Highlights from the Board Report: February and March 2014

Highlights from the Board Report is a monthly irregular feature that highlights what one person finds to be important from the most recent Board Report. We read it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

(UPDATE: Apologies if you tried the links and found them less than helpful. I believe they are fixed now. h/t to Jenny Armendarez for the tip.)

So it’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to know. As we swing into budget season, I thought it might be worth doing again. Not only that, but there’s some great news that I want to highlight on the Intertubes for perpetuity.


~Congratulations to our colleagues who earned tenure (Samar Ayesh, Luke Belz, Tony Florez, Janette Gayle, Joe Hinton, Sarah Kakumanu, Erica McCormack, Megan Ritt, Ray Tse, and Phil Vargas) and contract renewals (Cynthia Cerrentano, Amy Rosenquist, LaNisha Thomas)! The tenure group is a really amazing class and not least because they are so unfailingly collegial with each other and everyone else. Almost as amazing as the class of 2003 (here and here). I’m excited to see what they will have done at the end of their tenth year. And congratulations to our colleagues at other schools, too, though I’m left wondering what in the world is going on over at Kennedy-King? Out of 21 candidates, there were 3 resignations, 2 non-renewals, and an extension. Something isn’t working over there.

~There were some changes to VP approvals for cross-college assignments and overtime (related to CDL, no doubt). Now both VPs have to sign off instead of just the home college VP. Have fun with that!

~Some hiring happened, including a new IT Director at HW. Remember when District saved us all that money by consolidating all the IT jobs on Jackson? And now each college has Directors, Managers, and all kinds of stuff. Fascinating.

~Presidents hired consultants.

~Our Faculty Council President reported that she got a new one-way email up and running. yay.


~Love the looks of the new Maternity/Paternity Leave policy. It only applies to non-bargained for employees, though. Hopefully it will make it into the new adjunct contract, if they ever get such a thing. Speaking of, when will that union get one? They’ve been teaching all year under an expired contract, yet, not a peep. Does their leadership not realize that 2/3rds (more actually) of our faculty are adjuncts? What did they say at the State of the College? 287 adjuncts? That’s compared to 120 or so full-time faculty. That’s a lot of potential disruption. Granted, they’re not all unionized, but still. A glance at The Adjunct Project tells the story of their pay relative to others who do their work (and it’s embarrassing).

~Concealed carry may be legal in Illinois, but it’s still not allowed on campus (which I’m personally happy about, lest we have to seek an answer to this puzzling question).

~Speaking of things related to “pay” and “embarrassing” there was hiring in March, and we have another new $100,000 Associate Vice Chancellor–this one is the Vice Chancellor of Decision Support (I swear I am not making that up). It’s a “new position,” too. (This suggests two things, immediately: 1) I want to have a contest for coming up with the most ridiculous VC or AVC title to be created and filled in FY15, with a pie of your choosing going to the winner; and 2) did anyone attend the “Meet the Vice Chancellors” gig (other than administrators)? And if so, how many were there? Was the two hour meeting taken up by introductions? Did some of them have to stand in the lobby so there was room for an audience? File your report in the comments if you went. In happier news on the hiring front, Tasha Williams, who was always great here, has been promoted to Dean of Student Services at Malcolm X. Congrats to her.

~The board approved a big contract for new furniture system-wide. The vendor is “responsible for working with CCC to design classroom furniture layouts, purchase, assemble, and install selected furnishings, and dispose of existing furniture district wide.” The first deliverable listed is, “Design classroom furniture layout for each classroom with faculty input.” We’ll see what that means, I guess. Anyway, I’m interested in this. I’ve been looking for info and research on classroom arrangements fo a year now and found very little.The only thing I’ve found is this from a book called Participatory Workshops by Robert Chambers that I borrowed from our CAST room.

~Various other things were purchased by Presidents who aren’t packing for Vermont.

~According to the Provost, GradesFirst is a big success. They also gave us a look at “a day in the life of academic affairs.

~Pathways are an amazing success, too, we’re told, though if I’d seen this pathways presentation, which has to be one of the worst examples of PowerPoint usage that I’ve seen, I would have been struggling to stifle my giggles while thinking of THIS (called “Dear Presenter, Please Don’t Drive Me to Suicide During Your Presentation;” the language is salty, but right on in my humble).

~The Inspector General is on the job, too. More complaints, more investigations, more punishments (though only 32 of 256 complaints were sustained; in baseball language, that’s well below the Mendoza Line. I know that’s not really their fault, but one wonders at the wisdom of so much money and time and effort going to an office with a 12.5% success rate. Oh, is that an unfair measure of what they do? Does that fail to take into account the inputs? Join the club. But I digress.

~Faculty Council President Cristina Aguila said something, but I don’t know what because it hasn’t posted yet. I’m guessing that it was about how much communication has improved, and the IRB, and distance learning. That’s just a guess, though,

Cognitive Dissonance: Offensive Team Names Edition

Cognitive Dissonance is a regular Monday feature in which a post is presented that, if read, may provoke “a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.” I hope these pieces will provoke thought, if not conversation.

