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.

 

 

Reminder: Vote for FC4 Reps

Voting is happening right now in your department office for the two candidates running to represent Harold Washington College at Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago (i.e., FC4).

Just in case you read this but not emails, here are the bios of the candidates, as presented in the HWFC email you received from HWFC President Jess Bader:

Hello Faculty,

We are excited to present the two candidates who have been nominated for the district level Faculty Council (FC4). Check out their bios, and be sure to vote next week. The polls will be open from Monday through Friday September 28th – October 2nd.

 

Phillip Vargas

My name is Phillip Vargas, and I am an Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of 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. After serving as a substitute FC4 representative for the last few months I believe my voice on FC4 can help to improve the dialogue between the colleges and with district office. If elected, I would be honored to represent HWC in this capacity.

 

Jennifer Meresman

I’ve always been passionate about public education and feel very lucky to be a full-time faculty member at the Harold Washington. I first formally studied public education as an American institution when I wrote my undergrad thesis on public schools as a site for teaching civic engagement in order to strengthen democracy. This theoretical study led me to want hands-on experience teaching in a public school, so I then taught special education middle school math in Oakland, CA for three years. Although I immediately found that I loved working with students, I realized a middle school was not the right place for me, so I got a Master’s degree with the explicit goal of teaching at the community college level. After completing a Master’s in Humanities at the University of Chicago, I got a full-time position in the English Department at Harold Washington in 2006.

In 2011 I joined Reinvention, and I focused my time there on the redesign of the tenure process. I was passionate about this project because I see tenure as both an incredible opportunity and responsibility that both enables and obligates faculty to participate in shared governance, directing the course of public education. Through the two-year redesign, I got an opportunity to work with both administrators and faculty across the seven colleges, and became committed to strengthening relationships between all of these parties, ensuring that we are working together towards a shared mission.

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.

Faculty Council Corner

Faculty Council Corner is a regular Thursday morning-ish feature (that sometimes shows up later) , presenting an open thread for you to bother your HWFC members with pressing questions (or for us to post the pressing questions that you have). Also, you can expect this to be the forum where we post regular updates about what is happening with Faculty Council and when.

This Week’s Updates: Since the last update, the 8th annual Meet and Greet happened, which (I hear) was a great success; special thanks goes to Jennifer Armendarez and Rachel Iannantuoni for organizing and hosting!

The other big news is that the April HWFC meeting will be Tuesday, April 18th at 4pm in room 1046. All are welcome and invited. See you there!

Last Week’s Questions: None.

Faculty Council Corner

Faculty Council Corner is a regular Thursday morning-ish feature (that sometimes shows up later) , presenting an open thread for you to bother your HWFC members with pressing questions (or for us to post the pressing questions that you have). Also, you can expect this to be the forum where we post regular updates about what is happening with Faculty Council and when.

This Week’s Updates: Lots of stuff to report this week (which is why it’s late!)

1.8th Annual Meet and Greet: Social Co-Chairs and awesome people Jenny Armendarez and Rachel Iannantuoni (pronounced: Yan-a-TOE-ni) have decided to revive a tradition started by the late great Isabelle Belance to get the school’s faculty (full-time and part-time alike) in a room together for a little frivolity and grousing and morale boosting and music and convo. I’ll let Rachel and Jenny give you the details:

[This year’s HWC Faculty Meet & Greet will be on]Wednesday, March 28th, 2-5pm in room 1115. As usual, we look forward to meeting any new faculty and encourage everyone to stop by! Music will be provided by the first one who gets to the audio jack with their IPOD/MP3 Playlist.

Some games will be available and if there is enough interest, a Words With Friends competition! Potential topics of conversation for the event: March Madness, Spring Break Destinations and the usual investigatory conversations about who is the Realist!

Food, like paper, is no longer provided for College activities, so we are asking those who are interested to bring their specialty dishes or contribute to a fund for cheese/fruit platters.

Please RSVP to Rachel by Mon, March 26th regarding whether you would like to bring a dish to share or contribute to our cash food fund–contact new faculty member Rachel Iannantouni:  RIannantouni@ccc.edu, ext. 5616.

For more general information please contact Jenny Armendarez at jarmendarez@ccc.edu, ext. 5898.

2. Budget Request: At our last HWFC meeting, we discussed whether to ask for any Budget lines though the office of instruction and, after some discussion, came to a consensus (of sorts) on three:

A) Release time for the President of Faculty Council (every President does a TON of work, meeting attendance, communication, and more; plus we figured that this would be a way for the administration to formally recognize the value and importance of Faculty Leadership);

B) A Chunk of Money for Funding Annual, Faculty-Driven, Curriculum Related Events and Festivals (a few years ago, some of us kicked around the idea of a kind of ad-hoc Arts Council that could disperse money to groups and faculty who want to do special events (i.e. Latino Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, etc.). In the past, Faculty have had to choose between unsavory options like: 1) raiding/begging for scraps from a department budget; or 2) going through Student Government (putting some of us in the weird position of asking students we were teaching to fund our special projects and also led to difficulty for fall events given that SGA usually takes a few months to get settled and funded and going (by the time they held a meeting, it was often too late for some of the events); or 3) pleading with and administrator to release the hounds, as it were, which put the groups asking for money in the spring at an advantage relative to those who asked in the fall (unless it was all spent, in which case the people in the spring went begging elsewhere). So the hope is to set up a mechanism/application process whereby faculty would apply to Faculty Council for the funding for these types of events and FC would approve/recommend approval (not exactly sure how it will work yet).)

