Month: April 2015

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.”

amalik@express-news.net

Twitter: @AliaAtSAEN

Chancellor Bruce Leslie and His Gang of Five skip out on Special Board Meeting

Chancellor Bruce “Participatory Leadership” Leslie was a no-show at Thursday’s Special Board Meeting where all five Faculty Senates were invited to discuss the following critical issues with the Student Success committee:

1) Assessment
2) Majors/Transfers/Completion
3) Shared Governance
4) Administrative Accountability
5) Faculty Morale
6) The Faculty Member’s Role

Also conspicuously absent were Trustees Katz, Sprague, Rindfuss, McClendon, and Zarate. (Read and listen to their brash words about this event from the Tuesday Board Meeting, including Zarate’s indignant threat to not attend.) Chair Anna Bustamante had a scheduling conflict so she was not able to attend, although she did work hard to make the necessary arrangements for this Special Board Meeting.

Here’s the Express-News take on the meeting: Dialogue with faculty reveals split on Alamo Colleges Board

And here’s the linkup to the video.

Don’t see much there that would send them running to the hills! I think SAC math professor Gerald Busald stated it best in the Express-News article:

“The board members who are not here are speaking in volumes about what they think about faculty input. They’re speaking with their feet and with their absence.”

Bruce Leslie

What is Bruce afraid of?

AC Board of Trustees

What are they afraid of?

Welcome, American Association of Community Colleges

¡Buenos días a todos!

Wick Sloane has penned a firebrand of a welcome for the AACC over at Inside Higher Ed. Please read Sloane’s article about the rising threat our students face: food insecurity. Article commenter Virgil perfectly sums up the Alamo Community College District’s own cautionary tale of disconnect between community college “leaders” and the community they are supposed to serve:

The convention is being held in one of the most income and housing segregated cities among large municipalities. The local community college leadership (Alamo Colleges) can be introduced as artifact 1 to show evidence of the increasing disconnect between the harsh realities of students and the oblivious attitude of local board of trustees and administrators. Simply do a search on Alamo Colleges or visit the local AAUP website (sacaaup.org) and you will find that students have asked for the chancellor to resign (he happens to be the highest paid chancellor in the state and one of the highest in the country at one of the highest poverty cities in the country – $450K if you include bonus pay), faculty morale is very low, administrative bloat has been an ongoing concern for years, faculty and students have been excluded from bringing solutions to the table (a vote of no confidence did little to stop administrative bloat and questionable decision-making), students have fought to reverse district decisions numerous times only to be met with utter disregard by the chancellor and the board of directors, and that several board meetings in the last few months have been filled with student and community protests complaining of the horrific disconnect between the Board/administrators and the students/faculty. The Devil’s Workshop is a fitting title because colleges from across the country can see first hand how local community college leadership (San Antonio as the backdrop) can live with itself as they revel in meaningless “data” and continue to add administrators that contribute nothing to the classroom, all the while students and faculty scream for a chance to offer real solutions to real concerns…to no avail. AACC convention attendees, here is an assignment for you: Do a search on the Alamo Colleges and look for relevant articles. Then have a roundtable discussion how a board and its administrators could allow themselves to become so distanced from the community it serves. Use the questions in this article as a starting point of your discussion. And instead of attending Fiesta events, drive to the poverty stricken areas around San Antonio – it’s not hard, just travel east, west or south. Finally, select a scribe and another person to report out. Better yet, take your report back home to your constituents and tell them what you have learned while enjoying your time in San Antonio during Fiesta week…with their money.

Trustees Not Happy with Special Board Meeting

From PAC AAUP President, Tony Villanueva:

PAC AAUP and Friends of PAC AAUP:

Unhappy with Subcommittee Chair’s proactive effort to allow faculty to share concerns with Board members is met with criticism and allegations of impropriety.  After calling a meeting between faculty and the Student Success Committee (to be held this Thursday evening at SAC), the majority Board of the Alamo Colleges threatened to reign in efforts to promote what most would consider a BEST PRACTICE.

Watch the video of the Board meeting starting at 3:11:00 – http://acms.alamo.edu/Mediasite/Play/ff2aef43d0ab4917b480f4f98cce7a941d.

Folks, THIS IS ALARMING!

Trustee Alderete spearheaded an effort to allow faculty to voice their collective concerns at a special committee meeting this Thursday at San Antonio College.  The meeting was called in accordance with Board policies and all Board members were invited.

