Bevill State’s interim president addresses chamber
by Rachel Davis
Jul 09, 2014 | 1329 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tom Huebner, interim president of Bevill State Community College, center, talks with Al Moore of Bevill State, left, and Charlie Cook of Alabama Power during Tuesday’s meeting of the East Walker Chamber of Commerce. Daily Mountain Eagle - Rachel Davis
Tom Huebner, interim president of Bevill State Community College, center, talks with Al Moore of Bevill State, left, and Charlie Cook of Alabama Power during Tuesday’s meeting of the East Walker Chamber of Commerce. Daily Mountain Eagle - Rachel Davis
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SUMITON — Bevill State’s Interim President Tom Huebner spoke to the East Walker Chamber of Commerce about the future, challenges facing the college and the caliber of staff and programs at the school’s five campuses.

He said he had received word just prior to the meeting that Gov. Robert Bentley said the flat state revenue would mean there was little to no chance of raises for those in the education system.

He also said there had been a 37 percent reduction in state money coming to institutions of higher learning, making Alabama the fourth lowest state in terms of money given to higher education.

He said Bevill State was hard hit by the changes to Pell Grant, including lowering the income of eligible households from $32,000 a year to $23,000. Huebner said that impacted 73 percent of Bevill's students, causing a larger impact than at the University of Alabama or Auburn University, where it impacted 20 and 13 percent of the students, respectively.

He also said that studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of the students coming from high school had challenges in at least one area that would require colleges to provide additional support for them, despite decreased funding.

He said that left the higher education system struggling to find other sources of revenue, through partnerships or other means.

“We have to understand our challenges; we have to engage our communities; we have to adapt to our environment and we also have to, at the same time, hold onto the values that make us unique and important. ... Change is good. I'm a guy who likes change because I’m a guy who is always thinking about how we can do better, how we can be better at what we do and what needs need to be met,” Huebner said.

Although the college is facing challenges in figuring out how to do more with less, Huebner said one challenge the school was not facing was quality of the staff.

He expressed confidence in the existing staff and leadership at the college.

"I've been blown away by the level of competence, the level of compassion and caring that the folks have at Bevill State," Huebner said.