NVC faculty to Chancellor Leslie: Four Questions

At January’s Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Mike Settles from San Antonio College was the lone speaker during Citizens to Be Heard:

Our colleagues at PAC AAUP summarized the following from his address:
  • “The most productive employees are happy employees.  Dr. Leslie has said that it is not his job to make employees happy.”
  • “Faculty morale is at the lowest it has ever been.”
  • “Dr Leslie has been untruthful in….” [several items are mentioned]
  • Regarding the management of money:  “Smaller amount of money goes to instruction and more and more to District.”
  • “Texas A&M University spends 3.6% of its budget on administration.  According to the SAC Ranger [Alamo Colleges] is spending 34% of our budget on administration.”
Please watch.  His remarks begin at 22:30.

On February 3, Chancellor Bruce Leslie responded to Dr. Settles by pounding out a 9 page screed which begins:

Dear Board of Trustees,
In response to the comments made by Alamo Colleges – San Antonio College faculty member, Dr. Mike Settles, at the Regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 20, 2015, and in an effort to promote transparency and responsiveness, I offer the following fact-based points for your consideration…

Please read the full response from Dr. Leslie. It’s a doozy chock full of cherry-picked data.

So on February 25, the NVC faculty senate and NVC AAUP chapter sent a 7 page response to Dr. Leslie and the Board of Trustees which begins:
We faculty at Northwest Vista College have read your response to the concerns raised by Dr. Settles during the December, 2014 Board of Trustees meeting. As public servants at a public institution founded upon the principle of shared governance, we have an obligation to not only develop curriculum and teach our students, but to advocate for adequate classroom resources to accomplish these ends effectively.
With these goals in mind, we are concerned that the “fact-based” claims in your letter, particularly about the budget, seem quite at odds with what we are experiencing at this college. Our average class size has grown to such a degree that our full-time instructors are teaching the equivalent of an extra section of students, for virtually the same pay. At the same time, we have seen too heavy a reliance on part-time faculty to such a degree that it has begun to get the attention of our accrediting agency.
From the perspective of our students, this could mean less interaction with the instructor, a shift to less “grading intensive” (i.e. less academically rigorous) work, and an increased likelihood that their instructors will be contingent adjuncts, not required to hold office hours and likely working at one or more other institutions (See CCSSE data chart below). Given the disconnect between your budget data and our daily experience with students on campus, we wish to pose a few questions to you in the spirit of a principle you embrace: “Seek first to understand…”
Four big questions are then posed:
1. How do you explain the dramatic drop in Instructional Expenditures per FTE student from 2008-2012 at Northwest Vista College, and where did this money go during these years?
2. Are our administrative costs really not growing as District administration has burgeoned?
3. Are you and the Board aware of the negative impact these budget cuts to “Instructional Expenditures” have had on our students?
4. Are you aware that your policies are putting the fiscal viability of the colleges and District in jeopardy by increasing the administrative overhead at the District while pursuing policies that have actually led to enrollment decreases and thus reduced state funding?
Here is NVC’s full response, complete with graphs. This is an absolute MUST READ for everyone in the community as this is only a snapshot of the larger havoc Dr. Leslie’s poor leadership has heaped upon the Alamo Colleges.

knowing

First Step Towards Financial Transparency

From our colleagues at PAC AAUP:

I’d like to give major kudos to Trustee Joe Alderete. His dogged persistence for financial transparency has paid off.  Thanks to his insistence that taxpayers deserve to have quick access to as much financial detail as possible, we can now view precisely how much money is being spent by the Alamo Colleges. The Check Register for the Alamo Colleges is now available under the About Us tab of the District website.  I’ve included screen shots of the webpage and a small sample of the Check Register.
It’s refreshing to see Board members respond to concerned students, faculty, staff and taxpayers.
Financial transparency is only the beginning.  Transparency in decision-making (keeping minutes, providing rationale, etc.) is the next challenge.   With this victory for taxpayers and stakeholders, I’m feeling hopeful that we shall soon be able to ask informed questions and better understand District’s questionable patterns in spending.
Again, kudos to Trustee Alderete’s hard work toward openness and transparency. This is what public service is all about.
Please try out the website that provides the check register. You may find interesting information.
The webpage looks like this:

Sample of the Check Register:

National Adjunct Walkout Day

What would it be like if the Alamo Colleges tried to get through just one day without adjuncts? If college costs keep rising, why are adjunct faculty on welfare? When we tell our adjuncts to attend trainings, meetings and work on projects on their own time without compensation, is that not immoral?

