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TCC Trustees Talk Budget, Graduation And New Programs Amid COVID-19 Upheaval

Tallahassee Community College
The main building of Tallahassee Community College

Bracing For Budget Cuts

Tallahassee Community College trustees got a deep dive Monday on the impact the Coronavirus is having on the school. The board touched on the possibility of budget cuts, to new programs, and got a preview on what students can expect for a graduation ceremony.

College President Jim Murdaugh says the school is working on three different budget-cutting scenarios, a 5%, 10% and 20% reduction. There’s one area Murdaugh is promising not to cut: current employees.

“That’s a near and dear value to me,” he told his board Monday. “What it does, however, is it deals with vacancies, accumulating…dollars, it deals with severely cutting travel and some other sorts of things.”

Murdaugh expects the legislature to come back sometime this summer for budget cuts. Governor Ron DeSantis has promised vetoes are on the way as the state prepares for a sharp decline in revenue because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. TCC is lobbying the governor’s office to preserve the $650,000 lawmakers allocated for a nursing initiative at TCC.

Keeping Tabs On An Evolving Job Market

The school is also keeping tabs on changes to the state’s job market brought about by COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Florida’s community and state colleges are geared toward being more responsive to local and regional business needs. COVID-19 has ravaged the state’s hospitality and tourism-related industries, but TCC Provost Madeline Pumariega notes she’s seeing an uptick in other kinds of jobs.

“An area that emerged that we are lining up our business program, happens to be insurance and liability. That industry gained jobs during the month of March. And I think we’re going to have to keep our pulse on those kinds of industries,” she said.

That’s not saying TCC will start up a program anytime soon, but Pumariega says it’s something to watch. The school’s trustees approved the creation of a new associate’s degree in cybersecurity during its meeting.

TCC To Offer A Different Take On Graduation

While most schools, colleges, and universities are moving graduation ceremonies online, Tallahassee Community College is going a different route. The school won’t hold such a virtual ceremony like the one Florida A&M University is planning—where students’ names are called. Instead, the school is creating a video to air the same night as the originally scheduled commandment ceremony.

“We’re sending out with the help of the foundation… a packet that will arrive in their homes commencement week. It will have everything from alumni pins and gifts, to a program, letters from the President, and an invitation to that special video debut… and we hope that they’ll gather around with their families and that they will watch this,” said university spokesman Al Moran.

The school is calling its graduation recognition program “A Night To Remember”. It’ll still be conducted online with a video to debut at 6:30 p.m. on March 2nd.