Horticulture program closure leaves community uprooted

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TCC’s Northeast Campus was the horticulture hub for students that were interested in learning agriculture, how to cultivate a garden, and sustainable practices.
TCC’s Northeast Campus was the horticulture hub for students that were interested in learning agriculture, how to cultivate a garden, and sustainable practices.

by Zach Redwood
Northeast Campus Editor

Tulsa Community College’s horticulture program has been cancelled. According to Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Cindy Hess, current financial situations have caused consideration for the program to be discontinued.

Horticulture Coordinator Cherlyn Reeves tells that on April 7 she received the email describing the cancellation of the program. This was a shock to Reeves who was not informed of the news until she received the email.

The last time the Connection spoke with Reeves, Sonora Meadows traveled to the Dick Connors Correctional Facility horticulture extension in Hominy Oklahoma to visit and highlight some of the great things that TCC’s own program does.

In the proposal, Hess suggests that the school discontinue the AS and AAS degree programs that are currently offered at the Northeast Campus. This will also cause Reeves and two other part-time staff members to lose their jobs. However, the school will continue to provide the inmates in Hominy the opportunity for horticulture training and experience.

On April 8, the Tulsa Garden Center hosted Springfest, an annual garden celebration featuring gardening experts and a wide selection of plants and flowers.

“I was absolutely devastated. I think it’s one of the worst things that’s ever happened to Tulsa,” said Gene Rodgers, a club president at the Tulsa Garden Center.

During Spring Fest, the many gardening patrons spoke to the news of the program’s closure.

“Oklahoma is all about horticulture, why would we go without it?” asked Rodgers

Reeves responded to the news with a two-page letter stating the simple facts regarding Dr. Hess’s letter. Reeves’ response explained the growth of the program since her tenure began, enrollment totals, recent and upcoming graduations, students that received jobs after graduation, and TCC’s award-winning Aquaponics fish study.

“It saddens me a lot. I think that it’s a real loss for the community. I think it’s an absolute shame and I hope that they will change their mind,” told Director of the Tulsa Garden Center Barbie Arnei.

“It would be a huge loss for the horticultural community and the people who want to learn more about horticulture or have a career in horticulture. We get a lot of people here at the Garden Center who started their career at TCC.”

On April 21 the impending meeting to discuss the programs closure was held at the Northeast Campus. Cherlyn Reeves went to bat for her program, but there was no budge in TCC’s stance.

“The meeting was standing room only. [There were] 15 speakers and some said they would even teach for free and they still shut the program down, even though they got their facts wrong. It was a good fight but it seemed to be a done deal.”

 

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