Think, Know, Prove–Faculty Council Goals

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

UPDATE: Bumped up to increase visibility, catalyze caring, and give MathArt a Monday Morning Howdoyoudo!

On Thursday, April 15th, District Wide Faculty Council (a.k.a., FC4) President Keith McCoy addressed the Board of Directors. This was his statement:

Good afternoon to the Board of Trustees, Officers of the District, and guests.

I want to extend a special welcome to Chairman Chico and Chancellor Hyman. Faculty Council looks forward to working with both of you.

Textbook costs continue to be a concern for Faculty council. We will keep monitoring the practices of faculty and academic departments to ensure that decisions take into account financial impact to students. We hope to leverage our relationships with publishers like Pearson, whose textbooks we voluminously use across the district, to offer lower costs to students.

Faculty Council will continue to collaborate with Academic Affairs in order to provide sound and good academic policies. We will provide Academic Affairs with a list of “good practices” that we would like to see involved in the tenure process. Our goal is to make sure that the process is transparent and fair for all stakeholders.

As CCC prepares to conclude the spring semester, Faculty Council wants to assist the district and faculty with late syllabi or course approvals. As a result, we will hold a special session on May 5 in order to meet these needs.

I wish all a great day. I wish our student trustee, Antony Chungath, much success in his future endeavors. It was a pleasure watching him grow from a student into a leader.

Thank you.

Today’s topic is a forward looking one. Just as it is important to reflect on what has and hasn’t happened in a given year, it is equally important, while still in the thick of things to think about where we want to go; we should ask ourselves whether we hit this year’s goals, but also ask ourselves what new goals have arisen and which old goals remain.

President McCoy, in what I believe will be his last address to the board (Theresa reported that he’s taking a district gig next year), speaks of two areas of concern: text books and “good and sound academic policies,” specifically identifying tenure practices. I’m not sure what he means when he says, “We’ll keep monitoring the practices of faculty and academic departments to ensure that decisions take into account financial impact to students,” nor do I know what he means when he says, “We hope to leverage our relationships with publishers like Pearson, whose textbooks we voluminously use across the district, to offer lower costs to students.”

Not sure what the plan is for developing the “good practices list” either, but as I’ve said before, I’m a big proponent of making changes to that disaster, so I hope their list helps illuminate some of the shortcomings of our current system.

Our concern here, though, is with developing some ideas for next year’s Faculty Council’s (local and/or district wide. What are your most urgent areas of concern, issues that you’d like to see taken up by Faculty Council next year? What do you think Faculty Council (local or FC4) ought to be focused on? What are three things you’d like to see changed?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

12 thoughts on “Think, Know, Prove–Faculty Council Goals

  1. Thanks for posting this. I’m sure I’ll have something to say later but Saturday awaits. Who am I kidding, I’ll be doing some CAST stuff for the next hour.

  2. “Faculty Council will continue to collaborate with Academic Affairs in order to provide sound and good academic policies. We will provide Academic Affairs with a list of “good practices” that we would like to see involved in the tenure process. Our goal is to make sure that the process is transparent and fair for all stakeholders.”

    Who is ‘we’? What is “good”? Who are the “stakeholders”. Transparency and tenure process seem incompatible to me. 🙂

  3. Some “good practices” that should be implemented:

    1. Consistency in the tenure process across the district – each college seems to have it’s own definition of the “tenure process” with different requirements for portfolios, projects, and involvement. These should all be the same, especially since faculty can transfer to other colleges after tenure.

    2. No changes to tenure requirements AFTER a person is hired – this happened to several faculty when our dear ex-chancellor Watson required the Faculty Development Seminar for all untenured faculty as a condition of tenure. It’s probably happened other times as well (?).

    3. Transparency in the tenure process is essential, not just in the final decision, but throughout the process.

    We somehow need to ensure that faculty are receiving written feedback from peers and administrators throughout the entire process. If a faculty member is not performing up to standard in the classroom, they need to be told that from the first semester so that they have a chance to show improvement. They should not be left to continue performing “poorly” for 3 years and then be told that they could have made a minor adjustment, but because they didn’t they won’t be receiving tenure. Tenure should not be granted only if the faculty member has been continuously provided feedback and still failed to improve – and this must be documented.

    If the faculty member has a tenure project that is unsuitable for some reason, they must be told to either make changes or come up with a new project right away, so that they have time to improve it. Telling a faculty member that they will not be receiving tenure because the department or the college does not like their tenure project after it has been approved by all for the past 3 years is ridiculous. If there are problems or questions, they should be addressed throughout the process. A faculty member should only not be granted tenure if suggestions have been made (and documented) throughout the process, and the faculty member has ignored them.

