City College of SF considers class sponsorship

June 25, 2009 7:37:42 PM PDT
A controversy over commercialism at City College of San Francisco. Should classes be sponsored in much the same way as football stadiums and golf tournaments?

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What would a college be, if not for controversy? They had one at City College of San Francisco.

It's red line furor for Fred Chavaria, who runs the justice and fire science programs.

Each means cancelled class. City College expects 800 of them next fall from a $25 million budget deficit.

Then Chancellor Fon Griffin started talking. It was just an off-handed idea -- sponsorship for cancelled classes. Pay $6,000, save the class and get your name on it.

"If the taxpayers don't want to sponsor us, we need to find individuals and organizations that are willing to invest in community colleges," said Chavaria.

After all, sponsors stick their names everywhere else from football games, to stadiums, to spelling bees. So why not English composition, 101?

Well, some academics have issues with it. What if a sponsor wants to name a class, and then dictate content?

Nina Mogar, in the Child Development Department, bristled at the suggestion. Milton Marks, who runs the board, is looking for common ground.

"I think we can in a robust way, go out there and raise money, as long as it isn't one name attached to a class," said Marks.

As Marks said, Tom Boegel already had a feeler for a chemistry class, from a chemistry company. He likes the idea of having just cut 65 classes from math and science.

"Every class we get back is another opportunity for our students," said Boegel.

The board will discuss this idea tonight in a meeting expected to proceed without commercial interruption.

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