Given that it’s the Monday after the Super Bowl and there are still lingering football conversations to be had and this one has a history of some controversy on this site, I thought I might toss this one out there today:

Did you see it? Do you care? Do you have any interest in the team’s activities to preserve the name? Or in the origins of the name?

Would you like to see a nuanced explanation of one somewhat-ambivalent Native American man’s analysis of the term and the controversy that makes connections to African-American culture and history?

I thought you might.

Tragic News: HWC Student Shot Yesterday

UPDATE: Kevin Baker died early this morning. He wanted to be a veterinarian.

Awful. From the Tribune article:

A 19-year-old college freshman handed over his cell phone to an armed robber and was still shot in the head as he walked home in the Chicago lawn neighborhood, according to police and a relative.

The robbery happened about 4:15 p.m. Thursday in the 6200 block of South Campbell Avenue, police said…

The 19-year-old, described by the relative as a studious freshman at Harold Washington College, was hit in the head and the assailants fled.

The teen was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center and listed in critical condition.

Think hopeful thoughts.

No Need for Term Limits: And then there were 3

In case you’re keeping score at home, since the “Presidential Shake-up” of 2011, and the mass hiring that June (except for the KK President who was hired in November of that year), the lineup card of CCC Presidents looks like this:

HW: Don Laackman (2011-2013); search underway shortly;

DA: Jose Aybar (2009-Current);

KK: Joyce Ester (2011-2013); Arshelle Stevens (2013-Current–who has her critics);

MX: Anthony Munroe (2011-Current);

OH: Craig Follins (2011-2014); search underway;

TR: Reagan Romali (2011-Current–though she almost left last year);

WR: Jim Palos (2011-2012); Don Laackman (interim); David Potash (2013-Current);

At the press conference announcing their hiring, the Mayor said, ““With this leadership, CCC will be ready to realize its potential as the economic engine of our region and ensure Chicagoans are prepared with the skills to succeed in today’s competitive global economy.” I guess the job was one that didn’t take very long?

Big HWC News: President’s Office Now Hiring

Don has a new gig.

Congratulations to Don–it looks like a great fit.

And as for us, it’s on to our fourth president in five years; we’re going to need a bigger library if this keeps up!

UPDATE: More from around the web…

~From the Burlington Free Press (with video)

~From Crain’s (with some oddly personal details)

~From a Champlain faculty member’s blog

~From the other coast (well, the AP, but picked up in San Fran)


In The News

You may have missed it amid the finals hoo-hah, but Hector Reyes (Physical Science), Rochelle Robinson-Dukes (VP, CCC faculty and professionals union), Dolores Withers (President,  clericals’ union), and Floyd Bednarz (President, adjuncts’ union) wrote a letter that garnered some national news coverage. The comments section of the latter is particularly interesting, I thought. There’s even a cool image on the HWC union website that you can print out and put up somewhere if you’re of a mind to do so.

In other news near and dear to Hector’s heart, AAUP investigators issued a report condemning the President of Northeastern Illinois for retaliation against a professor there (coverage here and here).

The Bloom Is Off the MOOC

The big news this week is that Sebastian Thrune seems to have backtracked a bit from his early zeal about their potential. Why is that news? Well, he is one of the original Prophets of MOOC–maybe the best known proselytizer of them who quit Stanford to found a company dedicated to higher-ed disruption–seems to have discovered the limits that Juan Nunez (English) mentions in his comment on the Don’s Desk post.

Surely you’ve heard of MOOCs by now, perhaps vis-a-vis this April Don’s Desk post or coverage in The Chronicle. No doubt the conversation (and innovation) is far from over (nor should it be, as this writer states), but there are some important critical conversations to be had and lessons to be learned about experimenting on students educational reforms.

Next Up!

Next up! is a regular feature on Sundays, showcasing HWC (and beyond) events in the coming week. Send notice of upcoming events that you want publicized to me (drichardson2@ccc.edu). Use the “Comments” section to provide updates, additions, and corrections!

The Midterm is upon us! Hard to believe that at the end of this week the semester is half over.

Monday, 10/14: HWC Transfer Fair (10:30-2pm, Rm 102);

Tuesday, 10/15: CAST Event: Active Viewing Techniques (2pm, Rm 1046); CAST Event: HWC and Student Harassment [of faculty], (3pm, Rm 1046);

Wednesday, 10/16: Business as usual, as far as I know;

Thursday, 10/17: HWC Career Fair (10am-3pm, Rm 102); Union Meeting (2pm, Rm 1115);

Friday, 10/18:  Ephrem-Palooza a.k.a, Blackboard Innovation Conference (8am-3pm, Multiple Locations–click HERE to register);

Saturday, 10/19: Be sure to enter those Midterm ADWs. Sunday the 20th is the deadline, and the ADWs have to be done before you can enter your midterm grades.

