The embattled Community Colleges of Baltimore County will undergo a far-ranging "institutional review," beginning this month with scores of interviews conducted by four outside education experts.
The review is part of the changes demanded by county and state officials after the brief, turbulent tenure of Chancellor Daniel J. LaVista, who was hired in 1995 to reorganize the three-college system and fired in January because of "irreconcilable differences" with the board of trustees.
The experts, chosen by James Lee Fisher, a former Towson University president who is a consultant to the colleges, will hold confidential interviews with more than 100 people, including faculty members, students, alumni, public officials and benefactors.
The team will produce "specific, unequivocal recommendations"
in nearly all administrative and academic areas of the Catonsville, Dundalk and Essex colleges, Fisher said yesterday.
The Board of Trustees probably will get the report in September and may accept, reject or modify the recommendations. "It will be a very candid review," Fisher said, adding that he will recommend that the report be made public.
He also said the report will help in the search for a chancellor to succeed Harold D. McAninch, the interim chancellor whose term expires in December.
Team members are David R. Pierce, president of the American Association of Community Colleges; George B. Vaughn, professor of higher education at North Carolina State University and former president of Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, N.C.; James V. Koch, president of Old Dominion University; and Paul E. Wisdom, who retired recently after a career that included senior posts at Florida Institute of Technology, Colorado State University and Towson University.
The turmoil left by the LaVista regime led to a shake-up of the trustees and the appointment of former state Sen. Francis X. Kelly as board chairman to oversee a reorganization of the system, Maryland's largest.
Of the review, Kelly said in a statement issued yesterday: "We'll get a very objective view of where we are so that we can determine where we need to go."
The "institutional review," a term Fisher said he coined, is designed to consider strengths, limitations and aspirations for nearly every aspect of the community college system, which has about 70,000 students and an annual budget of $83 million.
The review will include the general condition of the colleges; academic programs; faculty, students, administration, budget and finance; senior officers; alumni, private support and outside grants; governance and the characteristics needed in the next chancellor.
Fisher said team members are "eminently qualified" and were chosen for their experience in conducting such reviews. He said none has any "investment" in the outcome of the review.
"It is not a back-scratching exercise, like accreditation reviews," he said. "It is not at all political."
Fisher, who is paid $25,000 quarterly, would not say how much the experts will be paid.
Pub Date: 7/03/97