Survey shows faculty members don’t feel respect from administrators.
By Austin P. Taylor
Faculty learned the entire biology faculty has win-win agreements at the Faculty Senate roundtable Sept. 29 in the visual arts center.
Faculty morale was one of the most discussed topics from a survey dispensed to the faculty during the spring semester.
Faculty members gathered in Room 120 of the visual arts center to discuss ways to improve faculty morale and involvement with the Faculty Senate.
The survey also queried faculty on productive grade rate win-win agreements, four-day class schedule, the new withdrawal process and the perception of the Faculty Senate.
The roundtable participants were separated into six groups; each group was dedicated to a specific issue. Because win-win agreements caused by productive grade rates were such a controversial topic, two tables were dedicated to that discussion.
Many of the attendants interviewed by The Ranger asked to remain anonymous, to avoid retaliation. The concerns brought up include punitive measures, such as reprimands for insubordination and the loss of their jobs, which was the main concern of newer employees.
One anonymous program coordinator complained about the lack of communication between faculty and human resources. They said they had hired two people over the summer and couldn’t get HR to tell them when the new hires could actually work.
Another attendant was concerned by an initiative overload and the lack of influence faculty has on incoming initiatives.
Many faculty members weren’t consulted about recent initiatives before their implementation and many find this to be both unprofessional and humiliating.
English Professor Donna Duke-Koelfgen said not allowing teachers to provide feedback is a major issue.
“If you roll out initiatives like they’ve been doing, without allowing the faculty to provide feedback and revising based upon that feedback, you’re going to create some hostility,” Koelfgen said in an interview with The Ranger Oct 9.
Koelfgen believes one way the district can improve faculty morale is to provide sabbaticals for permanent faculty members.
“Sabbaticals are offered at Valencia (College) and they’re seen as our sort of role model,” Koelfgen said. “Something like sabbaticals could be used to reinvigorate our staff and make them excited to work in their fields again. I think we need to use positive reinforcement.”
The problems faced by adjuncts were also brought up during the roundtable.
Adjuncts work part-time on a semester-by-semester basis. They’re paid by the class at a rate much lower than that of permanent faculty and receive no benefits.
Koelfgen said a major problem faced by adjuncts is the lack of job security.
“They’re not protected under any contracts, and they don’t receive basic medical benefits,” Koelfgen said. “They don’t have a sense of ‘I’ll still have a job next semester.’”
Koelfgen went on to explain that putting adjuncts under contracts and giving them medical benefits would go a long way to raising their morale, along with a pay raise.
PGR win-win agreements were a heavily discussed topic at the roundtable.
The win-win agreements are assessment tools used by the administration to improve the grade rates of departments that fail to meet an expectation of 70 percent of students passing.
Ensuring this goal puts a heavy demand on the instructor. This is especially true in classes that have high-level conceptual and technical components, such as the science and math departments.
Instructor Dan Hansen, program coordinator for biology and the natural sciences, said that most of the biology faculty is working under win-win agreements. Which means that they must come up with a plan to improve productive grade rates within their classes.
These agreements are between department chairs and faculty members within struggling programs. Faculty members are supposed to formulate a plan to bring up the overall PGR of their classes. Examples of how instructors have tried to improve class PGR’s include being available for tutoring and putting up extensive online study materials.
“When you have a department that understands why we need to keep academic rigor up, it’s hard to come up with solutions,” Hansen said. “I could give a 20 percent curve tomorrow and solve all of my PGR problems, but that wouldn’t help the students.”
Hansen also said that students are stretched thin as is, so adding materials can only do so much to help PGR.
Some roundtable participants, faculty members who refused to sign win-win agreements, have been threatened with punitive measures that include the loss of tenure and reprimands for insubordination, which would significantly damage someone’s ability to seek re-employment as a teacher.
The perception of the Faculty Senate also was discussed at length during the roundtable survey.
“The common concern with the Faculty Senate is that there are so many chairs on the senate,” Koelfgen said. “The senate is now kind of viewed as an arm of the administration, instead of a platform where the faculty can voice their concerns.”
Roundtable participants noted the lack of communication between the Faculty Senate and the rest of the faculty as a primary problem. Every discipline at this college is not represented on Faculty Senate, so many faculty members don’t know about the senate’s operations unless they tracked down someone in another department.
While no action to correct these fears was formulated at the roundtable, the meeting wasn’t viewed as a failure by the senate.
“Well, we got what we wanted,” Julie Engel, Faculty Senate president, said. “We heard what they had to say, now we need to compile it all and find out where to go from here.”