HW Faculty Council Candidate Statements (Fall 2016 Edition)

It is my pleasure to fulfill a request put forward by our current HWFC to share the statements of our three colleagues who have been nominated and agreed to stand for election to three-year terms on the Faculty Council. There are two open positions.

I share these in the order that I received them.

Kristin Bivens, Associate Professor of English

This past August, as I started my 10th year at HW in the English department, I took stock of various opportunities I had participated in and others I had not. For example, I served as CAST coordinator, along with Kamran Swanson, for 2016. As part of my CAST duties, I organized (along with Kamran) FDW in August and various CASTivities throughout the spring semester (and now, the fall semester). I think my biggest contribution has been hybridizing and digitizing CAST content and recording CASTpod interviews with and for HW folks.  I was happy to use some of the tech skills from my PhD in technical communication and rhetoric as CAST coordinator and for FDW.

Serving faculty as CAST coordinator was a gratifying experience, but when I was recently nominated for FC, I thought this was another opportunity to continue to serve faculty and faculty interests.  As we approach an important crossroads as a district and college (a new chancellor, a new contract, and re-accreditation), I would like to use my experience (spring 2016) working on an all-District team of English faculty to create a new writing placement. My experience called for skills of argumentation and persuasion to ensure the best writing placement test was chosen for our students. I think my experience on this all-District team will also contribute to serving as the criterion chair for integrity for re-accreditation, as well as your FC representative.

Megan Ritt, Assistant Professor of English

Those of you who know me know that I’m passionate about many things (including Game of Thrones, the Oxford comma, and french fries). Another subject I’m passionate about is teaching and the well-being of our students. A lot of what we can do for them is reliant upon not just our content-area knowledge but also our knowledge of education itself, our academic freedom, and our ability to share in the governance of our school.

I want to serve on Faculty Council because I want to put my passion to good use. As a teacher of argumentation, I will listen to the many disparate voices of our faculty and help us reach informed conclusions. Serving as CAST Coordinator in 2014 and 2015 helped me see the importance of being involved on the school-wide level. I am eager to learn from those who have gone before me and to help provide a voice for the faculty and by extension, our students. If I am chosen to serve on the Council, I’ll bring my passion for teaching, my writer’s ear, and my Oxford commas. Thank you for your consideration.

B. Kamran Swanson, Assistant Professor of Humanities (Philosophy)

The Faculty Council is expected to represent the views of full- and part-time faculty, to support positions that preserve and strengthen the academic integrity of the institution, and to work with administration to foster an environment of shared governance. In my first three years of serving on Faculty Council, I have learned what it means to do this effectively, and I am excited to do so more frequently and effectively for another three years. I feel privileged to work among a community of experts, tremendously varied in their knowledge, experiences, and perspectives. I believe that the best version of Faculty Council draws upon these differences, encourages rational dissent, and sets an example for our administration, our students, and our larger community, to exercise a government of free thinkers with competing views. I believe it is possible to do this without losing a clear voice, and I hope my various statements to administration and faculty have demonstrated this over the past few months and years. If reelected to Faculty Council, I intend to continue putting into practice that which I’ve learned before.



Faculty Council Candidates: Personal Statements

Per request from Michal Eskayo, here are the candidates for HW Faculty Council. Voting is open all week–watch your mailbox for your ballot.

Hello faculty,

We are excited to present the three candidates who have been nominated for the Harold Washington College Faculty Council. Check out their bios, and be sure to vote next week. The polls will be open from Monday through Friday.


Luke Belz

I am writing to seek your support for my nomination as a Faculty Council member at Harold Washington College. Since the Fall semester of 2011, I have been a full time faculty member of the Mathematics and CIS Department and, as of Spring 2014, I was awarded tenure. I have taught a variety of classes ranging from Beginning Algebra up to and including Calculus. Also, I have participated on college wide committees such as the CAST and Curriculum Committees along with departmental committees such as the Developmental Education Math Committee and the Calculus Committee. Currently, I am on the District Wide Faculty Council. Each day I look forward to and enjoy working with my students and all my colleagues throughout the college. If given the opportunity to be a Faculty Council member, I would do my best to be the voice of all faculty members and address their concerns so that we can continue to maintain the high standard of education for our students.


