering joining, Craig said.
Under the proposal, experts from USC would have helped Glendale College employees design accurate research techniques and analyze the data, but would not assist in the collection of information.
In opposing the plan, trustee president Rae Berry said that, if the college joined the consortium, "It would be like paying the bill and also doing the work."
"Getting this information is very important to us, but I'm not convinced of the value of the consortium," Berry said.
Trustee Ted Tiffany, who voted in favor of the plan, said that joining the consortium "was a good idea from the start" and that Glendale College "would be in the hands of a highly respected group that would do us a lot good."
Response to Criticism
Craig said a principal reason for joining was to collect data to respond to recent statewide criticism that the number of community college students transferring to four-year schools was too low.
Craig said the consortium could help not only in determining the transfer rate at Glendale College, but, more importantly, in discovering how many students intended to transfer when they enrolled.
"If we had that information, we could respond to critics who complain about our transfer rate by saying their information is misleading because only a certain percentage of our students have any desire to go on to a university," Craig said.
Funds to Hire Researcher
Trustee Robert Holmes noted that last year the trustees set aside $30,000 to hire a full-time researcher for the school.
The college has hired two part-time researchers but has not found a suitable candidate to work full time.
The funds, Holmes said, should be used to hire a permanent researcher, instead of using part of it to join the consortium.
"Hooking up with this group would be a little like putting the cart before the horse," Holmes said.