TEMPERANCE — An ad hoc Bedford Township group remains convinced that Monroe County Community College plans to close the Whitman Center, despite categorical statements to the contrary from college officials.
The group, Citizens 4 the Whitman Center, believes the college has a gradual strategy to steer students away from the Whitman Center to the Raisinville Road main campus in Monroe by eliminating courses and services.
“Bedford is the red-headed stepchild,” said Sharon Hutchinson, one of the group’s members. “They want everything to be in Monroe. They will not come out and say, ‘We’re closing the Whitman Center,’ but this is the beginning of the end. This is part of a larger strategy to shift things to the north.”
Judith Hamburg, a former Whitman Center director, said Ms. Hutchinson’s statement is supported by the college’s decision to close the Whitman Center during June and July this year, by its elimination of lab sciences there, and by the fact no director has been appointed to replace Sandy Kosmyna, who resigned in July.
But college officials say unequivocally there is no plan to close Whitman, and never has been.
“It’s not even in the conversation,” said Grace Yackee, vice president of instruction.
The college’s trustees last year approved closing Whitman in June and July as a cost-cutting move to save $20,000 to $25,000 each month, citing a steep decline in spring and summer enrollments.
Joe Verkennes, the college’s marketing director, said the board and administration were monitoring the situation and if Whitman’s enrollments rose enough for the spring and summer terms next year, the center could be kept open in June and July. He said Whitman, which serves south Monroe County and Toledo, is considered a vital part of the community college.
“We have no plan to do this [close Whitman]. They keep saying this over and over again, and we keep telling them this is not the case. The marketing department just sent a Whitman fall course schedule mailer to the 13,000 homes in Bedford. Residents received that about a week ago.” He said the college has run newspaper ads listing the Whitman offerings.
Lab sciences were eliminated at Whitman, according to Ms. Yackee, because “the labs were not up-to-date and the classrooms were not the highest quality.”
The four labs on the main campus, on the other hand, were all updated in 2007 and far superior. She said the community college lacked the funds right now to upgrade Whitman’s labs.
Ms. Yackee and Mr. Verkennes said the absence of a new full-time director has not been a hindrance to Whitman. Instead, the community college has been sending its top officials on a rotating basis to serve in lieu of a Whitman director. Ms. Yackee said she is at Whitman at least once every week or two.
“It gives you another perspective to get down there,” she said. “I enjoy it.”