ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day
89°
Partly Cloudy
H 91° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    89°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    78°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 91° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    91°
    Afternoon
    Partly Cloudy. H 93° L 78°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
The changes we will see at FSCJ
Close

The changes we will see at FSCJ

The changes we will see at FSCJ
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

The changes we will see at FSCJ

It was what one trustee described as a “frank discussion.”

The Florida State College at Jacksonville Board of Trustees met for nearly four hours Tuesday to delve in to each of the 16 recommendations which were handed down as part of an independent, institutional review last week.

Led by Gwen Yates, who was officially handed the gavel of Board Chair during the regular board meeting which began after the workshop, the Board worked with College President Steven Wallace in finding the right avenue to pursue with these recommendations.

The President’s Office issued a status report for each of the recommendations offered by MGT of America, saying he was surprised at how closely many of the recommendations lined up with plans that he already had in the works.  Five of the recommendations in the MGT report are either mirrored or have some alternative offered in his planned report during the normal Board meeting.

Overall Trends

Streamlining communication

Hand in hand with accountability is a need to ease communication within the college.

One of the big focuses for today’s workshop was creating a Chief of Staff position. 

The debate here centered on the exact role that position would play.  The Board did not want to define the role exactly because they said it is not their position to run the College, however it was a concern that the position would be redundant. Yates reminded the Board that they were just deciding on recommendations, and suggested allowing the creation of the position at the College’s discretion, but requiring Board approval once the position is defined and before it is staffed.  Fundamentally, the Trustees seemed to agree there needs to be some functional role to take some of the internal jobs and concerns off the President.

Trustee Suanne Thamm was concerned about adding any level of bureaucracy to office communication- in other words she was concerned people previously accustomed to a direct line of communication with the President would no longer have that.

Wallace says his office can take on the task of figuring out how this position would “support, assist and improve every cabinet position.”

Eliminating the Executive Vice President position is also something they hope will ease communication.  This was a recommendation which Wallace sided with entirely, pointing that it is on the Board’s agenda for today- and did pass unanimously.  There was some concern among the board members about one specific function they believed the EVP held- acting as College President when Wallace is out of town.  Wallace clarified that statement from MGT, however, saying he appoints someone in that role and multiple people have filled it in the past.  Furthermore, he says with the state of technology as it is now, he can essentially do the job through virtual media.

Accountability

It’s nothing new, per say.  Both the financial aid audit and the recent internal review called for more accountability at FSCJ, and now the administration has stepped in that line.

Wallace outlined five levels of accountability between the workshop and regular meeting for within the financial aid office.  He says the Vice President for Administrative Services and Director of Financial Aid both bore very high levels of accountability.  The Director is especially responsible for “all aspects of the program’s operational performance and failures.”  As such Wallace recommends an immediate national search begin for a new Director, and the current position holder takes a step down.

Various deans and an executive director at the campuses are also put in the center of the financial aid problems, and four will be suspended without pay for two weeks.

Creating an internal auditor to report directly to the Board was another recommendation that drew questions. There was again the initial consensus that it would be an important role before some discussion on exactly what that role would be.  It was mainly unclear who the auditor would report to and under which branch of the College- if any- the position would be housed.  Because of the potential for the auditor to deal with very sensitive matters, some trustees wanted to make sure the role could function free of influence.

Maintaining the identity

While there is a definite focus on change and outlining a roadmap for the college to move on, not everything could be compromised.

Wallace was unwilling to move on two recommendations which he says severely compromise the very identity of the college. One dealt with integrating the non-degree classes.  Wallace says FSCJ is career oriented and has worked very hard to create the separate technical institution, so consolidating those classes would essentially reverse that work they had done.  In fact he went one step further, asking the Board not to just “stay the course” but to invest in further developing and defining the technical program.

The Campus President joined in Wallace’s rejection of redefining their roles.  At first, Wallace had to get further clarification from MGT on what exactly their recommendation on the presidents referred to, and when the idea of either centralizing or completely decentralizing control came up it plainly rejected it.

FSCJ has what Wallace and the Campus Presidents call a “hybrid structure” that makes the college very complicated, but at the same time unique and defined.  He thinks the college needs to continue moving on that path.

Training and Development

There were two separate recommendations holding this focus, one suggesting the Board amp up training, and the other offering that for leadership.

Some of the trustees had already registered for various workshops to that effect, and all agreed they would report back with any significant findings or ideas on moving forward with making it consistent.

The administration wanted to see this focus, but pointed to a lack of funding for the position which was specifically designated to manage training.

Not all apologies

One of the most critical problems cited in the financial aid review, and one recommendation from MGT dealt with the antiquated technology handling payroll and other important tasks.  This was, according to Wallace, a strategic decision.

He says the college is at the point where some of the IT is held together by “bubble gum and chicken wire,” but the college chose that in an effort to reserve more funding for students.  The college has operated at a fraction of the technology budget seen by most institutions- opting to keep licenses going but with few, if any, upgrades.

There is a plan in the works to begin upgrading the IT system, but something that the audit wanted to happy quickly, will in fact take some time.  Wallace says he will not allow a very significant sudden investment in to the system because the funding would come from student services.  He agrees it is an important upgrade to take place, but over time.

“No operational problems”

It was a statement Wallace eventually backtracked on.  Toward the beginning of the workshop he told the Board FSCJ does not have any more operational problems different than what a large college would have.

A few minutes later he corrected himself, saying instead they do have problems, but they are learning from them.  Moreover, at least the financial aid problems were in good shape.

Several board members told me restoring student trust and erasing the public image around the financial aid problems were some of the most important steps on the road to reviving FSCJ.  Wallace is confident the changes in the financial aid office and other ideas offered up do exactly that.

