Town Hall Meeting Remarks

Hi All,

Below you’ll find remarks I made to the Vice Chancellors at the Town Hall meeting last Thursday. The VC’s began with a half-hour of slides, which they said they would share.  After their half-hour presentations, our students asked questions for the next hour. They were very engaging and mostly respectfully listened to by the VCs.  Finally, faculty had a one-half hour block to ask questions. I encourage others to post on their experience at this event. I know Dave has already solicited comments.

Approximation of remarks made:

Congratulations to you all for overseeing the death of liberal arts at the City Colleges of Chicago. You have determined that our students only need specific courses and majors to succeed and you have arranged it to your satisfaction that only those courses and majors will be offered. Within three years we expect that courses which do not propel our students to jobs of economic value will be gone. You have determined that our students don’t need courses on art history to learn about great works of art, our students don’t need courses in training of the speaking voice to learn better diction and pronunciation, our students don’t need courses in acting to learn how to better present themselves. Music, philosophy, religion are all in jeopardy because of the actions you are taking. You have decided that those courses belong to the more entitled students at four-year colleges, that learning is for the elite, and that our students don’t need, can’t handle and don’t deserve a fully rounded education. What you don’t seem to understand is that our students deserve all that we can offer them.



Not the year, the number of students who signed up to walk. I’m not sure what the final count was but there were A LOT of students at last night’s graduation. First off, nothing and I mean NOTHING will ever be as good as our individual ceremony held at the Symphony Center or the Chicago Theater. And I don’t remember being told it was mandatory to attend, we just did.

But, this is a dead horse. The administration we have is never going to let us have our individual ceremony so I’ll move into the present and say…..I enjoyed last night’s graduation! I even LOVED parts of it.

What did I love?

  • The HWC Jazz Ensemble playing the prelude! Nice job! I couldn’t see you because of where I was standing but I heard you. You Rock (or Jazz?). I’m assuming it was Shevitz and Flores and company but like I said, couldn’t really see.
  • The National Anthem sung by the CCC Commencement Chorus- awesome! The drum line presenting the college colors (still hate the color changes but once again…dead horse). Nothing gets a crowd going like a drum band.
  • The Lieutenant Governor, Sheila Simon, gave a great speech. The best part was when she introduced a visually challenged student and told his story. It was so inspirational that the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Love hearing about our students, they inspire me every day.
  • Cheryl also gave a good speech. She inspires students with her story.
  • Asking the Service/military graduates to stand and thanking them for their service.
  • Don doing double duty handing out diplomas for Wright and for HWC. He’s the hardest working man at City Colleges.
  • The people reading the names of the graduates. They were amazing handling that kind of volume and that variety of names.
  • Our students graduating
 HWC goes to the stage


Graduation is 4pm at UIC Pavillon on Friday, May 3rd!!!

I love graduations! I love the sense of community, the chance to visit with students and their families and share in their accomplishments and I love a chance to see my fellow faculty all dressed up in caps and gowns. It is a great time for the school and the students.

In case you missed the email for volunteers, you are expected to arrive at 11am! That’s right, you need training for graduation and so need to be there five hours before the event! Don’t worry, lunch is being provided by City Colleges!

I believe those walking have to be there at 2:30? Can someone confirm?


For our students, a little incentive to stay for the entire graduation! (click on graduation)


HWCFC’s 411;)

Hi All,

I have some items of interest to report, gleaned from communications from District, the 11th floor and from other faculty and staff. There are many things being discussed but these are some highlights. If you know something which should be highlighted, let me know!

  • Reinvention 7
  • Federal Financial Aid Restrictions
  • New Hires for Fall 2013
  • Class time Audit
  • Copier/printer issues

For specifics, read on!


Do we still offer Degrees?

Hi All,

I was planning a post on what your Faculty Council is up to and inviting you to the next Faculty Council meeting with is on Tuesday, March 12th at 3:30p in room 1046. However, as I was researching some issues related to FC and course development I came across this perplexing screen on our website. I am sorry if someone else has mentioned this previously on the Lounge, I’ve been negligent in my reading. Let me know what you think about the following:

When you go to and you click on Academics and then click on Degrees, you get this.


So then I thought; well, I’ll search for the major, English. That search  took me to this screen:


I thought perhaps there was a screwy link so I clicked on CareerFinder under Academics thinking a list of degrees offered would be there. They weren’t. Just the CareerFInder screen. If you click on a particular job it will eventually get you to a particular degree with course requirements. However, it only lists programs by jobs and then not all jobs. Type in Acting or Theater, nothing. Even though we have a concentration in Theater, you would never know it from this link. Thoughts?

What to do?

Today, there are two very important events at HWC. In room 103, from 2-4pm there will be the 25th annual Sydney R. Daniels Black History Month Oratorical Festival. This is a speech competition which showcases our students giving presentations on people of African descent. There is music by our students, great speeches, excellent food and a great sense of community. 

