Retired US Forest Service supervisor Bob Rice and chiropractor Dr. Robert Underwood are vying for one seat on the College of the Siskiyous board of trustees to represent the Montague area.

Retired US Forest Service supervisor Bob Rice and chiropractor Dr. Robert Underwood are vying for one seat on the College of the Siskiyous board of trustees to represent the Montague area.

All residents of the COS district will vote for trustees in each areas, not just their own, so south county residents will cast their vote in the Area 5 race.

Rice, an incumbent who was first elected to the COS board in 1992, said he’s running for a sixth term to continue expanding the Natural Resources and Fire Science programs. He encourages voters to “keep our trustee team together” by voting for him and fellow incumbents Carol Cupp and Barry Ohlund.

Underwood, a longtime resident of Montague, said he has “vast experience” running boards and being successful. He was asked to run to represent Area 5 on the COS board and believes the current trustees have “no competence in managing personnel,” which has led to problems on campus.

Below (in the order they filed paperwork with County Clerk Colleen Setzer) is information about each candidate and their views on several issues facing COS today.

Bob Rice

Rice is a graduate of the University of Minnesota in Forest Management and Resources. He’s a former Forest Supervisor of the Klamath National Forest and ecology instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College. All three of his children have attended a community college on their way to getting bachelor and master’s degrees, he said.

“My strengths are in people management and understanding the fiscal complexities associated with state appropriations,” said Rice, who has served as a COS trustee for 20 years.

Rice said the current COS board is concentrating on expanding enrollment to 3,000 full time equivalent students, and to accomplish this goal, educational opportunities will need to “better fit” the industries in Siskiyou County.

“I’m currently initiating course study expansion in Natural Resources and Fire Science. Being familiar with agriculture (200,000 acres of tillable and irrigated land) in our three valleys I am pursuing a program... to encourage many of our nine high school graduates to attend COS,” Rice said.

When asked about the two recent votes of no confidence in the college president and vice president of student learning, Rice said this can be seen as “suggestions for climate change.”

Rice said he’s encouraged the college administrators to “provide leadership necessary to fiscally keep this college operating during California’s financial crisis.”

“The board of trustees annually provides budget assumptions to the administrators and through the procedures agreed upon in the Shared Governance Agreement. Faculty have the opportunity to present their suggestions,” Rice said. “Right now COS’s financial stability depends on how we collectively address state-led fiscal issues.”

Rice said the college has two plans: one if Proposition 30 doesn’t pass with voters on Nov. 6, and a second if it does.

“My take is not with the faculty or the college staff. They are represented in the collective bargaining process with different views on financial health than those of the trustees. We are at impasse and a mediator has been retained to find the solutions.”

Rice continued, “For the most part we have the finest set of technology tools and the most modern facilities at both campuses in the State of California. We need to put the tools to use and fill the classrooms.”

Robert Underwood

Underwood has been a Siskiyou County resident since 1977. He is a member of the Elks and the Masonic Lodge and is the founder of a non-profit Adult Learning school for developmentally disabled people.

Underwood said COS has several problems that need to be addressed. First and foremost, he said, is straightening out the personnel issues, which have led to animosity between some of the faculty and the administration.

“A high turnover rate points to a personnel management problem,” Underwood said, adding that in his opinion, the current board can be unprofessional at times.

Though he hasn’t seen the college’s budget personally, Underwood said he believes endowments and extra fundraising would be beneficial to supplement the state income that has been “stolen by the governor and legislature.”

Underwood said $8 billion has been taken from the state’s community college trust fund, in much the same way the federal government has raided the Social Security fund.

To address dwindling enrollment, Underwood said implementing apprenticeship programs for professions like carpenters and diesel mechanics could attract more students.

“It all comes down to providing a service to the community,” Underwood said.

He pointed out the superior fire program COS currently has, and suggested expanding that excellence to police training courses as well as making academic programs “second to none.”

“The talent is there,” Underwood said, “it’s just not properly organized... If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Without change, there is no progress. You’re either progressing or retrogressing.”