A much-anticipated Board of Trustees presentation on the Peralta Community College District International and Global Education Department has been postponed.
Peralta Vice Chancellor Margaret Haig told trustees last September that she intended to “conduct a review of the international education office, including the finances and the mission of the office,” with a report scheduled for the Jan. 24 meeting.
As late as last week the report was scheduled to be on Tuesday night’s trustee agenda, but was then pulled.
Jeff Heyman, Executive Director of Marketing, Public Relations and Communications for the four-college Peralta District, said that Haig was “still working on the report. We’re hoping to get it at the next board meeting.”
Peralta officials downplayed the delay.
Peralta’s International Education Department is responsible, in part, for recruitment and coordination of international students enrolling in the district’s four colleges. Because foreign student tuition fees go directly to the district—rather than being siphoned off first to the state and then a percentage filtered down as is done with tuition for in-state students—the International Education Department is considered a potential lucrative money-maker for the district.
Trustee Vice President Bill Withrow has estimated that the department presently brings in a net of $2.2 million to the district while operating on a $470,000 budget.
But trustees have complained that the international department could be bringing in far more money, and that has led to calls for reforming the department. Haig was hired last September as Vice Chancellor for Education Services in part because of her background in international education.
Haig’s announcement of her review of the international affairs department came during a contentious September trustee meeting in which several trustees expressed concerns about the operation of the department.
Withrow told Haig that “there is concern about this program in the community; it’s been shrouded in secrecy and there has been a lack of data.”
And Trustee Cy Gulassa criticized a report submitted by International Education Department Director Jacob Ng, who did not attend the September meeting.
Gulassa called the report “unacceptable to someone who’s trying to understand what’s going on in this program. If you’re going to Bangkok, let us know how many students later came to Peralta from Bangkok. And if you can’t answer that, maybe you shouldn’t be going to Bangkok.”
But while calling for accountability in the department, trustees balked at Trustee Marcie Hodge’s motion to abolish the department altogether.
Hodge has made reform of the international department a major effort. A month after the September trustee meeting, she sent out a brochure to constituents charging that the department “spends lavishly, traveling the world while tuition for students rises.”
Hodge called on constituents to “help me demand an end to this shameful waste.”
Allegations of fiscal mismanagement at the Peralta International Education Department led to an Alameda County Civil Grand Jury investigation, and is indirectly credited with the eventual firing of former Peralta Chancellor Ronald Temple.
Public Relations Director Heyman has said that the department has been significantly reformed since those days.
“These are events that happened in the past,” Heyman said late last year in response to Hodge’s charges that the International Education Department is misappropriating travel money. “They were looked into and worked on. We’ve done our duty. The issue isn’t relevant any longer.”
The Peralta trustees meeting will be held Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Peralta Administration Building, 333 East Eighth St. in Oakland.›