TONIGHT: Board Committee Meeting and Alamo INSTITUTES presentation

Summer has been busy and a lot of faculty have been off contract. But District and college administration have kept up their hurried pace, pushing throught various initiatives such as the Alamo INSTITUTES. Our own Dr. Vela appeared in a traveling roadshow with Trustee Kingsbury and Student Trustee Jacob Wong (didn’t he finally graduate?!?) to “help employees understand the importance of Alamo Institutes and the district’s new advising model.” An initiative which has unfortunately suffered from very little faculty input.

SAC Faculty Senate Chair Lisa Black sent this email to all faculty. Emphasis ours. If you can attend tonight’s Board Committee Meeting, please do.



Attached you will find the Power Point presentation and Board Packet which will accompany a joint faculty senate presentation to the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees.  The presentation will be given at the BOT student success committee meeting on Tuesday, July 21st, at 6pm.  This email is both an explanation of the events and work that led up to this presentation, and a request for your valuable feedback.

This presentation is the culmination of over a year’s worth of significant research and consideration by faculty across all five of our colleges concerning the issue of majors and AlamoINSTITUTES.  We have worked on this issue as college senates, focused committees, and during larger joint senate meetings.  We have spoken with our respective administration leadership, as well as District leadership.  We have held meetings with several members of the Board of Trustees.  We have traveled to other community college districts for guidance. Based on our research and ongoing discussions with all of these groups, we have reached the following conclusions:

AlamoINSTITUTES is going forward with or without our input.  It is imperative that faculty actively continue to work toward a place at the table in which our collective voice is influential in how AlamoINSTITUTES is implemented and maintained.  We are asking the Board and District administration to implement AlamoINSTITUTES slowly, thoughtfully, in stages over several years so that faculty can provide meaningful direction.

Our current model with majors in each discipline is not the best choice for students IF they do not lead to fully or nearly fully transferable coursework into a Bachelor’s degree or to a specific career goal.  If done right, the AlamoINSTITUTES model will provide clear pathways to universities and jobs without excessive coursework.  Ideally, we want to work toward transfer agreements in which students are guaranteed admission into a program of study at a 4 year college or university upon graduation from one of the Alamo Colleges. There are students that a 4 year degree is not their immediate goal due limits of time, money and purpose. There will be a need for some disciplines to maintain stand alone (not transfer plans) AA and AS degrees for students. We are asking the Board to ensure protections in the policy that allows a process in which we work across colleges to identify and continue offering these degrees, keeping in mind that we must step up to assess them rigorously at a program level if that is not already being done.

Finally, we are asking the Board to acknowledge and support that we need a clearly defined decision making model to be used across the District and all colleges so that faculty are able to participate meaningfully in decisions affecting curriculum and other areas of faculty responsibility and expertise.  This model can clearly define our roles and hold all participants accountable for working within those roles.  We believe this will move us forward positively and productively in future work across the colleges and with the District administration.

Please take a look at the power point presentation and the Board of Trustees packet.  Senators from three colleges (SAC, PAC, and SPC) will be giving the presentation.

Friday News Dump: No More Majors at SAC

Dr. Robert Vela ended his first year as President of San Antonio College on a low and ominous note. He sent an email to Faculty at 5:03pm today declaring no majors on diplomas or transcripts for AA and AS degrees.

He was spotted earlier in the day having a very long lunch with an exceedingly somber looking Dr. Robert Zeigler, SAC’s ex-President. Seeking advice from his mentor, perhaps?

Its very unfortunate that Dr. Vela has chosen to accept Chancellor Bruce Leslie’s interpretation of the correspondence with SACSCOC. So many faculty were working very hard to keep majors intact for their students. There is absolutely NO REASON WHY we have to eliminate major designations on degrees and transcripts.

But the majors issue has always been a solution looking for a problem.

Here’s the email. Sorry, students.


Tonight’s Board Committee Meetings: One-Two Punch

Whoa. What is Bruce Leslie up to now? Read through the highlights from these two agenda items for tonight’s meeting. Sounds like an AlamoINSTITUTIONALIZATION of Covey and an all out assault on freedom of speech between employees and the Board:

Student Success Committee

Discussion and Possible Action on Approval of AlamoINSTITUTES’ Stackable, Guided Pathways Model

  • Ensure maximum hour transfer to the universities through tuning and alignment of the courses.
  • Reduce Bexar County taxpayer cost for unnecessary courses from $46 million to $20 million.
  • Stipulate that all programs have employment competencies (marketable skills) and learning outcomes including the Board’s policy of Principal Centered Leadership.
  • See: Action Commitment for more info, especially the Policies and Participation sections

Policy and Long-Range Planning Committee

Discussion of Principles of Board Governance Relating to Trustees Individual Communications with Constituents and Appropriate Means of Communication Between the Board and Students, Faculty, and Staff

  • The purpose of the Board’s committees is to carry out the business of the Board. The Board’s meetings should only be scheduled with the knowledge and understanding/ assistance of the Chancellor.
  • “Citizens to be heard” is not the appropriate venue for employees to communicate with the Board
  • Instead, the Board hereby considers adopting opportunities for employee and student leaders from the Board’s recognized governance organizations, those being the Faculty Super Senate, the Unified Staff Council, and the Student District Council, to make presentations from time to time before the entire Board within the posted agendas of the Regular, Committee, or Special Board meetings, after first meeting with the Chancellor and seeking proactive 3 strategies that will improve the Alamo Colleges and Student Success;
  • Upon request of one or more of these organizations to the Chancellor, an item may be added to the Board’s Regular Meeting agenda under “Chancellor’s Report,” whereby specific topics may be posted for discussion between the employee/student group, the Chancellor, and the Board of Trustees;
  • A majority of the Trustees may request that the Chancellor add to the Chancellor’s Report agenda items they wish to discuss with the employee/student group at an upcoming meeting;
  • The Chancellor may request, and if a majority of the Trustees agree, a special meeting or retreat may be scheduled in order to discuss with the employee/student groups items of interest to be added to the meeting’s agenda.

