District officials gear up for EDUC 1300 discussion

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Trustees charged Bruce Leslie with implementing EDUC 1300 into the core.

By Bleah B. Patterson

bpatterson13@student.alamo.edu 

EDUC 1300, a course based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and FranklinCovey’s principle-centered leadership, is being considered once again for the core curriculum.

Chancellor Bruce Leslie answered questions about the district’s plans to implement the course during a Sept. 17 Faculty Senate meeting.

At the beginning of this semester, the district’s board of trustees included trying to implement the course into Leslie’s charge, an outline of goals and expectations to the chancellor from the trustees.

Specifically, he was charged with continuing to “reduce or eliminate programs (and) courses no longer necessary or effective. To explore the integration of the course EDUC 1300 into the core programming.”

In the spring, district officials made the decision to add EDUC 1300 to the core curriculum in place of a humanities requirement. In the process, they bypassed district-designated policies for curriculum planning. The events left students and faculty feeling alienated and administrators defensive.

“It’s something that we thought would really benefit students,” Leslie said.

“We put out some feelers initially, but we had to make a decision to meet the (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) deadlines, which we got pushed back. No one was responding, so I made a decision,” he said.

Ultimately, it was a decision that bypassed college and district curriculum committees and, even though it was approved by the district board of trustees, spurred investigation from the regional accrediting agency that threatened the reaffirmation of Northwest Vista, St. Philip’s and this college.

In April, Leslie chose not to pursue the course until the colleges were able to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted the course implemented.

“Two humanities courses aren’t really the best idea for students. This course would have really benefited them,” Leslie said.

“The state department doesn’t necessitate the second humanities. So I began working with the data and made my decision. The faculty fought it, so we decided not to continue the course of action and open up the dialog faculty wanted.”

On Wednesday, Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, said she knows the Presidents and Vice Chancellor Committee, or PVC, will be talking about the course again soon, but she does not know when.

“There has been no planning this term, but on (Sept. 26) we had representatives from FranklinCovey come and talk to us about some new materials they’re developing. We’ve gone ahead and made those materials available to faculty to use for any course, not just EDUC 1300, as supplementary material,” she said.

Fabianke explained the goal from the beginning has been to integrate the leadership principles of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” into the entire curriculum, and administrators still believe requiring students to take EDUC 1300 is the best way to do that.

Leslie said he wants to review data from the 88 sections of EDUC 1300 being offered this semester districtwide. He plans to make a decision for next fall in the spring.

Neil Lewis, humanities professor at Northwest Vista, supported students who fought against the course in the spring and said he is worried if administrators bypass policies again, the outcome will be the same.

“It’s troubling,” he said.

Lewis wants to make sure Leslie, the board and vice chancellors understand there are certain policies that need to be followed and the Alamo Colleges Curriculum Committee, which has faculty and administrators among its members, is consulted.

“They’re the experts,” Lewis said. “Let the experts figure out where this course can best go, or if it should even go. We don’t want to risk the reaccreditation of our colleges by not following the rules.”

District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery said he voted against the charges to the chancellor because he did not agree with them.

However, he is hopeful. “The charges had a lot of give and take. My thought on it is, as long as it fits through the proper process without any work around, then the issues with EDUC 1300 will hopefully be worked out. There are a number of opportunities for faculty and students to provide input if the process proceeds as it should,” he said.

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