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.
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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.
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Thank you to  Hector Reyes and Jessie Choe for forwarding this and you can email Dr. Liebman at swliebman@yahoo.com

Highlights from the Board Report–January

Highlights from the Board Report is a monthly regular 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.

It was a busy January session (held at HW, woo-hoo!), but the report went up fast! As a bonus, it included the full list of the Reinvention Task Force members, which means we finally have a winner for our Task Force Announcement Prediction Finals Week Diversion Contest!

The predictor extraordinaire is Mathissexy who predicted January 12th at noon. I’m not sure whether the announcement was before or after noon, but the public report that includes the names of all of the members of the Reinvention Task Force, didn’t go up until a few days later, which is, as a carpenter I used to work for liked to say, “Close enough for government work!” Congrats to Mathissexy. Your prize is on the way! Heirapparent was quite close, predicting January 14th at 2:30, which was, unfortunately, after the time the report was posted (Price Is Right rules! You’re OVER!). Condolences on that.

What’s that? You want to know who’s on the list? Hold your horses, people; there’s more to report. For example:

~The HW Presidential Search is in full swing, having sifted through 40 applications and begun the process of interviewing top candidates.

~Academically speaking, 121 new tutors have been hired across the district, and the Provost met with multiple faculty to discuss multiple issues, including our Alan Meyers about Reading and English, Jeff Libman about Remediation, and Truman Faculty Council President Joy Walker about communication with faculty.

~Something about money.

~The Board approved lots of interesting changes to the Academic Policy, such as: some official approvals to our degree programs, acceptance of virtual office hours for instructors teaching online and hybrid courses, a few changes to the Tenure Requirements (including the requirement that hires with M.F.A.s take additional graduate hours (formerly exempted because of having terminal degrees), that all hires complete the Faculty Development Seminar in their first year (which counts for three graduate hours, apparently), and an academic integrity statement), some changes regarding Blackboard (adjuncts have to post their syllabus and all of them have to include “measurable SLOs” and must be available for students, guests, and observers by the end of the first week), seniors get to register for courses during open registration (rather than after classes begin), some changes to the nursing program requirements, and a rescinding of the requirement for written approval by the VP in order to have visitors.

~We are all accountable now for the success of the Reinvention. If it fails it’s your fault.

~It was a big month for hiring, too, with lots of good news for recently RIF’d HW people. The district hired 50 people including 16 advisors (including Patricia Cuevas, Devon Glover (welcome back, you two!) and Kenyon Douglass and Allison Zures). Also hired as an advisor is former HW star  and Mario Diaz (MX), while former HW star Zalika Brown was hired as a Director of a Special Needs Center (KK). The district also hired 8 new faculty members (African American Studies, Reading, Respiratory Care, and English at MX,  Child Development and a Librarian @ Truman, Reading @ Daley, and English @ KK (at a total salary cost of$375, 976). Also hired in January to work at the District Office were a new Vice Chancellor of Safety and Security, a new Chief Operating Officer, a new Executive Director (Nursing Programs), a new Managing Director (Special Projects), a new Executive Director (Academic Development), a new Project Team Leader, and a new Vice Chancellor–Human Resources & Staff Development. (Total salary cost for those 7 positions: $799,200). Plus, Brandon Pendleton was hired as the Interim Dean of Student Services at Kennedy King. Congratulations, Brandon. Also, welcome to Jeremy Gonzalez, a new engineer at HW, and last but not anywhere close to least, welcome back Cynthia Crump!

Oh! And if you scroll down a bit, you’ll find that list of Task Force Assignees, who include 18 students (4 from Wright, 4 from Truman, 3 from Kennedy-King, 2 from HW, 2 from Malcolm X, 2 from Daley, and 1 from Olive-Harvey), 16 FT faculty members 4 from Olive Harvey (English, Speech, Social Science, Data Processing), 3 from HW (Social Science, Business, Math),  3 from Daley (Math, Business, Biology), 2 from Truman (English, Speech), 1 from Malcolm X (Math), and 1 from Kennedy King (English), 3 adjuncts (HW, KK, and OH), 4 Adult Educators (2 from Daley, 1 from HW, 1 from Truman), 2 Advisors (Kennedy-King and Daley), 5 staff members (3 HW, 2 MX), 8 Administrators (3 from Truman, 2 from Kennedy-King, 1 each from HW, OH, and the District Office), and a Part Time Coordinator from Malcolm X.

