Johnson County Sun editorial against wasteful $125,000 “image consultant” at JCCC

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Trustees make bad decision

POSTED: 9:36 am CST March 1, 2011

A recent decision by the Johnson County Community College trustees tarnished the image of JCCC, an institution that takes its image seriously.

At the Jan. 27 Board of Trustees meeting, JCCC officials told trustees that expected dismal assessed valuations in the county will force them to make cuts in the college’s budget, including reducing staff through attrition and layoffs, and eliminating videotaping of trustee meetings.

Later in the same meeting, JCCC officials proposed, and trustees unanimously approved, a contract with Bernstein-Rein Advertising Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., to update the college’s image at a cost not to exceed $120,500.

With this action trustees let down Johnson County taxpayers, whose tax dollars support the college, and the college employees who could soon lose their jobs.

College officials said the “re-branding” is needed because JCCC is a “best-kept secret.”


Several Kansas governors have described JCCC as the “gem of Kansas colleges” and it is the envy of not only community colleges throughout the state, but also many four-year universities.

We understand the college’s desire to update an outdated logo and to consolidate all of its entities under one brand. But implementing the change certainly will cost more than the $120,500 as the college replaces printed materials and changes signs on vehicles and buildings. The changes will happen over time, but even college officials told trustees that rebranding will not save the college money, but “could” provide future enrollment gains. Officials anticipate an enrollment decline after the economy improves.

JCCC’s current enrollment of 19,540 is at an all-time high. Classrooms and instructors are at a premium. Class sizes have increased.

The college has always adjusted to meet the demand, whether up or down.

But if the college really wants a new brand, why not turn to its own capable students?

The college’s graphic design students recently won 28 out of 36 ADDY awards at the American Advertising Federation awards show, including the top honor.

Getting students involved in this project would save the college $120,500 and allow some staff members to keep their jobs, a fact brought up by Board President Don Weiss.

But Weiss joined board members Jon Stewart, Bob Drummond, Jerry Cook, Lynn Mitchelson, and Stephanie Sharp (Trustee Melody Rayl was not at the meeting) in unanimously approving the $120,500 rebranding proposal.

They listened to JCCC President Terry Calaway tell them of impending staff layoffs, then voted to spend money that might have saved a few of those jobs.