Notes from the Reinvention Forum

Rather than type up a word for word, blow by blow account of yesterday’s (seemingly successful) Faculty Forum on the Reinvention, I’m going to summarize and synthesize the major ideas for any of you who couldn’t make it for one reason or another. We had a pretty good turnout (somewhere around 25 faculty with representation from all of the departments, I think, along with most of Faculty Council, President Metoyer and VP Hader) and found out some interesting things.

#1) After presenting to us, and getting the feedback she got, it seems that the Chancellor and her team went into revision mode and have been thinking about the need to change a few things (asking faculty to leave their classrooms was one example mentioned of something that was being re-thought). It was said that they also realized that the pitch did not include some things (and that faculty had not been informed very well) about a number of things in which they were likely to be interested (data sources, data reports, comparison groups, etc.). So, after presenting to us, the Chancellor and her team went back to work on the presentation and, for the time being, canceled their pitch at the other campuses. At the same time, it sounded like at least some of the general structures (task forces, areas of inquiry, etc.) were likely to remain the same. Which brings me to #2.

#2) The Chancellor is coming back; she is tentatively scheduled to return to present to Faculty Council and Department Chairs on or around October 1st with the new, revised plan, and she will be meeting with Faculty Council’s (and Chair’s? Not sure) at the other colleges, too. So it looks like she is planning to operate, somewhat at least, through the Faculty Council structure. More on that when we know more.

#3) Tom Higgins raised a question about “Unification” and plans to be a single college, and both Johns said that, if that ever was a plan, talk of it has ceased, at least with the Presidents. In fact, Hader said, he was with Angela Henderson and the head of ICCB last week and heard Angela say (something like), “We are seven independently accredited colleges, and we want to stay that way.” He said that she made clear that the talk of consolidation applies to the “business” aspects of the college related to services. Metoyer said that the Chancellor’s point with respect to the “single transcript” idea has either been clarified or evolved to the idea that a Daley College student who works downtown ought to be able to come into Harold Washington and order/get printed out her Daley transcript (i.e., that the aim was not so much to get everything on one document, but to make the services of the City Colleges of Chicago universal). At least that’s how I understood his understanding on that particular topic.

There was then extensive discussion of the Jobs focus, with Metoyer and Hader noting that some of it is a consequence of our Chancellor’s personal perspective (that people come to college for jobs) and some of it, a lot of it, coming from external pressures including Federal Government and funding related entities of all sorts “who want to see numbers.” Faculty then posed questions or suggested issues that they’d like to have clarification about as we move forward toward the process that the Chancellor laid out in her presentation. Among those were:

~Clarification of what it means to Succeed at the City Colleges (and presumably revision from the way the term was defined for the purposes of Reinvention;

~The role of faculty in curriculum decisions with respect to standardization across the colleges and decision making (e.g., mandatory use of e-write);

~Addressing (or at least acknowledging) the aspect of student responsibility and motivation with respect to our success with our students, as well as considering ways to get students educated and involved in the pursuit of the Reinvention goals;

~Identifying who has responsibility for and how they plan to capture data on jobs and job placement;

~Closing the hole in our knowledge about the students who leave (and transfer) without degrees, perhaps by doing follow-up surveys of random samples, etc.;

~Concern about the temptation/attempt to try to quantify the human experience and/or learning;

~Assurance of continued support for established and soon to be established partnerships with various groups and entities.

There were a few others, too, but I missed them (sorry–I know I missed more than one as I was writing); I hope someone who was there who heard one I didn’t include will add it/them in the comments below. Amanda, who did a great job hosting the thing, I think, then asked everyone to remember to fill out the tear-off part on the bottom of the meeting agenda if they were interested, at this point, in participating in the process in any way, so we can organize ourselves here at HW and develop some plans for sharing, seeking, and contributing information to the process through and from the participants in it (she made the same request at today’s State of the College Address). Once those have come in and we have a better sense of the “new plan,” FC will discuss how to go forward.That discussion will likely take up part or most of our October meeting (second Tuesday in October, 3:30pm in room 1046), and you can continue to watch the Lounge for more information as well.

All in all, it was an encouraging session–it’s good to know that the Chancellor takes feedback seriously; it’s good to know that so many HW faculty are committed enough to their work and the place to be both concerned about and willing to participate in conversations and work related to Strategic Planning for the institution’s future; and it’s good to know that we can expect our current administration, as we expected from our last one, to be honest, forthright, and supportive of faculty, our concerns, and our role in the process as we go forward.  As rough as this whole thing started out (going all the way back to the DWFDW hootenanny in May) after the forum, I am a little more optimistic about the path ahead.

One thought on “Notes from the Reinvention Forum

  1. Thanks much for the update. I don’t know if I would call this transparency, or open communication, or cooperation, but I certainly do call it a model for the Reinvention Gurus to follow.

    You got my tear-off sheet. I’m in.

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