~The District is applying for a $250,000 grant to “adapt and scale the Math on Demand program, currently used at Wright College, to the other six colleges (send your questions to Mike Davis).

~Finally, FC4 President Ellen Eason-Montgomery addressed the Board.

Highlights from the Board Report–October

Highlights from the Board Report is a monthly regular 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.

In light of the last few days, I considered renaming this post, but talked myself out of it. Nonetheless, here we go:

~Brandon Pendleton was named a finalist for the Kathy Osterman award.

~Enrollment is up everywhere  except Kennedy-King, which is down slightly, as of September.

~There was an interesting financial report. I won’t pretend to know what the numbers mean, but you’re welcome to look for yourself. I was interested in the section on Projects, which stated the following:

With the start of the Fall 2010 semester, Follett’s and Becks implemented a text book rental program in order to provide a method of obtaining books at a lower price. As of 9/1/10, $84,755 was expended by students at Daley, Olive Harvey, Kennedy-King, and Malcolm X. Follett’s indicated no rentals at their locations as of the first. Administrative Services will follow with Student Services to investigate the reasons for lack of activity since the program was strongly requested by students at Harold Washington and Truman.

There’s also a report from IT–they’ve chosen the Microsoft solution for student, faculty and staff email. They did not say if they will be transitioning email during finals week. What do you want to bet that its either that or during the first week of spring classes?

~There was a nice resolution for Saundra Banyard.

~There were some interesting hires.

~People did great things.

~Faculty Council President Ellen Eason-Montgomery addressed the Board.

I’ll let you decide what the highlight is…for some reason, I couldn’t pick.

Highlights from the Board Report–September 2010

Highlights from the Board Report is a monthly regular 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.

The September Board Report is out, and CCC bought something. A big thing, too.

We bought the Harold Washington Cultural Center (located at 4701 South King Drive) out of foreclosure for $1.78 Million or so. I say, “or so” because CCC is buying the original promisory note, upon which the city (and presumably other creditors) have multiple liens. The Board clearly expects that the City will cancel their liens (and they will then pay off or negotiate any others) and become the owners free and clear (or something like that–it’s probably much more complicated than I just explained here, judging by the Sun Times article on the topic).

Why, you might ask? Because “the Board determined that it has the potential to become leading educational, entertainment and cultural arts venue and would be a valuable asset to CCC.”

Also, news for the moms out there from the HR minutes:  “There is a new federal regulation entitled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which legally requires the district to afford nursing mothers break time and private space to express milk for up to one year after the birth of a child. Guidelines were drafted by the EEO officer and sent to the colleges to ensure the district is in compliance with the new regulation.” I don’t know if HW is in compliance yet, but we should be soon.

The Student Policy Manual was updated. “Foundational Studies” replaced pre-credit, for example, along with a few other minor changes. One big addition was to the Non-Discrimination Policy, wherein several new categories of protected classes were added: “sexual orientation, transgender, genetic predisposition, and carrier status.”

The Board also approved a two year partnership with Year Up.

Not much excitement in the Personnel report this month, except that former District Wide Faculty Council President Keith McCoy was sent from his new spot at the District Office over to Daley to be their V.P.

If you see anything else interesting that I missed, post it in the comments below.

“…Chicago City Colleges cutting some costs…”

If you’ve not seen it in print or online via this Tribune.com link, here it is:

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Richard Daley says the seven Chicago City Colleges are cutting some costs to help pump more money into technology and training for the system’s 115,000 students. The changes include laying off 225 non-teaching employees and eliminating 86 unfilled jobs.

Sadly, I was unable to confirm or obtain details via our own ccc.edu site.

Can someone elaborate?

Anyone?

Bueller… Bueller?

Have a good weekend!