The two finalists for Klamath Community College president shared their education philosophies and development strategies with community members, students and college faculty last week.

The public forums for Jerome “Jerry” Migler and Roberto Gutierrez, held Wednesday and Friday, respectively, were a mix of question and answer sessions that included each candidate detailing his personal background. Both fielded questions pertaining to revenue sources, online courses and community economic development.

What’s the role of a community college in the community?

Migler: The community college is a tremendous resource, he said. It offers opportunities to help people who want to work in a vocational career or transfer to a larger college. It helps improve the workforce and provides the community with citizens and taxpayers.

Gutierrez: Community colleges help with economic development, Gutierrez said. The first thing employers look at in an area is the level of education, he said, and having a well-educated workforce helps attract those employers. As part of that, community colleges should offer customized training to students that meets the needs of the community and its businesses.

How would you find funding for the college?

Migler: There’s no magic bullet, Migler said, and funding often ends up coming from several smaller sources. Foundations are a big part of the future. As tuition costs increase, they can help provide scholarships, fund new program start-ups and assist with capital campaigns, Migler said.

Gutierrez: Grants are a big part of funding, Gutierrez said, and he has been successful in acquiring grants in the past and knows that landscape very well. He said community colleges need sources of income other than the state, or they’ll be status quo.

Why are online classes important, and would you work to install an online curriculum?

Migler: Every college needs to have an online strategy in place, he said. Online classes are important because flexibility is the key to the future, and the traditional model of a student going to college right out of high school is radically changing. Students may have jobs or families, he said, and they want options.

Gutierrez: Gutierrez said he is a strong proponent of online classes. It’s another way to serve the community, and it gives community members access, which is what a community college is all about. A single mom with kids might not be able to take courses if they weren’t available online, he said.

What is the role of the college a business incubator?

Migler: It seems a promising approach might be to partner with other people who get involved with business and see if you can pool resources, Migler said. The core of any business incubator is establishing an environment where businesses can get help, keep their costs low and work on establishing the business.

Gutierrez: Small businesses are the backbone of our nation. With business incubators, the college can work with the community to give an entrepreneur with an idea a nudge forward, he said. They could get administrative or IT help, while providing students with real-world experience in business.

What are your overall philosophies about educating and administrating?

Migler: Bringing people together and fostering relationships is important, he said. Migler said he tries to stay visible and connected in the community, and there are lots of opportunities for a small community college. The key is being connected to the community’s needs, he said.

Gutierrez: Being as transparent as possible and listening and communicating with both the college and the community is a priority, he said. Decisions should be based on what’s best for the students. Teaching is the priority, and the college needs people who are passionate about it. Lives get changed in the classroom, he said, not the president’s office.

Recommended for you