Stephanie Burke

I am a photography instructor in the Department of Art and Architecture here at Harold Washington College. As a newly tenured faculty member at HWC, I am very interested in being an active member of our school community. I am the co-founder of the Fine Arts Integration Committee, the faculty advisor for the Council Of The Arts, HWC’s art club, and co-organize student programming on an ongoing basis, including the annual off campus student exhibition and the Arts Transfer Fair. I am looking forward to contributing to and learning from Faculty Council.


Phillip Vargas

My name is Phillip Vargas, and I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Sciences. I teach both general education courses and program level physics courses. I have been teaching at HWC since Fall 2010, and believe I have worked on many projects that have positively contributed to the college. What I have enjoyed most in working on these projects has been meeting and collaborating with other dedicated faculty members. I believe Faculty Council will offer additional opportunities to work with a committed group of faculty members toward improving the college and I would be honored if elected.

Policies that Cause Rather than Solve Problems

Today I received an email from a student in my 9:30 am class. it read:

“Forgot my id. I will be late. I’m in the front but they won’t let me in.”

This particular student is a student with special needs, and so this student has a note-taker. The note-taker was there at 9:30, but the student was not. By 9:45, the student had not arrived in class. Unfortunately, I checked my email early this morning, but did not check it in the time between my arrival at school and first class, and so, following policy, the note-taker left.


About 20 minutes later, just under the halfway point of the class, the student came in to see a board full of notes and material on Categorical propositions. The work we did in class today laid groundwork for the next three weeks worth of material. Students who were there experienced a huge and important front-load the second major unit of the class. Students who missed it will be scrambling to catch up  right up until the mid-term exam.

Her email was sent at 9:04 am, by the way.

So, this student did everything right except bring her school ID with her, and now her success in the class is imperiled. All for a policy that is ostensibly aimed at “improving student safety.” Do we really need to say that most of the college shootings of the last 10 years have been carried out by people who had IDs? Do we need to point out that our college is objectively safe–relative to other colleges and other City Colleges, based on the Clery Report data? Do we really need to point out that the last time we did a security survey, there was much more concern among faculty about students than about strangers? About being alone in stairwells and hallways and offices than about people without ids wandering in?

If a few students can bring about a policy change (that was the reason provided at the State of the College address, right?) with major potential implications on student learning and work and the rest–without consulting Faculty Council or anything else–then perhaps a few faculty belly aching about a stupid policy that creates problems without solving any can get a similar result. Let’s say my bag is stolen with my wallet and ID in it. Let’s say further that I don’t have cash on me (typical). I suppose I could borrow some, but let’s say I arrive at a time and day where the people I see that I know are, like me, without cash or access to their ATM cards for some reason. Should I take a sick day? Should I send a note to my students to wait, ride the train home, scrounge up some quarters from the couch and laundry room and my kid’s bank and return and pay $10 so I can work?

“Of course not,” someone will say. You will see someone who will vouch for you or loan you the money or whatever.” And they’d be right. I would be slightly and probably only temporarily inconvenienced by the situation, because I’m white, I’m old, I’m male, I’m employed, I’d be in professional (or semi-professional) dress and so on–take your pick of possible reasons I’d have it easy.

My student, however, and likely many students, does not live with the same privileges. My student was sent home on a day that she needed to be in class, on a day when she arrived 30 minutes before class was to start, only to return to find that, because she had been sent home to get a piece of plastic with her picture on it, she had not only missed important material but missed out on the chance to have her special needs accommodated. And for what? To what end?

I am hopping mad right now.

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!


DA&A events today

Hi all,

I know you received an email yesterday regarding the events taking place in our Department of Art and Architecture, but I thought I’d post a friendly reminder with details on today’s activities:

Wednesday December 5, 2012

Thursday December 6, 2012

Paul Wandless will display an ‘Exquisite Corpse’ outside of room 810 starting at 9:30am

Dolores Ochoa will be available to answer student questions about the architecture program in room 818 from 10:00am-5:00pm

The Architecture program will display student assignments outside of room 815 from 9:30am-5:30pm

The photography program will conduct a photography print demo from 12:00pm-3:00pm in room 822

The photography program will conduct a viewing of processed history scans from 12:00pm-3:00m in room 820

Galina Shevchenko will host Open Critiques in her Art 176 class. Room 811. From 10:00am-12:00pm.