The other important event is the union meeting in room 1115, 2-4:30. If you’ve been following the emails on your personal account you know that there are some interesting developments which will be discussed. I’ll be there in spirit and will get the 411 from our righteous leader, Jesu.

I hope you remind your students about the Oratorical Festival and if you go to the Union Meeting, REPRESENT!

And yes, Jesu and I will make sure this overlap doesn’t happen in the future because I know many of you would like to attend both events! I call Feb. 20, 2014!

A Survey by Dr. Farah Movahedzadeh

If you missed the email from Margie, read the following:

“Dr. Farah Movahedzadeh has been doing some research on why students fail. She presented Phase I of the research at the Lilly conference last summer. She is extending the research now and is asking that faculty at HWC participate. The goal is to learn more about faculty perceptions so that we can provide more outreach to students to increase their success. If you would like to participate, please fill out the attached form and email it to , or you can hand it in anonymously at the State of the College on Friday. There will be a box by the door.
Thank you for your participation.”

This is a good opportunity to add your perspective on this important issues. Also, a nice opportunity to support our own HWC faculty research! It seems likely the next research might be on why students succeed.

Why Do You Think Students Fail Classes Survey

Letter submitted to the Board

Below is Dr. Sheldon Liebman’s letter which was submitted to the Board of Trustees Thursday morning.  His speech was about a third the size since we were told that requests to address the Board has a 2-minute limit.  Signed onto the petition also submitted that day were 43 full-time faculty and more than a dozen adjuncts & 1708 employees from the main campus + 15 full-time employees from the Humboldt Park branch; pretty good for two days’ work by just a handful of us.

We await the formal written response by the Board of Trustees to both our petitions and the full letter. Copied on this e-mail is Sheldon if you’d like to reach out.  Thanks to those who showed support & please forward widely.
Dr. Wolff, Members of the Board, and Chancellor Hyman:

My name is Sheldon Liebman. I’m the chair of the Humanities Department at Wright College. Last year, I was one of Wright’s elected representatives to Faculty Council. This semester, I’m on sabbatical leave, so I have plenty of time to devote to the preservation of an institution that I love. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am here to hand you a petition that, in so many words, asks you to acknowledge the dedication, experience, training, and intelligence of the faculty and staff of the City Colleges of Chicago. We are, of course, not looking for praise. We are looking for action. 

Specifically, we are asking you to include us in the decision-making process, from which we have been systematically excluded for two years.

Centralization has occurred with little input from us. We have been told that we can’t use our traditional school logos on school signage or school stationery. We now send our graduating students to the UIC Pavilion instead of holding our own graduation ceremony in the neighborhoods we are supposed to serve. And I have in my possession the most bizarre product so far of this administration’s mismanagement, a single- volume schedule intended to be distributed to all 40,000+ credit students in the district to accommodate the very small percentage of students at CCC who attend two or more City Colleges. Fortunately, printing was stopped well before the process was completed. More seriously, centralization has resulted in lots of second-guessing because of the District Office’s policy of micromanaging the individual colleges. Decision making has slowed to a crawl. To anyone who has been in the system for a long time, the vaunted advantages and efficiencies of centralization have yet to materialize.


Curriculum has been developed without much input from us. When the Reinvention Task Forces first met, participants were informed that had to sign a secrecy agreement and demonstrate their willingness to be transferred to another college. Clearly, this was not an auspicious way to encourage faculty and others to speak their minds. These initial requirements sounded intimidating and potentially punitive, and fortunately they were suspended. We also heard that some ideas presented by faculty were simply rejected out of hand. In short, in many instances the process evidently gave the administration exactly what it wanted—but not necessarily what the faculty, staff, and students needed. I don’t know how College to Careers was implemented at other colleges, but to the faculty and staff at Wright, our new IT program seemed to fall out of the sky. That is, most of us had no idea it was coming because none of us have been in on the planning.

Personnel decisions have also been made without us. Our respected president, along with other presidents in the district, were fired soon after the new administration arrived. It looked to us as if they were being punished for their failure to graduate enough students.  The colleges also lost 220 low-level and low-paid workers who were necessary for the flow of operations at each location, while the District added hundreds of highly paid employees, almost all of them brought in from outside many without much experience in community college work, and none of them directly involved in classroom instruction.


At Wright, we had a tradition of hiring from within. Many years ago, President Lefevre went from the Vice Presidency to the Presidency; Chuck Guengerich went from being Dean to being VP and then President; and Cynthia Cordes went from being Dean to being VP when Chuck became President. The advantages of this policy are many: (1) nobody needs to be trained on the job; (2) senior administrators can be counted on to make informed decisions; and (3) institutional memory is preserved.


