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2:59 PM Fri, Sept. 21st

Yavapai College outsources marketing and public relations to Wisconsin firm

Yavapai College officials, like educators throughout the state, are dealing with less revenue and looking for ways to cut expenses.

One step the college took on Tuesday was to outsource its public relations and marketing efforts, eliminating six full-time and two part-time employees in the office of public relations.

Instead of calling its action a layoff, YC officials are referring to it as a transition period.

College President Dr. James Horton told the Yavapai College District Governing Board Tuesday afternoon that a selection committee chose Interact Communications of Onalaska, Wis., to provide public information and marketing services. Interact is a national company that specializes in community colleges.

"We will save about $250,000 per year," Horton said. "We will use people when needed instead of staff. Interact will be onsite next week."

Community member Mary Glenn is upset about the college's plan to "send Arizona money out of state."

Glenn said, "This is terrible. I do not get what they're doing."

Glenn understands that the college, like other businesses, must make budget cuts, and everyone has to cut jobs and hours. "But saying you are going to outsource - this is crazy, this is wrong," Glenn added.

"How dare he," Glenn said of Horton. "This is (not loyal) to this community."

YC Human Resources Director Rose Hurley said the "transition period" is the result of the current economic trend.

"The college has to look seriously at different ways of doing business. Typically, that means looking if there are better ways of doing business," Hurley said.

In looking at how much money they could save by outsourcing, college officials issued a request for proposals (RFP) about two months ago. A selection committee interviewed four presenters, including the college's own department.

The committee, Hurley said, decided to award the services to Interact.

Dr. Susan Sammarco, director of the college's office of public information, learned in February that Horton planned to issue a national RFP for her department.

"I was told we were welcome to turn in a proposal," Sammarco said. "We found out about a month ago that we would be presenting our proposal to the committee and then learned this past week that the college had chosen a company out of Wisconsin."

She is aggravated, she said, because her department typically had a $230,000 budget but spent only $90,000. The advertising and marketing budget did not include salaries and benefits.

Sammarco submitted a bid of $96,000 that included a reduction in force of two full-time employees. Salaries and benefits would cost an additional $300,000 for four full-time employees and one part-time employee.

"The college has every right to go with new strategies," Sammarco said.

The college will keep the department's six full-time and two part-time employees on the payroll until July 16.

"We will work closely with the current employees to finish their projects and make a smooth transition," Hurley said. "We will work to find the employees new positions with Yavapai College to the best of our ability."

Sammarco and her employees will remain available for meetings, and the graphics department will not accept any new projects.

As far as finding employees new positions, "That is a common phrase the college uses when it makes changes. It is not realistic," Sammarco said.

Horton was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Hurley was not part of the selection committee and did not know the actual amount the college would pay Interact. She did say that Interact would "be coming in next week with a signed contract."