Leslie’s Latest “Nunsense”

Seriously, what is WRONG with Chancellor Bruce Leslie?!? And why isn’t the Board more concerned about his reckless actions?!?

Bruce now has an 8th “habit” to concern himself with – Sr. Gabriella Lohan, Co-Chair of COPS/Metro:
  • Leslie sent this memo to the Board in which he twists an out-of-context quote from Sr. Gabriella to “prove” his specious argument regarding the removal of majors and declare that COPS/Metro does not support students and faculty.
  • Sr. Gabriella sent this response to Leslie and the Board which corrects Leslie’s assertions and less than honorable interpretation of their conversation.
In his memo, Leslie also quotes UTSA President Ricardo Romo and SACSCOC president Belle Wheelan. One wonders if their quotes were also taken out of context and their words twisted to further Leslie’s agenda. It would be interesting to hear exactly what Wheelan and Romo have to say about this.

Leslie’s mansplaining reaches new heights

Those of us fortunate enough to receive Chancellor Bruce Leslie’s email missives quickly recognize his windup before an epic bout of mansplaining:

From time to time, I attempt to clarify and inform you about strategies, projects and issues of importance to The Alamo Colleges Family…

He’s been a busy man this past week, sharing both a brief explanation of and a Covey-ized Leadership Model for Alamo Colleges, defending his philosophy on MyMap, sharing his own personal stories related to his love for Ethnic Studies , and whatever he’s jabbering about in his most recent video address. (Seriously, can someone else watch this for us and give us a recap? Thanks.)

The real kicker is from The Ranger article covering the Student District Council meeting:

“I will agree with you that we have not had a system that works,” Leslie said. “We need to fix the system and students need to be a part of it.”

Leslie said he is open to suggestions from Super Senate, Faculty Senate leaders at the five colleges.

Maybe, Bruce, just maybe you could be “open to suggestions” and include all stakeholders BEFORE you make your next series of bad decisions with little or no communication with your – as you call us – colleagues. Then you wouldn’t have to work so hard “clarifying” and “informing.”

A great first step in remaking yourself as The Leader Who Listens would’ve been bothering to show up at last week’s Special Board Meeting. But hey…there is a video. Take some time to watch it, won’t you? And be sure to let Faculty Senate leaders know if you have any questions.

Express-News article on Special Board Meeting

Dialogue with faculty reveals split in Alamo Colleges board

By Alia Malik, Staff Writer
April 17, 2015
Updated: April 17, 2015 6:41pm

More than 100 faculty members representing all five Alamo Colleges filled a lecture room Thursday at San Antonio College and calmly aired their grievances to three members of the student success committee of the college district’s board.

More than 100 faculty members representing all five Alamo Colleges filled a lecture room Thursday at San Antonio College and calmly aired their grievances to three members of the student success committee of the college district’s board.

Since the whole board is invited to and frequently attends committee meetings, the rest of the board was conspicuous by its absence.

But when the full board met two days earlier, some of them had blasted trustee Joe Alderete Jr. for arranging Thursday’s gathering — the first public sign that ongoing tensions between faculty and the district administration have begun to divide the board.

Some trustees said such a direct dialogue with faculty over their concerns would undercut the administration of Chancellor Bruce Leslie.

Alderete, who chairs the committee, said afterward the exchange had been “extremely healthy.”

“It should occur in some form or fashion on a monthly basis,” he said.

Faculty dissatisfaction has built over the past two years as the district introduced a series of controversial initiatives — a required leadership course, partially based on Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to displace a humanities course in the core curriculum; a proposal to include electronic textbook fees in tuition payments and degree changes that would no longer list majors on many students’ diplomas and transcripts so as to streamline their ability to transfer to four-year colleges.

“Keep talking to us,” Dawn Elmore, chairwoman of the Faculty Super Senate, told the committee. “Keep listening to us. That’s what we need, because if we can’t do this together, we’re never going to be able to do it right.”

The Super Senate, so called because it has faculty from all five colleges, surveyed 238 faculty members from four of the colleges and found about 60 percent said morale was low or very low and 84 percent said district administration does not communicate well with faculty.

Speakers on Thursday also asked trustees for a transfer policy based on course-embedded assessments; degree plans that keep majors or concentrations on diplomas; a permanent spot for faculty concerns on the agenda of every regular board meeting and metrics that evaluate the district’s communication with faculty and effectiveness of initiatives, among other things.

“The board members who are not here are speaking in volumes about what they think about faculty input,” said Gerald Busald, a San Antonio College math professor. “They’re speaking with their feet and with their absence.”

Alderete, trustee Clint Kingsbery and student trustee Jacob Wong attended the meeting. Alderete said board Chairwoman Anna Uriegas Bustamante supported the meeting and helped organize it, but was unable to attend.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustee Yvonne Katz called the upcoming committee meeting “an aberrant action.”

“We hire a chancellor to create internal policies for internal communication channels, and we do have policies on that, so I don’t want us violating our own policies,” Katz said.

The board should stay “above the fray,” trustee Roberto Zarate agreed.

“If we are going to start undercutting the (five college) presidents and the chancellor, everything coming directly to us, that’s a slippery slope to take,” Zarate said.

Some of the other trustees were concerned the meeting would devolve into “three hours of people screaming and yelling and complaining at us,” Kingsbery said. At the end, he and Alderete praised faculty for their professional conduct and said critics of the gathering “might see it in a new light.”

Twitter: @AliaAtSAEN