This brings me to the latest management gaffe, the request made to our Vice President that she retire early, at the end of the calendar year. Our objection is that she has served the system competently for many years; and, for many of us, she has been the go-to person for advice, support, and guidance. To put it simply, she knows what to do. Our request to you is that you refuse to approve the decision for her premature departure because this will deprive us of a colleague whose contribution to the successful operation of Wright College is invaluable and whose unprepared absence will undoubtedly become problematic. The Wright College community had anticipated the vice president’s retirement to occur in 2014, and we deserve a gradual withdrawal of someone who, with twelve years of honorable service as an administrator, has played an essential part in why the AQIP delegates who recently visited Wright called us the “crown jewel of the City Colleges.”  The Wright College community should be assured that the VP’s eventual replacement will be someone whom we know to be knowledgeable and trustworthy.


More importantly, this bad decision is a consequence of the same mistake that resulted in many of the bad decisions the new administration has made. Decisions that affect the day-to-day operations of the individual colleges should be made in consultation with the people who are most affected: the faculty and staff.  Furthermore, we have the most direct contact with students and are thus in the best position, next to asking them directly, to assess and advocate for their needs. The administration cannot make well-informed organizational, curricular, and personnel decisions without our help. Governance must be shared because the right decision can only be made when the decision makers have all the information they need. We have a lot of information. At Wright, we knew that we didn’t need new carpeting in the library, we needed to have the walls painted. At Wright, we need the technology in our classrooms to be repaired or replaced. At Wright, we know we don’t need 41% of the administrators in the system to be working in District Office. We need smaller classes, a substantial increase in the number of full-time instructors and full-time staff, and a substantial increase in the money spent on direct education instead of marketing and cronyism.


We are not demanding anything. We’re asking you to include us in the governance of the City Colleges so that collectively we can improve our programs and genuinely increase the chances for success of the students we all care so much about. You need our help, and we want to give it to you. Don’t be shy about asking for it.
Thank you to  Hector Reyes and Jessie Choe for forwarding this and you can email Dr. Liebman at

A Survey about Surveys

In the last couple of months we have seen more and more surveys popping up in our inbox. There was the survey about the Inspector General’s Office, about Morale (where are those results?), Lecture capture cameras (ditto), and now Registration. I know many people do not fill out these surveys which I think is a mistake. Consider this, in some small way filling out these surveys is like voting. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about decisions made later. How much happier we all would have been if the powers that be had sent a survey about branding or graduation or most recently,  no more spring hires. (Just a side comment- if we are no longer allowed spring hires, does that apply to district too? So, if there is a job opening do they have to wait until fall semester to hire or are they allowed to hire based on need and availability?).

Not to say that a survey would have changed the decisions that the money spenders made, but at least our voice would have been heard. A large complaint about this administration is the total top-down communication. I would like to think these surveys are at least an attempt to give the people who actually work with students a voice.  So next time you see a survey pop into your inbox, don’t ignore it, fill it out. Don’t pass up an opportunity to actually communicate back to the powers that be, we have so few opportunities to do so….

STATE OF THE COLLEGE October 26, 2012

I had promised a couple of friends to take notes because one was teaching a class and the other was taking a class.  I didn’t see Dave there so I’ll post. If he or the Realist would like to bump me or whatever, have at it. Also, I may have missed things or misheard things so anyone can correct me; I am not emotionally attached to my meeting notes.

I arrived 5 minutes late so I missed the very beginning. Personal observation: I miss when the SOTC always started 10 minutes late so we could visit with each other a bit. Some of us never get to see each other except at this event and when it is over; people are running for the door. I may be alone in wishing President Laackman was not quite so prompt in starting the meeting, anybody else have an opinion?

Anyway, when I arrived President Don Laackman (PDL) was reading from a student handbook? from the original Loop College. It is the 50th anniversary of our school. There were some amusing instructions/directions. It was entertaining.

Once this part was over PDL stated that 80% of conflict was caused by role confusion. His role was to provide direction, serve HWC community and thank us. He then thanked us.

He identified 4 recent outstanding examples of HWC which included 1) Castactivities and identified Andrew Kutcher and his workshop on Teaching in Web 2.0 (no applause here); 2) Transformation- Ellen Goldberg (lots of applause); 3) Assessment committee- Mike Heathfield (no applause); 4) Career pathways- Donyel Williams (applause). Editorial note: I’m sure we all meant to applaud Castactivities but he had just started the list and I’m sure we meant to applaud Assessment but he mentioned District personnel which might have thrown some of us off. So applause applause!