    If the faculty member is “not a good fit” for the department, (don’t you just love that phrasing? From what I’ve seen, this basically means that if there’s one person who doesn’t like you, and they are loud enough and obnoxious enough to pester the administration, you won’t get tenure because the administration doesn’t want to deal with it) then that faculty member needs to be made aware of what they are doing wrong or how they can adjust so as to not cause tensions in the department. If a faculty member is not aware of the problem, how can they attempt to fix it? Of course, there are people whose personality conflicts with just about everyone, but they should be told that their behavior is causing discontent, and they should be given the chance to change. We are all mature adults (aren’t we?), so the department chair should be able to approach a faculty member and say, “It really bothers everyone in the department when you smack your gum during our meetings” (or whatever). If the faculty member blatantly ignores the message and shows no concern for their colleagues, then okay, that person is probably not “a good fit.” But only AFTER they have been made aware of the problem and chosen to ignore it rather than try to make amends should that person be denied tenure on this basis.

    • I like the second one a lot, UsuallyConfused. I think it’s only fair. We make that accommodation for students, so why not faculty. The third one, particularly the part about documented feedback, ought to be required by all departments, I think. Our department learned this one by experience. I thought that the feedback provided to the candidate through the forms in the portfolio was clear enough, but I was assuming that those would be read by the candidate. We eventually committed as a department to a committee letter explaining our analysis of the portfolio–ensuring the candidates would get annual, at least, feedback in writing, but even that might have been more blunt (and so better understood) if delivered in a face to face “throwdown” of sorts.

      I’m not sure about #1, though. I hear you on the transfer issue, and so for that reason agree that there ought to be minimums, but I’m a pretty big fan of state’s rights when it comes to the college. If we want to have a process that is more or less rigorous than the others, I think that ought to be allowed (as long as the faculty is committed to it). I agree, though, that when the process varies from administrator to administrator, fairness questions arise. For sure. Not to mention the politics…

  4. “Our goal is to make sure that the process is transparent and fair for all stakeholders.”

    Can we please stop using the word STAKEHOLDERS in the educational setting. Yes, I know we are a business and if we don’t have students, then we don’t have jobs or a district. Got it. Understood; but can we use language that is appropriate instead of reducing teachers and students down to objects of and for profit. I resent the objectification on behalf of our students and dedicated faculty members. It undermines the purpose of our educational institutions.

    More to follow, maybe…

    • Please do follow with more, Realist, … you are soooooo right! [Sadly, this topic is already well off screen, so no one will care anymore.] I really don’t like such jargon words as “stakeholders,” “clientele,” “challenge” (Hee, hee, … I once noted that the previous chancellor, in one of his addresses, used the word “challenge” something like 62 times in a 45-minute interval!], and, yes, even “learning” itself, becoming so popular in the academy. It is amazing how quickly this stuff spreads, and causes more confusion rather than clarity, in academe.

      • Hey MathArt,
        I’ve got to talk with PhiloDave and see if posting chapter 4 of The Shame of The Nation by Jonathan Kozol is an option.
        Kozol has so much to say about the “Work-related themes and managerial ideas [being] carried over into almost every classroom of the school”.

        For my part, I have made a conscience effort to stop using the word “work” in my classes. Student assignments are not work, neither is school. Students study. They are challenged to think. They do not get paid for doing this. They engage in critical thinking. Students complete projects not because they will get paid with cash, but because they will be rewarded in other valuable and immeasurable ways.

        I am always bothered by students coming to register and saying “gimme math” and “I’ll take english” as if they were ordering fast food. That’s not the way to view your educational career.
        Is that enough?

        • Not without permission. Like it or not, Realist, we’re still subject to the capitalist inventions of intellectual property.

          Habermas talked about the same idea in terms of “colonization;” the idea being that hegemonic ideologies work their way into fields of various natures through vocabulary and gradually transform the alternative schemas into parallel patterns (thus reinforcing their own hegemony and making resistance less likely).

          For a really amazing and (considering the topic) accessible description of these ideas (from Critical Theory) as they relate to Adult Education, check out Stephen Brookfield’s The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching (now available for free preview on Google books!)

          • Not a problem PhiloDave. I can understand and respect intellectual property. I’m pretty sure Kozol would not mind, but the publisher might have issues.

            So long as we can talk about it, all’s good.
            Thanks! For the reply and for the reading recommendation.

          • If you have his email, it might be worth asking…(or maybe it’s up on Google Books already?)

            Talking about Kozol is always a good way to spend time.

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