WOODLAND HILLS : Pierce Leader Urged Not to Act Alone

Pierce College Acting President Mary Lee, ignoring warnings that her actions would be "politically unwise," has decided to scale back four industrial arts programs without first receiving input from a college advisory council.

The Pierce College Council, a committee of students, faculty and administrators, was to have made a recommendation to Lee at a meeting last week, but decided to wait until April 18 so faculty members could study the proposal.

But Lee has the final say on the matter.

She warned the council that she might not wait, saying there has been plenty of time for everyone to study the proposal, which has been in the works for two years. Council members on Tuesday nonetheless blasted Lee's actions.

"We're very unhappy about it," said Sid Elman, chairman of the school's faculty chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. "What does that say about shared governance?"

Another council member, Patricia Siever, also a history teacher, said a motion will be made at the April 18 meeting to reprimand Lee, Pierce's acting president. That, Siever said, may hurt Lee's chance to be named as the college's permanent president.

"She is the acting president, so everything she does could influence the committee (which will appoint a permanent president) and the board of trustees," said Siever.

"Whether I'm here for two days or 10 years, I will do what's in the best interest of the college," Lee responded. "And one thing Pierce College needs to do is move on with decisions."

The original plan called for eliminating the metallurgy, wood shop, welding and machine shop programs. Under a compromise plan by Lee, the metallurgy program will be phased out by August. Certificate and associate degree programs will be eliminated in the welding and machine shop programs. The woodworking department, which does not offer a certificate, will begin offering one for a two-year trial period.

Lee and others have argued that the programs have low enrollments and are out of step with Pierce College's academic mission. Students in the programs--most of whom don't take any academic courses--would be better served at vocational schools, Lee and others say.

But opponents say Pierce College is the only school in the area that offers quality industrial arts programs. Opponents also dispute the claim that job opportunities are limited in the four program areas.

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