SAEN article: Students to call for resignation of Alamo Colleges chancellor

If you haven’t read it yet, please do: Students to call for resignation of Alamo Colleges chancellor

And then go to the Board meeting tomorrow night.

Here are a few choice quotes from Chancellor Bruce Leslie:

Leslie said the constant fighting has sapped productivity but was part of the nature of a higher education institution that promotes free expression.

“Yeah, I get criticized, and yes, it comes with the job, and yeah, I take that seriously, and yeah, I take it personally,” he said. “It’s hard to sit up there and hear people saying the things that they do.”

and

Leslie conceded that faculty morale was suffering, but said those with a more positive outlook “are being shut out.”

“A lot of that’s being driven by certain people themselves and not the administration,” Leslie said. “There’s a lot of allegations, innuendo, and a whole lot of bad facts, bad use of data. I keep trying to remind people we’re doing amazing things here.”

Not exactly the words of a leader.

Trustee chided for tough questions

From our colleagues in PAC AAUP:
Kudos to Joe Adelrete for asking tough questions about the lack of budget transparency at Tuesday’s committee meeting.  Although the budget has won an award for transparency, this means very little when considering that we actively sought this award among a small pool of applicants.  President Obama won a Nobel Peace prize while surging tens of thousand of troops to Afghanistan and spreading the war intoPakistan.  Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In Dr. Leslie’s response to the recent NVC Faculty Senate/AAUP letter posing questions about the budget, he claimed:
“Attached, for your review, is NVC’s IPEDS information which drive the chart you presented and subsequent queries. What we have found is that the student FTE IPEDS data for 2008 through 2011 was erroneous (see highlighted section). In these years, the FTE figures combined both student credit hours earned and contact hours earned. Only student credit hours should have been used in this calculation.”
It is interesting that neither NVC’s own President at the time, Dr. Jackie Claunch, nor her own chief budget officer, Virginia Leggett, could provide the above explanation regarding the false reporting to the official federal IPEDS reporting system.  Perhaps all of the District “chargebacks” pulled the wool over her ability to understand her own budget.
This false reporting also raises concerns about possible fraud if these artificially inflated numbers were used in conjunction with tuition re-imbursements from the state.  Was the THECB informed of this false reporting?  Was the federal IPEDS system ever informed of the inaccuracies?  Why do the false numbers persist in the IPEDS database to date without correction?  What are the implications as a federal grant-receiving institution for reporting false data to the government?
Oh, and by the way, similar IPEDS budget anomalies can be found for St. Philip’s and Palo Alto Collegeduring this same time period.
Things are getting more interesting by the minute…
But hey, don’t just take our word for it, see what the Baldridge examiners had to say about NVC’s lack of control over, you guessed it, “hiring,” as well as the “volatility of the college’s operating environment” (read between the lines—budget control).
Directly from NVC’s Baldridge report:
“The most significant opportunities, concerns, or vulnerabilities identified in NVC’s response to process items are as follows:…For example, while the district establishes its HR plan for compensation, job description, and staffing ratios, many of these processes are put in place without full transparency to the college…”
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—2012 Feedback Report
 
AND
“2.2 Strategy Implementation OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT  a(3) There is not a consistent approach to understanding and addressing the volatility of the college’s operating environment. For example, NVC did not describe its budget management processes that accommodate unanticipated midcycle changes to previously approved budgets. A systematic approach to budgeting within a volatile environment characterized by funding constraints may support the college’s ability to execute its current plans and allow for agility in response to changing needs.”
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—2012 Feedback Report
 
One understands that the “volatility” here has to do with the District micromanaging the colleges’ budgets, even during mid-cycle.
Oh, and don’t forget—Northeast Lakeview College.  Didn’t they fail to receive accreditation because of the lack of clear lines between the District and college budgets?
To see Trustee Adelrete’s brave stand, start at 39 minutes into the video link below:
YOU GO JOE!
We’ll cover your back next Tuesday!

Herrera resigns leaving Board seat vacant

We just received word that Albert Herrera from District 4 has resigned from the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees.

What happens now? One of two things according to Board policy:

Vacancies

Education Code 130.082(d) provides that any vacancy occurring on the Board through death, resignation, or otherwise, shall be filled by one of the following methods:

1. A special election ordered by the Board. A special election to fill a Board vacancy is conducted as provided by the applicable provisions of the Election Code. A vacancy filled by special election shall be for the remainder of the term for the trustee district.

2. Appointment by order of the Board. A person appointed to fill the unexpired term shall serve until the next regular election of members to the Board, at which time the position shall be filled by election for the remainder of the term. Any person appointed to fill a vacancy in a trustee district must be a resident of that trustee district.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be elected or appointed to a public elective office the candidate must meet the requirements established by the Texas Election Code §141.001.

The Board is generally locked into a series of 5-4 votes in favor of Chancellor Bruce Leslie’s numerous initiatives, so while this is not a “swing vote” seat, it is of vital importance that the person who fills the seat is able to fully represent the needs and concerns of students and community members in District 4.

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.

 

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.