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A reporter's perspective on City College, from the Chronicle's Nanette Asimov

The story at City College of San Francisco has had a lot of twists and turns since last year, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s higher education reporter, Nanette Asimov, has been one of the public’s main sources for information on it. She sat down with KALW’s Ben Trefny to talk about how the school got to where it is today, and where it’s going next.

BEN TREFNY: Do you see the situation at City College to be emblematic at all of what's going on in public higher education on the whole? I mean, CCSF has so many different services we talked about, the number of people who live and work in San Francisco and the surrounding areas who get adult education there, ESL, vocational training, GED's and enrichment classes, what does it say about the status of City College?

NANETTE ASMIOV: Well, I think the recession, the economic crisis that has swept the country over the last number of years, has just shaken education to the core. And it's caused a lot of these problems, and the reason is that it's hard that when your budget drops so precariously – I can't tell you exactly how much City College has lost, but it's like millions and millions of dollars, as have other colleges around the country. What do you do about that? You can either realize that you have to downsize your, what you're doing, you're maybe going to have to maybe lay people off, you're going to have to offer fewer classes, you're going to have to – if you're doing enrollment management properly, if your college is well run, you can sadly shrink to fit the budget that you have. But if your college doesn't have those controls in place, then, you're just in trouble. And that happens to a lot of colleges, that really aren't properly run, so what's happening across the country is now the forced look at, “Wow, how do we run our school?” and “Are we in a good position to shrink if we need to? Or grow if we need to?" And that's what's happening to City College, and that's what's happening to other schools as well.

Click the audio player above to hear the complete interview. 

Crosscurrents Education
Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.