Maricopa Community College building headquarters

The Maricopa County Community College District board and top officials have been working on what they feel is appropriate for all 10 colleges.

The District began their “transformation” in the spring semester of 2017. The transformation blueprint would undergo three revisions, with the last version coming May 9, 2017, after the task force, formed by Chancellor Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, submitted their recommendations. The task force was a combination of civilian partners and Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) individuals. This version is polished with a clear mission the district has embarked on for a few semesters.

A district representative, Organization Change Manager, Steve Budge, spoke with the Mesa Legend about the transformation process.  “I’m with the district and helping with transformation activities, specifically guided pathways,” Budge said.

Budge is currently on reassignment with district and normally teaches Spanish at Mesa Community College. He spoke about the district becoming more student focused and gave a recap what drove the district to where they are currently.

The district and community partners realized the district was not performing the way they wanted and decided the system needed a complete overhaul. They wanted “clear and coherent pathways for our students”, said Budge

The departments were then required to setup the required courses for students to take, depending on their interests and field of study.

For the individuals taking vocational classes, the district also wanted to insure they had a structure to make sure the competencies were taught for those looking to directly enter the workforce.

MCCCD District realized they had two different kind of students and is properly aligning all the course competencies, so all it’s students can enter the workforce or transfer to the college/university of the student’s choice.

Another focus point for the district was having these pathways setup so the advisors could advise and not be “registration clerks”, as Budge referred to them. This streamlining of course work would allow advisors to direct students likes, needs and interests in the proper direction.

Budge referred to the process in the way a house is remodeled. When you start tearing into the structure and removing walls you may find things that were not found in the initial assessment.

When asked what some of the problems they had found within their tearing down the walls, Budge deflected the question and began talking about the guided pathways, again.

Budge mentioned the term, key stakeholder. This is a term within the transformation document and needed clarification, which he provided.

“Advisors are key stakeholders, in that. Faculty are key stakeholders. They need to be involved and engaged in the process. Umm, our deans and our department chairs, those are key stakeholders”, said Budge.

Budge ended the interview with a motivational quote.

“I’m really excited about these transformative changes, because it’s going to help you. Help you as a student, cause that’s where my heart is, and that’s where we are. There’s a lot of great people, wonderful people, across the district that are concerned about you and your success and that’s why we’re doing this. It’s for you.”, said Budge.

Now this is your typical corporate/political hooey, because in digging deeper into the story, the Mesa Legend staff found these facts.  

Budge was asked about these facts and said, “Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to speak to that, cause I don’t know anything about that. “

A district board member personally commissioned a paper by Mesa Community College (MCC) Vice President of Administrative Services, Jefferey Darbut.

District 4 Board Member, Jean McGrath sponsored “Organizational Change at Maricopa Community Colleges A Position Paper”, or the “Darbut Manifesto” as it has become known as, in 2016. The 2.0 version of the blueprint looks almost identical to the Darbut’s position paper, with a few word changes to make it the districts plan.

Whoever made the modifications did so in a sloppy manner. The position paper had the MCCCD logo emblazoned across the top and some words modified in the forward. The rest is an exact duplicate of Darbut’s paper.

According to the forward on Blueprint 2.0, “This “Transformational Blueprint” represents the application of my education and experience. With a 30-year career in the global manufacturing sector, with significant restructuring work, coupled with an MBA and continuous training I have prepared this report.”

Mr. Darbut’s forward said, “This “Organizational Change – A Position Paper” represents the application of my education and experience. With a 30-year career in the global manufacturing sector, with significant restructuring work, coupled with an MBA and continuous training I have prepared this report.”

According to the March 2017 Transformation Blueprint 2.0, “Estimated reductions to general operating expenses, which can be achieved over several years, is $185 million. Another $160 million in capital can be raised from the sale of assets and better use of existing funds.”

In an email to Chancellor Harper-Marinick on Apr. 28, 2017 at 9:27 AM, McGrath said, “I want to express my thanks to Jefferey Darbut MBA, Vice President of Administrative Services at Mesa Community College, for responding to my request for cost reduction ideas with a fantastic Position Paper.”

McGrath also encourages the chancellor “to move in that direction” and thanks her for following up on her request for the document from Mr. Darbut.

The 2.0 blueprint advised on opportunities and threats for the district.  An opportunity they identified was short-term degrees or certificates which provide immediate job placement were “priority one.”

Followed by, the discontinuing of programs to make way for high-demand job education. MCCCD Faculty were also labeled a threat due to their “unwilling and unable to respond” to new programs required by the marketplace.

The MCCCD District is also removing faculty input on the way decisions are made at the colleges.

Faculty will be converted to ““at-will” employment contracts” and tenure is no longer in the student’s best interest. Residential Faculty will also “have the College as its full-time employers and prohibit a second full-time employment position.” Casual overtime will be allowed.

Darbut recommends axing all the athletics to save $12.5 million, which the 2.0 blueprint recommends.

The transformation blueprint would be revised again when the district received the recommendations from the task force of citizens and MCCCD personnel.  

The updated version of the transformation plan has obviously gone to the lawyers because it does not look like an abridged version of the “Darbut Manifesto” and contains specific ideas in the direction of the district.

The bullet points are leadership, guided pathways, student services to support success, marketing and outreach, accountability and performance, and reducing competition between MCCCD colleges.  

The marketing and outreach portion include plans for a call center. The call center will “serve prospective students from employer leads, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Veterans, FAFSA, Admissions.”

Prospective students who pull the trigger, while on the phone with the call center, will be able to direct enroll in the appropriate MCCCD college campus.

The branding of MCCCD is also part of the plan. It has been occurring slowly for nearly a year and a half. It may not be noticeable, but all the school logos have been updated.

The district set aside a total of $425K to target, “Some College-No Degree program” individuals by marketing on billboards, bus exteriors and stations, the light rail system, and on buildings.

Currently, Phase 2 should be underway with similar objectives as in Phase 1, digital and local platforms, as well as paid social and grassroots methods.

This is just the surface of the story, as more will be coming in the months left in the semester.

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