Special board meeting and retreat was Oct. 2
By Cynthia M. Herrera
The Sanaghan Group, an organizational consulting firm, has partnered with the Alamo Colleges to make a plan for faculty input on institutional decisions.
Over the years, faculty, trustees, administrators and the chancellor have not seen eye to eye and trust has been an issue. Pat Sanaghan, president of Sanaghan Group, was hired to mend trust and help create a design-making model to include faculty voices for decisions made in the Alamo Colleges.
At press time, a special board meeting to discuss a decision-making model was scheduled for Oct. 2 at the Norris Conference Center, Park North Shopping Center. Leo Zuniga, associate vice chancellor of communications, said the meeting was for college stakeholders, faculty, administration, staff and board members.
The meeting was to introduce the Alamo Colleges participatory leadership of the faculty decision-making model design team. The meeting was to be open to the public and live-streamed at www.alamo.edu/district/board/videos/.
Sanaghan met with trustees during a special board meeting Sept. 14 in Killen Center.
Sanaghan and the trustees agreed on reasons for Sanaghan to help the Alamo Colleges: Faculty and trustees do not agree on decisions made by the board and a process will be made to help both parties.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zarate said the only faculty members trustees interact with are from Super Senate, and trustees would like to reach more faculty members and receive their input.
“I find that when I approach faculty about some issues, they have no idea what happens at those board meetings. They don’t care. They’re busy with their students. They’re busy with their curriculum. They’re very receptive to a lot of the changes that have happened,” Zarate said.
“I want to be sure that we expand the trust that we’re building with the community to the faculty that are credible, that are productive, that are engineers to the future,” he said.
Sanaghan said there is a breakdown of relationships between trustees and faculty.
“Shared expectations need to be negotiated. A lot of trust has to be built. When you have trust in the system, things move very fast, and when trust is low, you move slow,” Sanaghan said.
District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said the design team needs to include community leaders who know the current work field.
“The only thing that bothers me is that it doesn’t seem to include community leaders who are out in the industry and the business, yet that is where we have our biggest break down,” Rindfuss said. “We’re hearing from our community leaders that we aren’t producing the students they need for their particular job skill.”
“I recognize that faculty only talk to each other, but they need to get those people from everyday life that’s out there employing our graduates and put them on that team, so they understand it’s changing,” Rindfuss said. “Faculty don’t realize how much the world is changing out there, and until we put those people as part of that design team, we’re going to continue to have problems.”
Sanaghan said the Alamo Colleges needs help with retention strategies, transfer policies, initiatives from the chancellor’s office and how they would be implemented.
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon said his problems with faculty are their mutual outlooks.
“Let me identify in my mind, what the problem is between faculty and the board. The board looks at faculty and sees them as self-centered, self-interested individuals who only care about themselves,” McClendon said. “The faculty looks at us as dumb old farts. We have some preconceived notions about each other and the more interaction there is with faculty and the board, I think, the better we can understand each other.”
Trustees said faculty come to the meetings to speak and leave immediately with no desire to stay for the rest of the meeting.
Student trustee Sami C. Adames said faculty should focus on the curriculum they teach rather than worrying about board meetings.
“When you make this communication a lot clearer and more precise, refined, that communication goes down to the right places. You’ll see an increase in student success, not that we haven’t had already, but you’ll definitely see it,” Adames said.
“The faculty won’t be spending their time complaining about other things. They’d be focused about what’s going on in the classroom and I think that’s a big disconnect with them is communication. You got faculty that’s so worried about what’s going on at Tuesday’s board meeting rather that ‘what are we going to do today in class,’” she said.
Black said during an interview Tuesday with The Ranger that McClendon’s comments were an example of how faculty may see the board and vice versa.
“To be honest, I think that Dr. McClendon was speaking about perceptions from both sides. He was basically saying that the board may have inaccurate perceptions of faculty and faculty may have inaccurate perceptions of the board,” Black said. “I think the point of where we are going with this model is to change that. What we are trying to build is relationships among our faculty and administration. This model gives a process for faculty involvement in future decision making.”
Sanaghan responded during the special board meeting saying faculty cares.
“They care just like you do,” he said. “They’re dedicated just like you are. Are there a couple of characters out there? There probably are. They tend to have loud voices.”
Sanaghan said he chooses to involve faculty in the design teams.
“I always like to have a majority of faculty members on the design team because of my experiences,” he said.
“If you don’t have a lot of faculty helping you think through around something like decision-making, or implementation or planning, it won’t get implemented or done very well.”