Dana Young, president of Treasure Valley Community College, stands in front of heavy machinery during a groudbreaking ceremony for the Career and Technical Education Center last year. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)

ONTARIO – The Treasure Valley Community College Board has extended President Dana Young’s contract through June 2026 and raised her pay $30,000 a year through various benefits. 

Board members cited Young’s “exceptional leadership” during the pandemic, pointing out that TVCC was the only community college in Oregon open for in-person instruction since the beginning of this past school year. 

But two of the six board members on May 6 voted against giving the president her $30,000 raise, arguing that the sum was “a slap in the face in these hard times.” 

“I said I’d be for that amount if we were bulging at the seams,” said board member Mark Wettstein. He said he would have gone along with a $10,000 increase, but that $30,000 was excessive.

“I like Dana Young, I think she’s doing a good job, but I just told (the other board members that) there’s no way you’re going to have any taxpayer from Malheur County come up to me and ask why I voted (in favor of the $30,000 increase),” Wettstein said. 

Young has been with TVCC since 2010 and is the second longest-serving community college president in Oregon. She currently earns $152,763 a year plus benefits including an annuity, car and phone allowances, and PERS contributions. 

This is “the lowest base salary among community college presidents in Oregon,” according to a press release from Abby Lee, vice president and spokeswoman for the college. 

“We do an annual evaluation for her, and this was probably the best one we’ve ever had,” said Cheryl Cruson, board chair. Cruson voted in favor of the raise. “She’s just doing an exemplary job.”

Board member Darlene McConnell, who also voted for the raise, said that the president’s achievements at TVCC included adding new programs, balancing the budget, and forming new business relationships in the community. She praised the president for overseeing the construction of two new buildings, the science center and the career and technical education building. 

“I think President Young worked really hard during this year of uncertainty and kept our college open when other community colleges were not open throughout the state. We were the only one,” McConnell said. “I feel she was on top of her game to be able to do that.” 

McConnell said that Young’s salary had always been a little “behind,” and that the board was acting on a chance to compensate her more fairly despite Covid.

“We’re going to have the pandemic aftereffects for probably several years, but I don’t like to see that as an excuse or a reason to give someone a raise or to not give someone a raise,” she said. “You can call that a reward or deserving, or you can just say it’s time.” 

Board member Roger Findley disagreed. 

Findley pointed out that this spring, students had accepted a $3-per-credit tuition increase expected to raise a net $95,000 for the college, and that the equivalent of nearly a third of that money would now be allocated as compensation for the president. 

“I thought that was a slap in the face to the students,” Findley said. 

Despite Cruson’s assertion that the board’s evaluation of the president this year was the “best one we’ve ever had,” Findley said that the board did a poor job of giving the president measurable goals. 

He said he felt “very critical” of the president’s performance, particularly in the aspect of declining enrollment. 

According to college data, full-time equivalency enrollment was down 5% during spring of 2021 from spring of 2020.  

McConnell, however, said that the raise wasn’t just about Young and her performance. 

“Somewhere along the line, if Young chooses to retire in the next 10 years, you’ve started to establish a salary that will attract a quality person to that position,” McConnell said. “I think we needed to be more competitive in the community college world. So I was in favor of that.”

News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.

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