State Amends NWACC Appropriations Act, Cuts Faculty and Counselor Positions
A March 18 article in Northwest Arkansas Newspapers reported state agencies realigned 90 positions at NorthWest Arkansas Community College, however, documents obtained by the Traveler show 130 were realigned, which is more than 15 percent of the college’s allotted workforce.
The NWACC director of public relations, Mark Scott, provided the amended House Bill 1364 for the 2012 fiscal year when asked which positions had been realigned.
Scott said that 90 was an approximation.
“We arrived at that number by taking the amended House Bill and comparing it with the original,” he said.
After an investigation of NWACC by the Office of Personnel Management staff and a review by the Department of Higher Education staff, the agencies worked with the college to realign positions, Scott said.
The original version of HB1364, which appropriates positions, salaries and number of employees at NWACC for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, had increased the number of academic advisers from last year’s number of eight to 10, but the amended version of the bill reduced this amount back to eight. This bill was amended before the legislature’s Personnel Subcommittee released it to the Joint Budget Committee.
The amendments increased the number of top administrative positions allotted to NWACC by 15, but diminished the financial impact of these new positions on the overall budget by reducing a number of positions that directly serve students, such as faculty, counselors and career planning/placement staff.
Although the amended bill reduced the number of administrative positions by 15, from 92 to 77, the cumulative maximum salary amount was nearly $100,000 higher than the original HB1364.
The amendments decreased the number of full-time faculty positions from 214 in the original version to 207 and the number of part-time faculty dipped from 544 to 513. The number of counselors decreased from 11 to five in the amended version.
The original version of House Bill 1364 increased the total of the salaries for top non-classified administrators by $953,277 above last year’s appropriations act, taking it from $5,802,474 to $6,755,751.
The amended version of HB1364, which has been released to the Joint Budget Committee by its Personnel Subcommittee, decreased the administrative salaries of the bill to a total of $5,894,997, an increase of $92,523 over the original appropriations act.
Comparisons of the original and amended HB also show that 19 top paying classified positions were added, mostly in the information and systems technology area.
A review of position group analysis reports provided by NWACC shows that many of the state positions allotted to the college by last year’s appropriations act were not aligned with the duties of the employees assigned to the positions.
The state position of chief student affairs officer, which has the NWACC title of vice president for college relations, held by Adam Arroyos, is responsible for public relations, marketing, and projects for the president and board of trustees. His job description does not mention any processes related to student affairs, such as admissions, enrollment, financial aid or academic records.
The college’s organizational chart indicates that Arroyos supervises employees in the marketing and public relations departments, but does not show any supervisory relationships to student affairs employees.
Arroyos was hired June 16 in the state title of division chairperson/dean with an NWACC title of executive dean for strategic initiatives. Two weeks after his hire, NWACC changed his state title to chief student affairs officer, which has a higher line item maximum salary of nearly $7,000. His NWACC title is listed as vice president of college relations as of March 18, according to NWACC’s position analysis.
The amended appropriations act shows the vice president of college relations as a new position for 2012.
Arroyos was hired at 21 percent over line item maximum, which schools are allowed to do if the candidate is exceptionally well-qualified, according to HB1414. Arroyos resume shows no higher education administration experience.
“ADHE does have standards that ensure general positions at universities are in line with each other,” ADHE communications coordinator Brandi Hinkle said in a March 22 interview.
Institutions do have latitude to fill their appropriated positions as they choose, Hinkle wrote in a March 28 email regarding the Arroyos position and hiring practices.
“We have to trust that the administration and trustees know what is best for the school,” she said, adding that the board of trustees answers to the Governor.
Similar alignment discrepancies exist within the counselor positions, according to the position analysis.
The associate vice president for operations, James Hessler, has been assigned to one of the counselor positions by NWACC. His job duties include directing and overseeing campus functions such as construction projects, maintenance and security, according to documents retrieved from NWACC.
The duties of a counselor are to serve as an academic advisor or personal counselor for students and oversee programs that respond to the needs of local communities.
Other positions NWACC is using as counselor are the associate vice president for global business and development, the director of budget and analytical service and the executive director of community and government relations.
The decrease in these key positions comes during a time when the college has seen significant increases in student enrollment. The Joint Budget Committee must approve HB1364 before it can move forward.