Members ask for minutes from Super Senate meetings for transparency purposes.
By Wally Perez
A run-through of recommendations to the decision-making model, which were suggested during the Alamo Colleges board of trustees meeting April 26, was presented during the Faculty Senate meeting May 4 in the visual arts center.
The model that was presented was the result of conversations with the college executive team and how faculty will interact with them.
Communication is a major problem among faculty, which leads them (to think they are) being kept out of the loop, Faculty Senate President Lisa Black said.
The model entails bi-directional communication so faculty gets information and that they’re able to give input and have influence on decisions.
Trustees had three primary recommendations for the decision-making model and the team, which are to create an executive faculty council, create a faculty decision-making website, and create robust faculty development around leadership and collaboration skills training, Black said.
“What faculty was tired of was that decisions were made pretty quickly and then don’t go well, which ends up imploding on ourselves,” Black said. “Everyone ends up being more frustrated, and it takes a lot more energy to undo once those things are done.”
Trustees wants to ensure participation is timely, Black said.
“Sometimes, the board feels like when they send decisions our way that they take a long time to come up with a recommendation,” Black said.
Black couldn’t give a response on what the board constitutes as a long time, but she said there will be a time commitment in the model.
“With the time commitments, they will say we’ll have something like two weeks to engage, or two months, depending on the topic,” Black said.
The guiding principles for the model are making better decisions, building trust and respect, establishing a culture of inclusive collaboration and communication, ensuring accountability through transparency and defined roles, and making data-informed decisions, Black said.
“We’re going to do three things no matter what. We’re going to do change management, which honors the people side of change, recognizing that if you’re going to require people to do things differently, you need to tell them when to do it and how it impacts them,” Black said.
“The second piece is project management, which makes sure that as faculty members, we’re managing the project side of things; we keep to a timeline, keep on the path and don’t wander off.”
Last is sponsorship and leadership; It’s the idea that faculty needs the support of administrators, Black said.
“Dr. (Mike) Flores (Palo Alto College president) opened the door for us and made us credible,” Black said. “He was the sponsor for the design team. If there were resources needed, he got it for us. He gave us legitimacy at the PVC (presidents and vice chancellors council).”
Black explained the purpose of the executive faculty council and defined the members.
The council is responsible for leading the work of faculty in making and implementing system-wide noncurricular decisions. The council will meet regularly to discuss proposed initiatives, advance the strategic direction and positively impact the Alamo Colleges, Black said.
The council consists of 18 members; 11 are faculty members, which include five college senate presidents, five college senate vice presidents and the district chair of chairs, Black said
In addition, there are collaborating administrative team members on the council, which include one president, one vice president of academic success and one vice president of student success. These positions serve one-year terms and are chosen by PVC.
Permanent members on the collaborating administrative team include the chancellor, the vice chancellor of academic success, the associate vice chancellor of human resources and the United Staff Council president.
In other news, the senate re-elected its top three officers to serve in 2016-17. In addition to Black, criminal justice Professor Tiffany Cox vice president and Spanish Professor Tammy Perez secretary.
History Professor Mike Settles was nominated for president, but Settles respectfully declined.
English Professor Mariano Aguilar was nominated for vice president but also declined.
The senate also welcomed new senators, Barbara Knotts, director of creative multimedia; Lisa Zotarelli, chair of history, economics, anthropology and political science; nursing Instructor Tonya Maunsell; natural sciences Chair Teanna Staggs; mortuary science Professor José Moreno; and English Professor Lenny Irvin.
Fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt asked about feedback from Super Senate on the recommendations the policy and procedure committee made on pushing grade deadlines by 24 hours.
Black said Super Senate didn’t support it.
“There were eye rolls, and remarks like ‘are you kidding me?’ They were pretty adamant that it was something they wouldn’t get behind,” Black said.
Hunt also requested feedback regarding faculty not be penalized for D grades in calculating the productive grade rate.
“It should be recorded as a productive grade for us and students,” Hunt said.
Black said they were more interested in the standard deviation model that Northwest Vista College is using, where they look at faculty across the department, so the comparison is among colleagues rather than the standard number grades like a 70, which is what Super Senate proposes.
“I floated the idea (D grades) to Dr. (Jothany) Blackwood (vice president of academic success) who said the problem wouldn’t create improvement across the board, which is what we get now by looking at everybody,” Black said.
No one volunteered to champion the issue when Black brought it up at Super Senate, but Joseph Coppola, Faculty Senate President at Palo Alto College, seemed interested after the meeting, she said.
Irvin followed up by saying he has students who have B’s in his class, but drop because it’s an A or nothing, which is then held against him.
“I think it’s terrible that type of student is held against us,” Irvin said.
Black said that is another thing they need to look into and bring to the attention of Super Senate.
“We definitely want to know about those students, as well as those who don’t come to school due to other issues like poverty,” Black said.
Settles brought up the idea of the senate acquiring minutes from Super Senate meetings so they can all understand what’s discussed and what suggestions are made.
“It’s for transparency purposes,” Settles said.
Black said she would take that idea back to Super Senate to see if minutes could be recorded for future discussions.
Counselor Steve Samet added to that by saying any time a forum or meeting with the president or whoever occurs that involved Faculty Senate concerns, it would be nice to have someone taking notes.
“Not all of us can make those meetings so it would help,” Samet said. “We as senators need to know what’s being addressed and discussed.”
Black said it was a good idea and will work on getting members present for meetings such as those to take notes for others.