PDL then talked about some of the changes in the last 8 months. He began by identifying all those who had retired. Congrats to those fine people. He then introduced the 18 new hires most in student services.  I admit I didn’t listen very closely here. I looked around the crowd and noted the number of people texting, reading from their IPADs and in at least on case, GRADING PAPERS. Got to admire that person’s dedication.. Big applause for the new hires. PDL stated that he interviews ALL those for full-time positions. He then identified the promotions.

PDL mentioned other changes to HWC. He noted that the Taxi Program has been transferred to Olive Harvey. He then mentioned that their graduation rates are up. Editorial Note: I thought this was weird, was there supposed to be a causal link there? Did the transfer of the program make for a more successful graduating class? I decided that unless you lived near OH, if you travelled that far for the program you were probably motivated to complete it, thus the increased graduation rate.

The Wellness center is now in the taxi space. The other campuses initiatives were then mentioned.

Then next part was about stats. Enrollment is flat across the district but up at HWC. I heard 8.4% and 9%. I also heard that we graduated 522 last year up from 425 in 2011 and 382 in 2010.

PDL continued with some other changes. The business faculty met at 7:30am with business leaders to talk about business. There is a registration re-think with the goal to improve services such as having registration go late on Thursday and be open on Saturday so students can go through the whole process in one day. 2 years ago, 30% of students were highly dissatisfied with registration, today only 11%.

Also, somewhere there will be a fitness center in the basement for students but faculty/staff may be allowed to use as well.  Editorial Note: I did not see this recommendation in the HWC space committee report but I applaud fitness. I would also like to request a SAFE place to lock up our bikes. Currently those of us who ride our bikes have to bring them into our offices for safety given previous thefts at the outside bike racks.

The next discussion was of PDL’s Theory of Action: Great people working towards the mission. He then discussed how in the recent survey someone seemed to confuse the goals of reinvention with the mission. He read the mission and stated that we are not walking away from our commitment to the liberal arts. Applause!! He also stated that we have the highest transfer rate of all City Colleges.  No specific numbers provided. Editorial Note: I remember hearing this at all Pre-PDL SOTC meetings. It was good to hear that reiterated because I’m sure many of us never thought we were failures based on our graduation rates, we thought our students were going to University and this reminds us of that.

The next part lasted far shorter than I thought it would- over 20 depts. had representatives read their mission statements. Those departments included: HR, Academic Affairs, Building and Maintenance, Student Services, Registrar, Wellness center, Academic Advising, Transfer, DAC, Admission, Testing, Financial Aid, Security, OIT, Business Office (kudos for Kent Lusk for including the idea of service with a smile), College careers , Legal dept. (shout out to Caroline for grace under pressure), Art and Architecture (Ivan used the whole stage to break up some of the monotony), English Dept., Library and ESL had a video which was playing as we walked out (a bummer seeing Marta in the video and knowing she wasn’t here..we miss you Marta!)  PDL had stated there would be 20 mission statements, including HWC’s and his I counted 24. Whew, that was a lot of mission statements!

PDL should post his mission statement, perhaps on his blog. He ended at 10:45 by stating he was humble and grateful and he thanked us again.

Questions: Adriana! Sorry Adriana, I missed your first question. Post and remind me.

Maceo mentioned students request for a basketball team. PDL asked him to have the students show us the plan.

Can’t remember who asked this but it was about submitting midterm grades online. Big applause! Margie said she would look into this and was supportive of this initiative.

A plea for a meaningful graduation ceremony which would celebrate our students’ success, be respectful to their families and put the community back in community college was made and …. shot down:::((((

Brian Hill made an excellent point about the hospitality program at HWC which is accredited and what KK’s taking over of the program will mean. I remember when Brian first started working on this program. It made so much sense to have this program in the heart of the loop where there were so many opportunities for our students to work/intern in this field. PDL had little to say, had emailed the KK president.

And Kathryn Nash reminded us all the the Loop Players production of Electra is currently playing! Everyone should go out and see it!

Somehow Ephrem missed an opportunity to remind us all of the Blackboard conference on Nov. 9th so I’ll do it. Please guys, RSVP and go to the conference. If he gets over a 100 people he will quit sending out emails!

So, that’s it! Sorry if I left out anything. The President had his remarks written and I’m sure if anyone is interested he would happily share. He laughingly mentioned that he expected to be reviewed on the Lounge so go ahead and post away!

Commemorating almost 150 years of Service to HWC.

Just a reminder – On Thursday, Oct. 11 in room 1115 from 2-4pm, we commemorate the lives of HWC faculty and staff who have passed in the last year.

Jerome Goetz – Business Dept. Faculty
Oliver “Ollie” Summers Jr. – Foreign Language Lab
Marietta Cirignani – Business Office and first president of 1708
Carmen D. Garth – OVTD and Public Chauffeur Department
John “Jack” Lombard – Math Department Faculty
Margaret Reven – English Department
BJ Francisco – College Financial Aid Office

All are welcome to attend.