Riedel prepares to take over at LBWCC

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, December 25, 2008

Although Dr. Herbert Riedel does not officially take over as new Lurleen B. Wallace Community College president until Jan. 1, he has already been working hard on the job.

Riedel moved to Andalusia with his family Sunday and spent Monday and Tuesday at the college, participating in meetings with interim president Wayne Bennett and other members of the LBWCC faculty.

“Everything has gone smoothly,” said Riedel, who comes to Andalusia after serving as a vice president at Northeast Texas Community College. “The community has been very warm and welcoming to my family and I. We’ve already met several of our neighbors, and you can’t go anywhere in town without people saying, ‘hi.’”

Riedel said Monday and Tuesday he met with Bennett and Linda Hartin, chief financial officer at LBWCC. The primary subject of those meetings was the proration in the state education budget for the 2009 fiscal year. LBWCC will have to cut nearly $800,000 from its budget, but Riedel said the college has a strong plan to deal with the economic situation.

“Right now, we think can make a few moves to save about $285,000, and a lot of that is possible thanks to the strong enrollment the college had in the fall,” Riedel said. “For example, we can eliminate the internal mail runs between our campuses. We’ll come up with a system and have it set up to where if an administrator is traveling from one campus to the other, then he or she can bring the mail as well.”

Riedel said the remainder of the necessary budget cuts can be drawn from the school’s reserve fund. By state law, two-year colleges in Alabama are required to have at least two months of operating expenses in reserves. LBWCC has a little more than 3.7 months in reserves, which will still leave 2.8 months leftover even after removing the $515,000 necessary to meet the needed cuts.

“This is only a temporary solution,” Riedel said. “The (state postsecondary) chancellor (Bradley Byrne) is requiring all colleges to present an amended budget reflecting the proration by Jan. 9. That is really not sufficient enough time for us to thoroughly review. However, through good financial planning, we can take the money from the reserves and that will give us time to make the changes we need to make to the budget.”

No matter what changes need to be made at LBWCC in light of the proration, Riedel insisted that the college’s mission will not change.

“The core functions of academic instruction, workforce development and adult education will still be preserved,” he said. “It’s important for the community to know that LBW is going be a big part of economic recovery and economic well-being for our region.”