C. Some Cash for Hosting Faculty Wide Speakers/Events Related to Curriculum (e.g., ICCB, IAI, Programs), Academic Issues, etc.

We are happy to report that all three requests made it into the draft budget anyway. We’ll see if they make it from the draft into the approved budget sometime soon.

3. Joint Union-Faculty Council Meeting: Next Tuesday, March 27th, from 3:30 to 5pm somewhere (assume room 1046 unless you hear otherwise) there will be a joint faculty council/union meeting to discuss the proposal to change the tenure process AND the work that the same team has done on a proposal to change the Post-Tenure Review Process (which is contractual). Watch your email for more information on this as it develops.

4. Emergency Plan: I’m sure you were all as pleased as I was to see that, in response to the Tribune investigation kerfuffle, the district”s emergency plan, which includes the college specific emergency plans, has been submitted to the state, per state law, as of March 19th (as reported in your email on March 19th). Unfortunately, they are about the only ones who know what it says…I mean, am I crazy to think that the biggest threat to our college is the fact that, by their own admission, most of our faculty don’t know what to do in emergencies and don’t know how to access the information? The gates are going to be “great” and all, but unless they have magic powers, they’re not going to be very helpful. Raise your hand if you have a safe key and an index card in your classroom when you’re teaching (you know, those two things that you’ll need for a lockdown in the case of an active shooter or something awful like that). Better yet, ask that question at your next meeting (departmental or otherwise). I believe it was three years ago, or so, that Faculty Council asked for LARGE PRINT signs with the security number on it to be posted in each classroom. Still waiting. (sigh).

Last “Week’s” Pressing Questions: Anonymous asked: Does anyone know are CCC classes being taught at Chicago high schools? I have no new information on this besides what I wrote in the comments last time. Anyone else?
Everything else, especially the stuff I got wrong or missed, in the comments please

Faculty Council Corner

Faculty Council Corner is a regular Thursday morning-ish feature (that sometimes shows up later) , presenting an open thread for you to bother your HWFC members with pressing questions (or for us to post the pressing questions that you have). Also, you can expect this to be the forum where we post regular updates about what is happening with Faculty Council and when.

This Week’s Updates: We’re still working on a date for a joint Union/FC meeting, but it should happen in early March sometime. Of more urgency is this from HWFC Rep and Grievance Chair Anthony Escuadro:

With one more week to go until the contract survey is closed on March 7, there have been only 8 responses to the survey questionnaire. Of those 8 people who responded, six are from full-time faculty, one is from a full-time professional, and one is from a part-time professional. In other words, this small group of eight people will have an immense say in what concerns and suggestions get relayed to the Union leadership about the upcoming contract.

There’s still time to make your voice heard at [Dave here: the survey is hosted on a Google site which anyone with access would be happy to send you or give you–you do NOT need to sign up with Google for anything in order to fill out the survey! I do not want to post it here, though, so as to control for takers and fakers.]. The survey should take around 15-20 minutes to complete.

If you are one of those eight people who have completed the survey, thank you [you’re welcome!]. If you have been waiting to voice your thoughts on the upcoming contract, now is the time. And if you have some ideas or opinions on the upcoming contract, but for whatever reason you don’t want to complete the survey, let us know why so that we can make improvements to the way we get feedback from the Union members.

So, just in case it is helpful to see an example, my own answers when I did it were as follows:

Areas that I’d like to see addressed:

1.Increased funding for professional development (higher levels of tuition and conference reimbursements)

2. Distance Learning/CDL sections, especially the section on Intellectual Property Rights

3. Gender neutral language

4. Other stuff that I’d be happy to see addressed:
~An improved statement on Academic Freedom
~Faculty Evaluations (Post Tenure Review)
~A solution for Team Teaching
~Department Chair Duties (Stipend/more release time? The departments are huge relative to their past on account of the adjunct explosion. Combine that with turnover and tons of new administrative duties and the chair job has become nearly impossible for most of them)
~Fix the academic calendar so spring M/W classes don’t meet only 30 times, compared to 32 for T/Th in spring and 31 for M/W and T/H in the fall.

I’m sure that there are many of you who have even better ideas. I hope that you’ll share them with our union leadership who in just offering this survey has already done more to solicit information from the membership about contract negotiations than I’ve seen since 2003. Let’s show them that their efforts are appreciated…

Last “Week’s” Pressing Questions: None.

More next week, I’m sure.