Associate Degree in Surveying/GIS at Cleveland State Community College Threatened

We have a situation concerning the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Surveying/Geographical Information Systems program at Cleveland State Community College (CSCC) in Cleveland, Tennessee. CSCC’s administration has made the decision to cut the program after the end of the upcoming fall semester.
The faculty and students involved in this program are fighting to save it. We feel that if this program is given adequate support by the administration that it will become a valuable asset to the Surveying profession in southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.
We would like to enlist your help in trying to save our program. We hope you might be able to help us inform other members of the Surveying profession of our plight by helping us to spread this information. Any assistance will be appreciated.

Robert (Bob) P. Taylor
167 Old Fort Road
Oldfort, TN 37362
423-338-8097 (Home) (Home)
423-751-2719 (Work) (Work)

Dear Surveying Professional;

Cleveland State Community College (CSCC), located in Cleveland, Tennessee, developed the coursework for a program that would lead to an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Surveying/Geographical Information Systems and began offering these courses in the fall of 2001.

This program was designed for those students interested in a career in the surveying and geographical information systems industry. It provides these students with the essential skills for success as a practitioner in the surveying and geographical information systems industry.

This program was developed through the combined efforts of Barry McCaskill, CSCC Technology Department Chair at the time, and Barry Savage, a local Registered Professional Land Surveyor and CSCC adjunct faculty member. The program was originally designed to prepare students for immediate employment. Even though it was not designed to be a transfer program, many institutions accept all or part of the coursework toward the bachelor’s degree. In the short time that this program has existed, it has developed the potential to evolve into more than what it was designed for.

Cleveland State’s surveying program received its first enhancement at about the same time the program was introduced in the fall of 2002. It was at this time that an articulation agreement was signed between CSCC and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) that would allow any student earning the A.S. Degree in Surveying/GIS at CSCC to transfer directly to ETSU to pursue a B.S. Degree in Surveying and Mapping Science.

The second enhancement came during the 2004 ACSM convention that was recently held in Nashville. It was at this time that Dr. Marian M. Clark approached Barry Savage to discuss a project that ESTU was working on and to see if CSCC would like to participate.
The reason that Dr. Clark consulted Mr. Savage is that even though he is an adjunct faculty member, he is the primary instructor for most of the introductory courses and all of the advanced courses in the program.

The project that Dr. Clark would like to set up consists of establishing satellite campuses at several community colleges in different parts of the state. ETSU would like to use “distance learning” technology to offer required lectures and labs that could enable interested students to earn a B.S. Degree in Surveying and Mapping Science at these satellite campuses. This program is still very much in its infant stage. The establishing of the other satellite campuses remains tentative at this time and depends on how successful the program is during its inaugural run scheduled to begin at Pellissippi State during the 2004 fall semester.

Even with the enhancements described above, it has been very interesting keeping the CSCC surveying program afloat during the past 2 years.

I think that we all can agree that the budgetary crisis in the state legislature last year really hit higher education hard in Tennessee. In order to accommodate the funds that were cut, community colleges like CSCC had to re-evaluate their budgets and make some hard decisions affecting their individual situation. Some of these decisions had a direct bearing on the survival of the surveying program at CSCC.

The budgetary decisions made and implemented by CSCC meant that there was less money for the Marketing Department to use to advertise and market the existence of the program. These budgetary decisions meant that money that was earmarked for surveying equipment purchases and computer equipment and software purchases was no longer available. These budgetary decisions meant that there were fewer classes being offered because the necessary instructors could not be hired. But even with all of these constraints, the CSCC surveying program survived and that is a testament to the dedication of the faculty and students associated with the program.

Barry Savage allowed the use of his personal equipment and computer software where necessary to conduct required classes and labs when necessary. Various surveying students were able to borrow their employers’ equipment and/or software when necessary.
Students and faculty made arrangements to meet outside of scheduled class times, started classes early and stayed late in order to complete necessary coursework. The students in the advanced classes assist Barry as needed in the introductory classes. In short, we did what we had to do.

Those of us associated with the CSCC surveying program recently received some bad news last week. It seems as if the decision is being made by the CSCC administration to cancel the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Surveying/Geographical Information Systems program after the 2004 fall semester. The main reason given for this decision is that we don’t average 18.9 students per class and that we haven’t graduated any students yet.

Those of us associated with this program have talked until we’re blue in the face with the administration trying to explain why the program is important and should be spared. We keep pointing out that it’s hard to get 18.9 students in a class when classes that are pre-requisites are canceled. It’s hard to offer classes when we don’t have the necessary equipment and/or software because the school cut the funds out. It’s hard to recruit new students when there are essentially no funds for marketing the program. The hardest thing is trying to get them to understand that ETSU is interested in including CSCC in their satellite campus program.

I will be one of the first graduates of this surveying program. I will be graduating after the end of this semester. I am also a CSCC adjunct faculty member. I am an instructor for one of the introductory classes and I assist Barry Savage in his labs as needed. I do what I can to turn Barry loose to spend more time with the advanced classes.

I feel that this program can become an asset to the surveying profession here in this area. We all know that future Surveyors will have to have a 4-year degree as a requirement for getting their licenses. There are not that many schools in this area that offer a 4-year degree in Surveying. According to my count there is 1 school in Tennessee (ETSU); the nearest school in Georgia is Southern Polytechnical Institute in Marietta; and the nearest school in Alabama is Troy State University. Having a program like this will definitely favor the Surveying profession here in this area.

I want to ask you a favor. Please think about the information I have given you. If you agree with what I have written, please contact the people I have listed below and let them know how you feel. If they get enough feedback, we may be able to save the surveying program at CSS.

Dr. Carl Hite
Cleveland State Community College
3535 Adkisson Drive
Cleveland, TN 37320

Dr. Frank McKenzie
Dean Of Business & Technology
Cleveland State Community College
3535 Adkisson Drive
Cleveland, TN 37320

Dr. Jean Fitch
Vice President For Academic Affairs
Cleveland State Community College
3535 Adkisson Drive
Cleveland, TN 37320