ReinQuestion?–Vol. 5

ReinQuestion? appears every Thursday and is an open thread for members of the HW and CCC community to post questions about the ongoing Reinvention. Any and all questions are invited, and anyone who knows an answer to any question posted is encouraged to answer it in the threads below.

First off, apologies for the late posting; by way of explanation, I wanted to let the snow closing stay on top for the early birds, in case they missed it.

So, we left off last week with a few lingering questions whose answers required a little patience. They were:

1) What now? (expressed in more specific terms as: A) What is our relationship with the Reinvention Team (RT)? B) Does a member of the RT contact our local president? C) Does our district-wide president communicate with the RT? D) If RT has not contacted FC, do we plan on getting in touch with them? E) Am I being too idealistic or does it make sense to have this relationship in place?)

2A) Will Cecilia [Lopez] make unilateral decisions regarding curriculum? (This question arose due to Cecilia’s calling of a meeting “to discuss English developmental courses” that did not include the members of the Task Force)

2B) Will the task force have any role in curriculum decisions and if not, what is the point?

1) The answer to Question #1 is still evolving, and, again, I should have more information after next week’s HWFC meeting (Tuesday @ 3:30, room 1046 (for now), but it might be moved next door pending turnout), when we will be visited by Theresa Carlton (Remediation Task Force) and hopefully the other HW members of the task forces for updates on their activities and process so far. It will be a great opportunity to hear directly from the task force members and get a better sense of what Reinvention actually looks like.

(Theresa also emphasized that she is willing to take any and all questions and seek out answers from district honchos, fellow task forces, or the powers of the universe, so long as she gets them early enough to direct them at the right people; so if you have a question, post it!)

I think everyone–local FC, FC4, and the Task Force members–is still feeling out how to build effective communication channels and gather and share information. For example, our local FC has been contacted by a couple of members of another Task Force (Staff and Faculty Development) who are going around to all of the Faculty Councils to conduct focus group meetings in order to gather information about faculty conceptions, desires and needs with respect to Professional Development. I will have more information on this meeting for you as we work out the format and logistical issues, but you should pencil in late afternoon on February 22nd if you are interested in hearing/talking about those issues.

As our relationships (and understanding) of the task forces grow, we (HWFC) are still looking at a few different plans for how HW faculty and staff can engage with and take advantage of the process and opportunity for self improvement that the Reinvention represents. Let’s face it–there’s lots of stuff that we’d all like to change for the better. I mean does anyone think that our purchasing process is sensible? Does anyone think the hiring packet is awesome? Does anyone think that the student advising (not just the advisors–I’m talking about faculty advising for classes, ongoing advising by everyone for graduation and transfer, etc) is the creme de la creme? Does everyone love our registration policies and processes? Is there anyone at all out there who thinks that teaching and curriculum and student support could be improved?

My point is that Reinvention–whatever else it is–represents a great opportunity to develop some consensus (locally) about how we’d like things to run. If we can get those ideas into the Reinvention Recommendations, so much the better; if we can’t, well then, we’ll have them at the ready for future experiments and reinventions or possible replacement suggestions should the reinvention recommendations prove ineffective.

We have a few morphing plans for “what’s next” locally under consideration at the moment, but should have something more complete worked out in the next FC meeting.  Rest assured, we are trying to figure out something that will work, be useful, and create opportunities for broad participation.

2A) Something of a loaded question here–prior questions that we need to get answered (and are seeking answers for) are a) was there a meeting? b) what was it about? c) who was there? d) what were the results/action goals? Perhaps the meeting led to a consensus about the effectiveness (or lack) of Intcom 100, or maybe it was merely a brainstorming session. Maybe it led to a unilateral decision (which would seem to imply a decision made by AVC Lopez that ran against the opinions and advice of everyone at the meeting (in the world?). Maybe not. In my own experience with her, that has not been her approach to such situations. She certainly has ideas about what ought to happen with respect to certain things, but in my experience with her through four years as a department chair, she has always been very responsive to both well developed counter-arguments and new information/evidence.

Personally, I don’t see the non-presence of a Task Force member at the meeting as a problem. The Task Forces are conducting inquiry, right? They are formulating questions, hypothetical answers to those questions, developing data sources to support or refute their hypotheses. In the meantime, practical decisions have to be made–decisions about the fall schedule for example, and what programs/classes will be offered. The Task Forces will make their recommendations (along with the other advisory panels, don’t forget) and those recommendations may very well overturn the decisions made now, but until they are made and weighed, why include them?

My concern would be if the meeting was about curriculum and had no FC4, Committee A, or local faculty representation. Ultimately, Cecilia is the #2 Academic person in the system, so it makes sense that the penultimate recommendation lies with her (recommended to the Provost, approved by the Chancellor). I would only see a problem if faculty had no input and/or no consensus agreement on the path forward, given faculty (and Faculty Council’s) responsibility for Curriculum recommendations.

This is a long way of saying that we will try to find out what the meeting was about, who was there, and what happened.

2b) As suggested above, I take the point of the task forces to be the conduct of an inquiry process into these various areas, with the goal of them making a set of recommendations. The recommendations will not be the only ones made, which has all of us a little nervous (or should), so their weight and likelihood to become policy is unclear. We should definitely not think of them as being in charge of or making curricular decisions, though. That is downright dangerous. We have a strong, effective, peer-review curriculum process already–one that generations of administrative teams have tried to skirt, ignore, or bullrush in one way or another, sometimes at the behest of individual faculty members, sometimes in contradiction to the wishes of all of them–and we should all work to make sure that process is understood, recognized, and protected by demanding that any and all curriculum recommendations that are made as a result of Reinvention or anything else be subject to that process and, so, be understood and ratified (or modified) by faculty.

Please keep your questions coming, and keep your eyes out for more information as things develop over the next week or so.