Senators will meet at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
By Faith Duarte
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete said open communication between the colleges and district is imperative to student success during a Faculty Senate meeting Wednesday.
“I decided that one of the main things I was going to do as a board member, if nothing else, was to stay completely focused on student success,” Alderete said. “And nothing was going to deviate me from that.” Alderete encouraged members of the senate to feel free to voice their concerns throughout the meeting.
Tenure was a major topic among senators.
Nursing Adjunct Toni Scialdo said she has noticed morale in the nursing department has decreased as full-time faculty become overloaded.
“I just want to know how the college, as a leadership, think they’re going to go ahead and get full-time, dedicated to the mission, committed (faculty) if they’re going to continue with no tenure,” she said. “We’re getting people that are committed to XYZ hospital, and they come in and work maybe two days a week here at SAC.
Government Professor Suzanne Martinez said district administration should be responsible for granting tenure to full-time faculty.
“What’s interesting to me is that we’re focusing on tenure and whether it’s good or bad,” she said. “Tenure is a good thing. Job security doesn’t mean you get to do whatever, and we’re all very aware of that, but it’s a responsibility on behalf of the administration to faculty members.”
A district policy concerning tenure was delayed at a May 23 regular board meeting.
Alderete said that he favors tenure and would like a tenure policy to ideally combine visions of both Chancellor Bruce Leslie and faculty from across the colleges.
He said he would want to “make sure it’s something that has value for an institution and really satisfies all of the concerns that you bring.” English Chair Mike Burton said faculty members should be able to apply their various strengths to create wellrounded curriculum for students rather than Chancellor Bruce Leslie’s approach.
“It seems to me that what he sees is that if we get the best minds to design the curriculum, anybody can teach,” he said. “What tenure does — and what we kind of value in the San Antonio College culture — is you get the best people, show them the standards that we want, and let them operate according to their strengths to reach that.”
Tenure is a protection of faculty integrity, Burton said.
English Professor Alex Bernal said the issue of faculty integrity affects the ability to select textbooks for their classes.
According to senate minutes, the district has proposed new guidelines that would go into effect in the fall to reduce textbook costs and standardize textbook usage districtwide.
“This business about multiple texts seems like a small thing, but it’s really a huge thing,” Bernal said. “Some of our students become teachers, business people, lawyers, doctors; people who might want to be able to think and be able to select more than one textbook.”
Bernal said faculty and district administration have opposing views on whether students should be required to use more than one textbook for a class.
“My honest opinion was it’s not the number of textbooks — you can have 20 as far as I’m concerned,” Alderete said. “It’s the cost to the student.”
“We can keep that cost down,” Bernal said. “It’s the idea of critical thinking, that the instructor can actually choose the book.”
Alderete said he was concerned about lowering textbook costs for students, not limiting what students learn in the classroom.
“To me, it is an economic issue and not an issue of trying to narrow that person’s understanding,” he said.
Alderete said faculty should teach outside of the curriculum as long as it does not come with additional costs to the student.
“I don’t have a problem with your academic freedom,” he said.
“I enjoy your academic freedom. My thing is I’m looking at that student and the costs that are driven by that.” Linda Lowman, early childhood studies professor, said the curriculum should not be standardized and instead needs to promote diversity.
“I don’t think we should ever be moving towards a standardized curriculum,” she said. “In this day and age, diversity is valued. Our students need to have diversity.”