• 55°

ASCC halts Demopolis classes for Spring 2010

Alabama Southern Community College announced late last week that it would not provide its classes at the Demopolis Higher Education Center for the Spring 2010 semester.

ASCC interim president Dr. William Blow said the reasons behind the action were financial and managerial.

“Over the last two or three years in Demopolis, we’ve had an operating deficit of over $200,000 a year,” he said. “With the 11-percent proration this past fiscal year and then entering this fiscal year with 7.5-percent proration, we’re having to look at every area we can to sustain that probation, to operate within whatever appropriation we can get.

“The management aspect is something else. After a good bit of discussion going back to July and August, we agreed to turn the management of the Center over to the University of West Alabama. We agreed to continue there and offer a limited number of courses in the fall semester with the idea that we would phase out after that as UWA firmed up their commitment to the Center, and they are doing quite well there now.”

Blow added that UWA could offer almost any class that ASCC could offer, with the exception of some technical courses. That, coupled with its proximity to Demopolis — 25 miles as compared to 100 miles to the ASCC central campus in Monroeville — made it difficult for ASCC to continue its position in Demopolis.

He added that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools would visit in 2010, an important visit that would help ASCC maintain accreditation. SACS would look at all of ASCC’s campuses, and having one less campus to direct — the farthest from its home campus in Monroeville — makes that visit easier for ASCC to handle.

“We’re trying our best to accommodate our students who have been enrolled in Demopolis,” Blow said. “We’re going to offer everything that we would have offered there and try to make it convenient for them at our campus in Thomasville. We’ll also have some Jackson offerings, and we’re going to try to accommodate them with daytime and nighttime classes.”

The decision by ASCC, while expected, still came as a surprise to many at the Demopolis Higher Education Center.

“That was a surprise to us,” said DHEC director Angelia Mance. “We had worked together to create a joint spring schedule, just like we had for the fall, where they were going to offer certain classes and we were going to offer certain classes. We found out late last week that — for the time being — they wanted not to be there. We wish them well, and we understand that they have to do what they need to do.

“Our focus is certainly on what UWA will do. I have a couple of meetings this week. We’re going to try to see if we can bridge that gap, because our commitment here is to be a full-service campus and to serve our students the best way we can. Even though we’ve already put out our schedule that we’re going to work on, we’re going to try to go back and see what else we can do. We will plan to fill all those gaps and do everything we can to serve the students here.”

UWA will have pre-registration at the Demopolis Higher Education Center on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Students may contact DHEC at 287-0174. ASCC students may register through its Web site, www.ascc.edu.