The Roadmap

Yates previously described these reviews as the roadmap for the college, and it’s a metaphor she renewed once again today.  She says the talks and decisions today were good progress down that road, but it is one we will have to keep checking as we drive forward.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • It’s news that Downtown drivers have been waiting for. The Florida Department of Transportation says they’re expecting to open the newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 northbound at the Overland Bridge project early next month. The southbound traffic shift will remain in effect for now.  The lanes that drivers have been using since early 2016, while the construction takes place, will now become what the FDOT calls collector/distributor lanes. What that means is those lanes will still be open, but will only drop off in Downtown, instead of reconnecting to the main highway after the bridges exit.  In essence, once the newly rebuilt lanes of I-95 northbound open, you will only use them if you intend to go to the Fuller Warren Bridge or beyond. If you want to get off at the Main Street Bridge, Acosta Bridge, or Prudential exit, you will take the collector/distributor lanes. The exit point for the collector/distributor lanes will remain the same, at the San Diego Road overpass, north of Emerson.  The same general concept will take effect when the southbound lanes reopen as well. In all, the FDOT expects the Overland Bridge project to be completed this fall.  The changes are designed to make traffic flow more safely and efficiently. The overhaul also addressed the fact that the highway was old and built at a time that traffic capacity was much lighter. In the months ahead of the start of the project, there were holes frequently opening on I-95 in that area because of age and traffic factors.  The FDOT has maintained a project website, where drivers can get further details about the changes.
  • At least 42 people were hurt in a train crash outside Philadelphia. >> Read more trending news >> Click here or scroll down for more
  • A homeless man’s call to police on Monday morning ended an hours-long search for a Louisiana infant who was kidnapped and then abandoned underneath a highway overpass, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Authorities in Shreveport were called Monday morning by a homeless man who said that another man told him he had left a baby under a bridge in Minden, about 30 miles east of Shreveport, KTBS reported. The child and a man identified by authorities as 25-year-old Kyshaun Wilson had been reported missing around 3:30 a.m. Monday after Wilson left a home in Minden with the 2 1/2-month-old boy, according to the news station. KTBS described Wilson as a friend of the family who lived at the home on Columbia Street, but KSLA reported that he was not a blood relative to the boy. He was visiting the home on Sunday night and got up around midnight Monday to get the infant a bottle, according to KTBS. “For some reason unknown at this time, he walks out with the baby,” Minden police Chief Steve Cropper told the news station. Investigators told KSLA that Wilson walked for miles before he left the baby under an overpass on Interstate 20 around 3 a.m. He got a ride to Shreveport and went to Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, where he met a homeless man and confessed to leaving the infant, the news station reported. The homeless man, who was not identified, called police, who were able to find Wilson. Wilson initially denied any knowledge of the missing child, but later admitted that he had left him under the overpass, the Minden Press-Herald reported. Police found the child wrapped in a blanket and sleeping underneath the Sibley exit bridge, according to KTBS and The Press-Herald. “The scariest thing about it -- if he were able to roll off that ledge, he would have hit that concrete retaining ledge and probably would have rolled right out into interstate,” Cropper told the Press-Herald. However, he told KTBS, “the child was fine. He had only a few minor abrasions.” The baby has since been released to his mother. Cropper told the Press-Herald that Wilson was arrested on one count of aggravated kidnapping. As authorities took him to police headquarters, Wilson said that “God told me to do it,” according to the Press-Herald.
  • A 23-year-old woman died and a second woman was injured Monday when a driver lost control of her car and struck them while they watched the solar eclipse in Kentucky, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Authorities told WLKY that Alyssa Noble, 38, lost control of her car while driving on Main Street in Hyden on Monday afternoon, striking a utility pole and a pair of women who were watching the eclipse. Officials pronounced 23-year-old Mackenzie Hayes, of Hazard, dead at the scene of the crash. Rhonda Belcher, 41, of Wooton, was airlifted to the University of Kentucky Hospital, Kentucky State Police said in a news release obtained by The Courier-Journal. The newspaper reported that Hayes and Belcher were watching the eclipse around 1:15 p.m. near the courthouse in Hyden when the crash happened. It was not immediately clear what caused Noble to lose control of her vehicle. WKYT reported that Noble was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee, after the collision. Hayes and Belcher worked at Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, according to the news station. They were on their lunch break when they were struck while stopping on the sidewalk to watch the eclipse, WKYT reported. In a statement obtained by the news station, Barry Martin, CEO of Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, called the crash “a tragic accident.” “We are asking that everyone keep all of those involved in your prayers and be respectful of their privacy,” Martin said. Police continue to investigate the crash.
  • A former star athlete at Georgia’s Paulding County High School was shot and killed Friday in a subdivision after a fight, police in Dallas, Georgia, said.  Tommy Lee Robinson, 18, had just left a football game at the school when he went to the Ivy Trace subdivision, Dallas police Capt. Bill Gorman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A fight broke out at a home and Robinson was shot and killed, Gorman confirmed. >> Read more trending news “There were two different groups of young people who have been at odds for a year ... and it came to a head Friday,” Gorman said. Police are still investigating why the two groups were fighting. They do not believe the shooting was gang-related.  Gorman said current and former Paulding County High students between the ages of 16 and 19 were involved in the incident that also injured 18-year-old Timothy Nelson. He suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was treated at WellStar Paulding Hospital.  Authorities have not identified any suspects.  Surrounded by loved ones at a vigil Sunday, Robinson’s mother, Melinda Lee, said she hopes her son’s shooter comes forward.  “This is the last thing any mother wants to do,” she told WSBTV. “You see it over and over again, and you always hope to God it’s not you.”  Robinson, who played football in high school, graduated in the spring and was headed to college, according to the news station.

The Latest News Videos