Next Up!

Next up! is a regular feature on Sundays, showcasing HWC (and beyond) events in the coming week. Send notice of upcoming events that you want publicized to me (drichardson2@ccc.edu). Use the “Comments” section to provide updates, additions, and corrections!

25% of the semester is in the books. 12 weeks until finals.

Monday, 9/23: Teatro de las Chicanas Presentation and Panel (12:30pm, Rm 1115); Lessons of the Holocaust–Les White’s Father Visits (5:30pm, rm 1115);

Tuesday, 9/24: Business as usual as far as I know;

Wednesday, 9/25:Lessons of the Holocaust–Les White’s Father Visits (12:00pm, Rm 1115);

Thursday, 9/26: Blood Drive (9am-3pm, Rm. 102);

Friday, 9/27: Business as usual as far as I know;

Saturday, 9/28: Business as usual as far as I know.

Cross Talk: Math Addition*

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

~The Monty Hall Problem: A clear explanation of the math behind a classic of game theory.

~A Most Profound Math Problem: Solved?

~Life in the City is Essentially One Giant Math Problem: Formulas and everything.

~Tonight’s Powerball is $425 Million, Should I Play?: The math of Powerball.

~The Man Who Invented Modern Probability: A profile of Andrei Kolmogorov

*Yes. On purpose.

Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is a regular feature with three links to fascinating, provocative, or particularly well-written, (usually) long-form pieces collected over the last three years. There will not be a test, but there may be a theme.

As I am sure you are breathlessly aware, Monday is the (pushed back) kick-off for CCC’s “Open Book” big data project.

From your email:

Over the last ten months, the OpenBook team has worked together to create a truly unique data system for the City Colleges of Chicago.  We’ve taken our goal of a data democracy seriously and have built entirely new tools and features that will help OpenBook be a system that is intuitive and easy-to-use for everyone -while providing enough power and complexity to grow with our needs for years to come.

It has been a massive undertaking, but we’re ready to officially open this system for use to every administrator, faculty and staff member at CCC.  We are pleased to announce that OpenBook will officially launch on September 16th, 2013.

What should you know? Well, maybe you learned enough looking at the district office team’s presentation on their project (a version of which was shown during DWFDW). Also, there is a lot of great information out there: big data is a big topic–described as the “steam engine of our time” and as a potential (and real) danger to privacy and as an answer to urban troubles of all sorts, and that’s just on NPR! Some people from the business world see immense promise, others wonder if it’s a kind of mirage.Meanwhile, educators seeing the business trends are scrambling to figure out how to put their huge volumes of data on students to work, as here (mini-grants), here (getting poor kids into better colleges), and here (student performance and advising). Other academics are working retroactively as this fascinating project called “Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere.”

Maybe you’ve read the book, Big Data (interesting reviews  here and here). Or maybe you’re on the side of the skeptics and heard about or checked out the work of one of my current intellectual heroes, Evgeny Morozov, whose book To Save Everything, Click Here is my #1 current book recommendation for anyone and everyone (you can get a taste of his ideas and his voice HERE or in this interview). Maybe you don’t read books. That’s ok.

Maybe you read one of the many stories (as here) detailing the role of big data in the last presidential election. Maybe not. That’s fine. You could take a free, self-paced class on data analysis if you’d prefer. Perhaps you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, yet, though.

You should still know some stuff about “big data” and education. Here are three places you can go to learn about Big Data before the public launch of CCC’s big data project:

~The Rise of Big Data: Unfortunately, this was once free (pretty sure), but is not behind a paywall because it’s been archived. It’s by the authors of Big Data, one of those articles-cum-advertisements/abridgments for a bigger book. Still, maybe you will be interested enough after reading the first few paragraphs to spring the five bucks for it (or better, use a library to read the article (or the book) for free!). Failing that, type “Big Data” into EBSCO and click on whatever you fancy.

~The Meme Hustlers: Evgeny Morozov writes about the language of the advocates of technological solutionism and one particularly effective purveyor of what common techie discourse. You will talk differently after reading this.

~The Tech Intellectuals: A who’s who of the advocates (and critics) of technology talk and theory. Along the way there is lots of good stuff about the fault lines related to the topic.


And whatever else, let’s not forget that data is one thing and interpretations of it are another. Should be interesting, regardless.

Adjunct Solidarity Day

Hope you are wearing red today to show your support for our adjuncts as their union continues negotiations on a new contract. Anyone who has done it knows that it is a hard road to walk. And it is a mistake to think that they are second rate teachers; research shows that many of them are excellent–even better than their full time colleagues. It is also a mistake to think that what happens to them doesn’t affect the rest of us, and it is ridiculous to ignore what is happening to them everyday. To wit:

Un-Hired Ed: The Growing Adjunct Crisis
Source: Online-PhD-Programs.org