Faculty Senate invited to review faculty decision-making model before vote

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Trustees set to vote on a draft April 19.

By R. Eguia

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

On Friday, members of the Faculty Senate reviewed the decision-making model that will be presented to the chancellor and board of trustees tonight.

An email was sent to all faculty members last Thursday outlining the model through a Powerpoint presentation.

This current model, labeled draft, was presented to the chancellor April 8, and approved.

“We were really nervous, but we got it all, and there was no resistance to any one suggestion that was made. There were suggestions about how the presentation looks, but the content was completely accepted and moved on to PVC,” Faculty Senate President Lisa Black said.

She walked through the presentation with senate members on Friday.

The entire senate was invited to the presentation and about 10 were present for the discussion.

The plan includes the creation of an executive faculty council that will be responsible for leading the work of faculty and implementing systemwide non-curricular decisions.

The executive faculty council will be selected by the PVC and serve one-year terms. The council will be composed of the five college senate presidents and VPs and one chair of chairs. It will also include collaborating administrative team members, including one college president, three vice presidents, the chancellor the United Staff Council president, and associate vice chancellor of human resources.

Black said the model was created in lieu of formal outlined roles or processes for Faculty Senate and how they get their concerns to the board. She said all of Faculty Senate’s concerns and recommendations are pretty conversational and lack paper work formalities that would prevent items from falling through the cracks.

Some Faculty Senate members present at the discussion questioned whether the new model would eclipse the current model, making its existence redundant.

The new model, as it appears in the flowchart, may allow the new executive faulty council to push agenda concerns without discussions from the Faculty Senate, chairs or Super Senate.

There are no arrows pointing toward the Super Senate from the executive faculty council and the ad hoc teams, indicating no discussion between these parties before concerns are taken to the PVC.

Ad hoc work teams will be commissioned and disbanded by the executive faculty council.

They will be charged with specific work proposals and complete work plans.

The executive faculty council will select faculty members and other stakeholders for the teams.

The new model will initiate development of the current Faculty Senate model to evolve their practices to ensure optimum use and interaction within the model and the new executive faculty council.

Black was open to suggestions, comments and concerns to be considered by the decision-making model committee composed of members from various levels of the district, including four Faculty Senate members, a few vice chancellors, and various faculty members from around the district.

The design team was organized last September and met with consultants from the Aspen Institute.

The team hosted a retreat with faculty, administration, trustees and students on Oct. 2, then presented three potential models to 256 faculty members during employee development days.

The design team sent a survey that was received by 2023 faculty members. Sixty-nine replied with recommendations for this model.

Last month, the design team refined the roles for each representative group and developed processes and procedures.

The plan was inspired by a communication model from Valencia College, winner of the 2011 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The board will discuss this item tonight for a possible vote by the full board next Tuesday at the April regular board meeting.

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3 Comments

  1. “The executive faculty council will be selected by the PVC and serve one-year terms. ”

    If this is true, then it’s not a faculty decision-making model. It amounts to a committee of faculty selected by the PVC, hence an administrator’s tool to usurp faculty input.

    It robs the colleges of their autonomy and dilutes faculty’s real input. Have the other colleges weighed in in a participatory fashion? Who decides which decisions will be discussed? What is considered “curricular” vs “non-curricular”. What about adjunct faculty’s input? Students?

    Trust remains an issue. Faculty who refuse to participate do not trust that this model will lead to authentic inclusion in decision making. It creates the “illusion of inclusion.” This should have been approved via faculty vote – all faculty – and not by an administration-led committee.

    Faculty were duped into an “all faculty retreat” that turned out to be an administrator’s retreat with faculty invited, then called it the Faculty Decision Making Model. And they wonder why they can’t be trusted. Let’s see how many faculty show up to the board to celebrate the DMM.

    Efficiency is not the same as effectiveness. This model gives expediency precedence over an authentic decision making process. In the end, students lose. Democracy loses. This is how administrators usurp the long standing tradition of shared governance that has made US higher education the gold standard in the world.

    This is Leslie’s version of participatory leadership: create a committee led by administrators, have them select faculty, only a few, then dilute real input through a committee that eventually requires affirmation from the PVC and the Chancellor.

    The model is compared to Valencia. It’s far from it. Just study the Valencia model well. The Valencia model is much more robust and gives faculty REAL input. The DMM dilutes faculty input and violates the autonomous nature independent accreditation. The Board of Directors should pay close attention to decision making at the best colleges and universities. They will find that the DMM is a complete outlier. Will anyone research and investigate before the board blindly votes on the DMM?

    If you walk around campus most faculty would say they have no clue about it or don’t trust it will lead to good decisions. It’s not apathy, its disillusionment.

    • Every faculty member who opposes the model should be calling or emailing board members to voice their concerns. Who knows, since it’s election season, board members will be more inclined to listen.

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