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New Wcc President Forsees More Accessibility

New Wcc President Forsees More Accessibility image New Wcc President Forsees More Accessibility image
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When Gundar A. Myran is asked to generalize abot things he hopes to do as Washtenaw Community College's new president, he speaks of both innovation and continuity. He hopes to see WCC, where enrollment reached 6,000 this fall, become still more accessible. Myran suggests, for example, that it should eventually be possible for parttime students to complete a full two-year WCC program at an off -campus location. He mentions, as another possibility, that "in Australia they have 'neighborhood colleges' in private homes, where maybe eight or 10 women who can't conveniently get to a college regularly can take courses by meeting with instructors travelineg out to meet them. Emphatically, though, Myran declares that in a community college, "the core of your student body is the full-time student. In terms of priorities I would certainly put service to full-time students on a par with service to any other students. "That is the bedrock: strong daytime, full-time programs. Faculty who work in tnat Sg are the bedrock of your professional staff." . Myran, speculates that "in.tne luiure ve'U probably think of video cassettes mth course materials as we now think of books " and notes that a type useable on Sme televisión sets now exists. He also raises a possibility of WCC becoming an accrediting agency for "continuing education units" based on in-house training given by local employers. On the other hand, he believes strongly that "as we develop we staould do ït in terms of the whole program. A college shouldn't take on every new fad that ranbecame WCC's president on "At this point," he observes, "im sui. not always sure when I walk down the Sis whether I'm saying hello to students or faculty members ' He was selected in July by WCCs Board of Trustees as the college' s second president, succeeding Dav!d H. Ponitz fim ált ofeven prsprecommended by a search committee. That committee worked from April into June to narrow down a list of 200 applicants. The number of applications, Myran comments, reflected both WCC's "solid reputation" and the generally tight job market. Myran had been dean of instruction since 1972 at Rockland Community College near New York City, where he also served as acting president this summer. He is however, a midwesterner, having been brn in Minnesota; taught as an associate professor of higher education at Michigan State University and served as an administrator at Jackson Community College. ? Being new at WCC, he has requested staff briefings on topics that include a statistical profile of the faculty, public relations, enrollment trends, the budget process, long-range planning, a demographic analysis of Washtenaw County, curriculum development. During examinations he has made so far of WCC's curriculum, in which the emphasis on vocational training is heavier than at Rockland, Myran has found that "Basically, those programs I have explorad meet my expectations. They are sound programs." Myran welcomed the ïniormauuu, iu one of his first briefings, that "WCC this fall had more area high school graduates than ever before and more in that group taking vocation majors. That means more f rom a group who previously had chosen liberal arts curriculums at fouryear schools are choosing to follow - tional studies. "That's the general trend. It's definitely influenced by the economy, and also some disenchantment among the general public with higher education, more questioning of the value of college degrees. People are more realistic about higher education than they were a few years ago." Still rapid enrollment growth within the existing daytime curriculum would not justify merely doing more of the same, in Myran's view. "I think another area we uriii want to explore more car fully is how we deliver the services. He expresses hope that, in the near future "students who come evenings could pursue a whole degree program A st udent taking_courses at, say, a center in Brighton, should be able to take nis whole program there. That should be the g(This doesn't mean Myran envisions building branch campuses. "I would say that extensión programs ought to remain in shared facilities," he states. (WCC's present "outreach" programs, none of which adds up to a full associate degree irrimlum. take place in such locations as Chelsea High School, a leased city-owned building in downtown Ypsilanti, and the Federal Correctional Institution atMilan.) "I definitely do want to continue to be a county.institution," Myran adds, "open to any possibility of service to other áreas. I intend to be in contact with leaders in other communities in the county in the next few weeks." These, he adds, will include U-M officials. Myran readily acknowledges that some innovative efforts he was familiar with at Rockland Community College probably adapt better to liberal arts than to vocational studies. Rockland, for example, offers "not black studies," but "what I cali theme studies," as a "way that a large institution can créate smaller, more intimate groups. At Rockland, we called them cluster colleges. "One had the theme 'Great Periods of Man.' This was a very rigorous interdisciplinary approach to humanities, interrelating music, arts, history. Each of four seminars focused on a particular period. "Another had an 'Open University' theme. Each student would develop a semester plan around a topic that interested him; theré were both seminars and independent study; 150 students did this, and groups of 16 would meet once a week, with a faculty member to each group." This approach is "more difficult" in I vocational areas, in Myran's view. But he adds that when he left Rockland, "we I were just organizing a 'cluster college' I in performing ajts. That's vocational in I the New York City area." At any rate, Myran feels "it's in the ' liberal arts that we need to explore, to get beyond that standard 50-minute hour , I for presentations. If a group of faculty members were to initiate a proposal for a 'cluster college' I would be supportive. It would be important that it does fit into I the overall rhythms of the college." Myran emphasizes that he is well I aware that the most rapidly growing age I groups in the U.S. population are of I sons more than 65 and those between 30 and 35. Both groupsare among those he j describes as "new constituencies" for community colleges. Needless to say, Myran adds that he was glad to learn WCC operates a "Golden Eagle" program which offers retired persons a possibility of taking WCC courses either at off-campus centers or on campus. Concerning collective bargaining, Myran declares: "My own experience is that the collegial relationship one needs for curriculum planning and general college planning, and collective bargaining, can co-exist. There's always the danger that one side or the other can be so strong it ihterferes with operations of the institution. "There's a maturing process. That danger exists more at the outset of the bargaining process. "There isn't any question that both groups have the same interests. There is a danger: The possibility that the best interests of students are neglected. That's a danger we always have to guard against, that contracts benefit people in an organization but are detrimental to students."