Proposal calls for each college to design program.
By Rogelio Escamilla
The Executive Faculty Council will present a student leadership framework recommendation to the board of trustees May 21, which would mandate an integrated system for students to track leadership knowledge, skills and abilities.
The council sent the framework proposal to the Tactical Leadership Team for a final review and approval at the team’s April 15 meeting.
The Tactical Leadership Team, previously called the Presidents and Vice Chancellors committee, is composed of the chancellor, college presidents, vice chancellors and other key district personnel.
The framework, formally known as board policy B.9.1, is the response to a 2017 charge to EFC to recommend a “single, District-wide leadership model framework that identifies competencies that meet the needs of employers and aligns with leadership models used by ISD and university partners,” to the board of trustees.
“The board policy B.9.1 has been in existence, and it just previously had a more prescriptive view of leadership,” said Michael Gardin, English professor and Faculty Senate president at Northwest Vista College.
“It said ‘this is the package, this is the thing we believe leadership is.’ So it’s always been there, it’s always been someone’s job. There’s been labor put forward toward leadership. It’s just we’re re-defining it.”
The original deadline for the framework’s implementation was fall 2018.
According to the proposal, research for the framework ended in February.
Details of the framework, such as total cost and faculty responsibilities, will depend on each college’s implementation strategy.
Gardin said if the board accepts the framework, implementation committees will be established at each college.
“There’s already leadership opportunities at each college,” Gardin said. “So there’s already people that we have an idea would be on those committees. For example, at my college, the student life office does a lot of development for students, so it makes sense that we would at least start there. We don’t have names yet, but it wouldn’t be difficult because we are already doing some of this work.”
The framework will mandate individual colleges create a two-tier program where students will complete and attain a shared set of knowledge, skills and abilities that can be tracked.
The first tier will introduce the knowledge, skills and abilities to students, and they must demonstrate an understanding of the concepts throughout their first two semesters.
The second tier will require students to apply the leadership knowledge, skills and abilities “in class, in extra-curricular activities, through engagement with the community and through opportunities to engage with university and workforce partners,” according to the presentation.
Students will have the responsibility of documenting their progress through each tier via a method determined by each college.
Gardin said colleges could possibly use existing services like AlamoSync, an existing website that is capable of tracking student activities and service hours, as a documentation method because every student already has an account.
Students will have access to their archived assessment of tier progression for two years after graduating or transferring.
“If you go to an interview and say ‘I have critical thinking skills,’ that’s a very not concrete or tangible thing,” Gardin said. “Instead of trying to do that, you might be able to pull out a portfolio of things that you’ve done, especially if it’s outside the classroom, and be able to show evidence and demonstrate it, rather than describe it.”
The knowledge, skills and abilities the framework addresses are critical thinking, effective communication, social responsibility, teamwork and personal responsibility.
An Executive Faculty Council board policy B.9.1/Student Leadership Framework Ad-hoc Committee, which Gardin was a member of, determined these knowledge, skills and abilities to be in demand by employers and universities in 2017.
Council members agreed the framework should leave more room for individual colleges to develop their own methods of implementation, assessment and documentation of student progression through each tier.
The colleges will share their work with each other through an implementation committee at each college to ensure the knowledge, skills and abilities goals are being met by every student.
The implementation committees will also identify a method of documenting tier progression, which is mandated by the framework.
“It would make sense if the folks who are already doing leadership stuff at their college, that they would take this on so it wouldn’t be a huge additional burden on them,” Gardin said. “That’s not really in our privy since we were tasked with coming up with the framework and coming up with how to make this exist.
I’m not willing to say that it would or wouldn’t be a problem or a burden, but it is a consideration that the colleges would have to take into account.”
Lennie Irvin, English professor and this college’s Faculty Senate president, said implementation committee members at this college haven’t been decided yet.
“The idea for Tier 1 is it will be integrated into the curriculum that faculty already do, but just make it more visible,” Irvin said. “Tier 2 is kind of outside the classroom, and we do a lot of that already, and trying to enhance that and offer more opportunities.”
The district would not be involved with the implementation of the framework.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Irvin said. “The part that the faculty is wanting is the idea to scale it up across all five colleges. The colleges need to be empowered to do it on their own, rather than be dependent on the centralized district to deliver it for them and control it. It’s better to have it be flexible and the colleges come up with their own program within the guidelines of the framework.”
Irvin also said the framework doesn’t require students to opt-in, because tier completion isn’t graded or required for graduation.
“Tier one is baked into the curriculum,” Irvin said. “In that respect it’s a little bit more on the teachers to try to accentuate the ways which those knowledge skills and abilities relate to leadership. But I don’t think they’re going to have to have a unit on leadership in their classes.”
Irvin said providing some incentive for students could increase participation, but this is not mandated by the framework and would need to be determined at a college level.
The framework’s next stop will be the committee of the whole meeting May 14, part of the student success committee, and the board at their May 21 regular meeting.
The committee also introduced their lab loading proposal to the board April 16 at the committee of the whole meeting.
The proposal would increase the current workload unit for one lab hour for full time faculty from 0.667 to one. If the change was implemented district-wide, it would cost $6,768,007.12 of the district’s budget.
The committee suggested ways to compensate this cost in the report, like steadily increasing the workload units in phases, or enacting a lab fee for all students, similar to the student activity fee, that generates additional revenue to pay lab instructors.
To reach one workload unit for every lab hour at this college, it would cost $1,729,088.46 of the total cost to the district.