Jessica Bader and her students will be hosting our Annual Holiday Art Sale from 10:00am-3:00pm in room 102. Last day to go holiday shopping!

Lots more happening in and around our 8th floor. You are welcome to make a short or long visit to any and all of our activities today and tomorrow.

Thank you!

Introducing the HW Faculty Council nominees

Hey everyone!

HW Faculty Council is in the midst of elections for three new faculty council members since Domenico Ferri, Dave Richardson, and I will not be seeking re-election to the council.

We have four outstanding nominees for the three open seats: Jess Bader, Kristin Bivens, Theresa Carlton, and Molly Turner.  Per previous requests, we have asked that each nominee introduce herself.

We hope that these introductions will provide you with the information you need to make a more informed decision in this election process. The ballots should be in the boxes of all full-time faculty members by tomorrow morning.

So, without further ado:

Jessica (Jess) Bader

Hello! My name is Jess Bader.  I am an assistant professor and coordinator in the 3D area of the art and architecture department (AAD). I have been at Harold Washington for thirteen years. In those years we have seen the helm change in regards to chancellors and presidents. Because we have a tenacious faculty, our academic voice has remained strong. I would like to be part of this tradition. I have been a very active member in AAD. On the department level I serve on the AAD strategic planning committee. I was one of two sub chairs on the Space Committee, and I was a year-long substitute for FC4 replacing Theresa Carlton. Thank you for your consideration.

Kristin Bivens

I am Kristin Bivens of the English Department (since 2006), where I teach ENG 101, primarily, but I have also taught ENG 102, ENG 102 for science majors, and literature and film.  I am nearing completion for my PhD coursework in Technical Communication and Rhetoric.  As a rhetorician, I have found that my training has prepared me to closely and rhetorically examine writing.  This is a contribution I can make as a member of HWCFC.  I also serve on the Conference on College Composition and Communication’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (since 2007); on this committee, I have researched and presented on contrapower harassment (i.e., students harassing teachers).  Additionally, with this committee work, I have established a network of colleagues across the country who have similar experiences that we as college faculty might encounter.  As a member of HWCFC, I see myself serving my colleagues as a committed member and advocating for our important roles at HW.  If you have any questions, please contact me at kbivens@ccc.edu

Theresa Carlton

I have been a full-time math faculty member at HWC since January 2006.  Throughout my time here I have always been an active participant in department, college and district activities.  I served as a department representative on the local Curriculum Committee for four years.  I was then elected to serve as Chair of the Curriculum Committee.  As chair, I led the committee in writing a document laying out the responsibilities, membership requirements, job descriptions, and procedures the committee should follow when making decisions regarding new or revised courses for HWC.  I also served as HWC’s FC4 representative, attending the district-wide faculty council meetings and being a voice for HWC in academic matters.  As a member of HWC Faculty Council, I will work diligently to maintain the high academic standards that HWC has always achieved, and stand up for the rights of faculty, while always considering what is best for all of our students.

Theresa Carlton

Molly Turner

I believe our strong Faculty Council is the linchpin in effective self-governance supporting the highest quality academic and pedagogical standards in our dual-purpose institution.  I can’t think of a more important way to serve HWC and its liberal arts legacy than by actively participating in HWCFC to continue building and insisting on an environment of enthusiasm and cooperation among faculty, staff and administration. I have worked closely with the Placement Center for the last four years, evaluating essays and improving processes and in this effort worked with the Placement Testing Committee to reintroduce human-read essays to better serve our students. On the college level, I have worked diligently to develop our journalism program and advise the school newspaper. Also, I am currently on the core team of faculty and librarians from across the district to develop a news literacy course with a McCormick Foundation grant.  I have been on faculty since 2002 and served on Faculty Council from 2007 to 2008.

Informal Faculty Get-Together at Emerald Loop @4 today!

Take a break from your grading (or from celebrating being done grading) and stop by the Emerald Loop between 4 and ? for a chance to hang out with fellow faculty.  Our distinguished prof. will be there to sign autographs and read from his favorite great books around 4:15.  If the event has a good turnout and goes well, then it is co-sponsored by CAST and HWFC.  If not, then it is sponsored by the Office of Instruction (just kidding; phew…is anyone else a little slap happy).