From Inside Higher Ed:

Today Is National Adjunct Walkout Day
February 25, 2015
As part of National Adjunct Walkout Day today, many adjuncts — along with some students and tenure-line faculty members — will walk out of their classes or participate in other forms of protest on campuses across the U.S. and Canada. The idea was posed in the fall on social media to highlight adjuncts’ working conditions, lack of job security and relatively low pay. Many adjuncts on unionized campuses are prohibited by their collective bargaining agreements or state laws from walking out, but many unions have pledged to support the effort through awareness campaigns, such as teach-ins. A list of actions is available here, and updates will be posted throughout the day on Twitter under #NAWD and on Facebook.

Two steps forward, one step back

In the never ending dance with Chancellor Bruce Leslie over majors, we’ve received word that he is way more willing to work with the recent faculty response and plan than we thought he would be. It’s too early to tell if this is a Covey style WIN WIN, but it’s Monday, it’s cold and we could use some good news!

Make no mistake about it, the point where we are at right now has taken an ENORMOUS amount of time, effort and passion on the part of students, parents, community members, staff, faculty, and administrators. Everyone is pretty darn exhausted, but keeping our majors intact at each independently accredited college is probably the most important issue we’ve worked on to date.

Thank you to everyone who has written, presented, talked, planned, and most importantly, asked questions about the majors issue.

Stay warm and have a great week.

dance-steps

 

serenity now

We’ve been publishing a lot of posts in the last few days and appreciate your hanging in there as we move through the mountains of information that is being thrown our way! Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Now let’s unplug a little and have a great weekend.

wellinformed

guess who is slacking on his WIG?

We know Chancellor Bruce Leslie has been pretty busy lately, but dang. He’s really slacking up on his Covey 4DX Wildly Important Goal (WIG). Look at all that red. Guess he doesn’t like doing it any more than we do. But unlike faculty and staff who have supervisors breathing down their necks, who is holding him accountable?

WIG_001

your move, Bruce: faculty send response to Leslie on status of majors

Sent to Chancellor Bruce Leslie, the PVC , the Board of Trustees and all faculty this afternoon. See also: timeline of events surrounding the removal of majors:

Dear Dr. Leslie:

I have attached the faculty response to the status of majors for your consideration. This document and the process of its approval represent hundreds of hours of work by multiple faculty who are genuinely concerned about the education of our students and the betterment of our community. To reach this point, faculty leadership took the following steps:

1. I sent a copy of the agreed-upon language from Super Senate to all faculty and encouraged faculty to work with their senates to provide feedback.

2. Faculty senate leaders consulted with their presidents and sent the plan forward to them for consideration at their February 9th meeting. The presidents approved of the plan but were concerned you might not accept it because of your desire for an overarching District committee. They asked us to consider using both our plan and an overarching District committee that would define the problems we face.

3. All faculty senates consulted their faculty and presented three alternatives: the plan reflecting only an overarching District committee, our plan, and a plan that starts with the District committee and then moves to the colleges. At all five colleges, faculty support was overwhelmingly in favor of presenting you with the original college-based plan.

At this very important crossroads, we acknowledge that the majors issue is complex and transferability of all coursework is a real problem we have to address.  We also recognize this is an issue tied inextricably to the accreditation of each college.  This is why we suggest that research should start with individual colleges’ committees.  It is imperative that each college has a full and clear understanding of the non-negotiable aspects of accreditation, where we are falling short in serving our students, and how to design measurable programs from which all courses transfer.  We welcome open and productive conversations that are informed first with internal research from the collection and assessment of our own data.  The accreditation process has shined the light on areas that deserve our attention, and we are aware that defining problems and divining solutions should be considered in light of these specific problems.

In short, we need space and the support of District to begin the conversation at our individual colleges in order to understand more deeply what is at issue and to gather all of the experts on each campus in order to define our problem areas. Once we identify our own problem areas, we will be ready to move forward with our sister colleges and District to collect and consider additional research, to define problems where they exist across colleges, and to identify common approaches for solving problems where possible.

This is an agenda item at Super Senate today, so we are prepared to begin discussion briefly; however, we would like to have more detailed discussion involving more of the faculty and presidential leadership at all five colleges, particularly those who were crucial in creating the plan. We also would like to include the board of trustees in this dialogue.

We look forward to your written response to our proposal.

Respectfully,

Dawn

Dawn L. Elmore, PhD
SAC Faculty Senate President/Alamo Colleges Super Senate President
Professor of English/Distance
Education Coordinator
San Antonio College