“Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do!”

A stirring quote from our old friend Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business. Here’s more from the TCCTA Blog:


“Don’t Give Them Choices”

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:57 PM PDT

The Texas Association of Business recently hosted an event to highlight the Coordinating Board’s sixty-thirty Texas plan—to have sixty percent of young adults with post secondary degrees or certificates, by 2030. Right now, it’s under 40 percent. The event was covered by KXAN TV in Austin.

You can access the entire plan here. Here’s a recent piece on the subject by Enrique Rangel, published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Bill Hammond, who heads the TAB, gave up some choice quotes on one component of the effort to get more students through the educational pipeline:

CEO Bill Hammond says the key is getting students to leave college with marketable skills that will get them jobs.

“They don’t wind up taking the courses they need as freshman and then they get to their senior year and they can’t get into them. Structure. Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do,” said Hammond.

You may remember Mr. Hammond as the chief person responsible for posting billboards a few years ago, criticizing low graduation rates at local community colleges. He is an important figure at the Capitol.

No one wants college students to rattle around on campus directionless for years, and there are few human specimens more confused than the typical 18-year old college freshman. However, as we know, the core curriculum limits choices already, in the sense that certain courses are required, and some get left out, due most recently to mandated caps on classes that do not fall within stipulated fields of study.

The college experience traditionally involves experimentation and exploration. How many of us decided as teenagers that we wanted to teach at a community college? If you ask around, it is rare to find individuals who knew their chosen path at a tender age. Besides, education should prepare you for many paths.

Ironically, the present push for more conformity runs counter to another prevalent trend in higher education—inserting market forces and consumerism into the culture. Free markets purportedly offer customers more options, not the other way around.

Such policies, of necessity, involve balance and compromise. But we may be leaning too far in one direction, marching efficiently to the cookie cutter.

Leslie lowers the boom: elimination of majors as a District policy

We haven’t posted anything since the summer and we apologize for that. What we have been doing is talking to a lot of people and gathering a ton of information. We’ll be posting about various issues over the next week or so but the most pressing item is the elimination of majors at ALL the Alamo Colleges. This time around Chancellor Bruce Leslie is asking the Board of Trustees to vote on the elimination of majors as a District policy at the next regular Board meeting. And once it is District policy? The option to offer majors at each independently accredited college is gone.

Here’s more from our colleagues at PAC AAUP:

The price of not listening to students and faculty when crafting Board policy can have significant adverse effects on students. The policy proposal to remove Majors serves as a clear example. Some students and faculty had already brought this to my attention but it was made supremely clear when I was provided with a link to the many scholarships and funds available specifically to students who are enrolled in discipline-specific degrees (that is, Majors).

Many scholarships awarded to freshman and sophomore students are specific to Majors.  In other words, they need to have declared a MAJOR in order to apply and, in most cases, need to be enrolled in a bonafide discipline-specific degree program.  Millions of dollars are dispersed to economically disadvantaged students on the basis of 1) need and 2) declared major.

Yet, the wisdom of the Alamo Colleges District is to REMOVE majors.  And now they are recommending to the Alamo Colleges Board of Directors that ALL colleges (PAC, SAC, NVC, SPC, NLC) MUST abide by a proposed policy to remove majors across the District.   Why?  Allegedly, because it will make it easier to transfer students and increase completion rates.  Yet, not a shred of evidence has been provided to prove that this will happen.  Faculty across the district have serious doubts.

In fact, it may even have damaging effects on students efforts to 1) obtain scholarship funds and 2) have a competitive degree when seeking employment.  Yet Bruce Leslie has said to the Board of Directors:

If you complete only your AA and AS degree [and not pursue a BS/BA degree]  “you don’t have a lot to offer an employer.”  (statement made at Sept 8 Subcommittee meeting of the Board of Directors) 

There is not a shred of evidence across all the community college research institutes across the country to support this.   How is this good for our students?

Thanks a lot Dr. Leslie!  First, it’s not true.  Second, you just invalidated 2 years of hard-earned college credit by our students.  With that logic, why even have community colleges?

Have they done their due diligence to figure out how many students (and how much money) will be deprived of scholarships funds if they remove majors?  Do they have hard data to prove that students will not be affected?  I have not seen any data (they usually brush it off with a simple sentence, “Oh, we checked and it won’t affect them.”  But no one gets to see the information they claim to have reviewed. )

My concern:

If majors are permanently removed from Palo Alto College, will students be kept from qualifying from scholarship money?

If they are, are we going to face a class action lawsuit from students (especially minority students) who feel could not apply for a scholarship because they could not declare a major?

The cost of not listening to students, faculty and the community could be staggering.  We’re already paying $58 million dollars for the Crystal Palace (new District administration building) without public input and have spent MILLIONS of dollars on Covey’s 7 Habits training that is required for ALL faculty and staff to complete.  Covey’s 7 Habits was sole sourced and not reviewed by faculty–and most faculty are saying that it was a waste of their time and contributes minimally to their teaching effectiveness.

Feel free to browse through the websites below.  They take you to the many scholarships available nationwide specifically for students who have declared a MAJOR.

Folks,  I can only do so much in advocating for our students.  The Faculty Senate at PAC has unanimously asserted that removing majors would be a big mistake.

A community college is about the community.  We need the community to help students reclaim what they deserve:  pride and ownership of their college.  Which means, having the option to declare a major that is important to them.  But they cannot win this without your help.  PAC AAUP supports the students.    They need ALL of our help!

I’d like to thank the readers (faculty, students and community groups) who provide me with this valuable information.  I disseminate this information in hopes that you do something with this information.  Without you, the readers, I wouldn’t have much to write about.  So keep sending me your thoughts/ideas/information.

Tony Villanueva

PAC AAUP President

Scholarships By Major


Scholarships By Major


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.

Powerpoint: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=37316331
Packet: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=37316347


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.