The meeting serves as an opportunity to allow faculty to have more time to flesh out concerns that have plagued the community college district.  It’s a reasonable action in light of the numerous protests, reversal of poor decisions by District leadership, questionable spending, and so on.  Such an effort to build trust when trust has eroded is commendable and should be encouraged.

NOT SO, according to the majority Board members.

The majority Board members are not in favor of having this meeting.  It is clear that the chair of any subcommittee has the authority to set the agenda and invite speakers as deemed necessary.  This is the prerogative of the committee chair.

YET, majority Board members pummeled Trustee Alderete with numerous unfair accusations.  One would think that instead he would receive praise for promoting much needed dialogue between Board and faculty.

Comments by Trustees along with my commentaries:

Trustee Katz:  “we are deviating from Board tradition”  – suggesting that Thursday’s meeting is not customary.  Maybe we should begin questioning board traditions.  Maybe the Board needs to make ongoing communication with faculty a board tradition.

Trustee Katz:  regarding the call for Thursday’s meeting – “aberrant action”  I’d rather call it a BEST PRACTICE, as most reports on how to run a board would suggest.

Trustee Katz:  she states that “as former director of school accreditation for the state of texas…[I am] concerned for accreditation violations”  Wow!  The Board attorney was present and made it clear to the entire board that there were no violations in holding this meeting.

Trustee Zarate –  he said that “best practices for Boards suggest that this should not occur”  Not sure what he is referring to, but reports pertaining to “best practices” mention that faculty inclusion and ongoing communication with faculty IS a best practice.  Trustee Zarate, if you want to discuss best practices, you may want to review “Best Practices:  Faculty Communication with Governing Boards” published by the American Association of University Professors.  Their recommendation is listed below (scroll down).  It states:  “Direct communication between the faculty and the governing board should occur through a liaison or conference committee consisting only of faculty members and trustees and meeting regularly to discuss topics of mutual interest.”

Trustee Zarate – he compared the actions of Trustee Alderete to that of UT’s Board of Regents Wallace Hall and Joe Kilgore.  Not even close!  Thursday’s meeting is to allow open discussion between faculty and board members – a BEST practice.  Imposing Covey’s 7 Habits on ALL faculty, staff and students is closer to Wallace Hall’s actions.  This was decided under Trustee Zarate’s chairmanship of the Budget subcommittee.  Not including faculty in this decision WAS NOT a best practice.

Trustee Zarate – regarding Trustee Alderete:  “one trustee on the board decided not to be part of the team” – Gees, talk about peer pressure.  Forget representing your constituents, you must FIRST be part of the team.  This is a clear sign of groupthink, where board cohesion is more important than your role as a representative of your district.   Truly alarming!!

Trustee Zarate – He stated:  “I don’t think I will attend the meeting on Thursday” –   Why not?  Faculty ARE constituents, taxpayers, stakeholders, employees, parents, educators, concerned citizens, professionals.  What part of BEST PRACTICE does he not understand.

Trustee Rindfuss – “A subcommittee is not a proactive committee; it is only to vet what comes before the board.”  I’m not sure what this means exactly.  My only comment is that if a subcommittee is not proactive – in obtaining information, then what is the purpose of a subcommittee?  Board committees MUST be proactive in obtaining information to govern the District effectively.

Trustee Sprague – Says he has “concerns of micromanagement” [in reference to Trustee Alderete’s call for a faculty-Board meeting]; Soliciting input from faculty and listening to  faculty concerns is somehow considered micromanagement.   How is “listening to concerns” micromanagement?

Trustee Sprague – He is afraid that employees will cry, “if we don’t like what the chancellor does, well let’s go talk to the board and see if we can get the chancellor’s policies changed.”  Was this a Freudian slip?   I thought the Board members set policies.  He called them “the chancellor’s policies.”  Did he just clue us in to something we don’t know…but have suspected for a long time?

Trustee McClendon – “I’ve asked the Chancellor to explore suggested adjustments to policy.”  Is Trustee McClendon asking the Chancellor to look for policies that would stifle faculty input and limit board communication with faculty?  This would NOT be a best practice.

Folks, this was one of the most alarming meetings I have seen.  It was an absolute ambush on Trustee Alderete (this is the second time it happens; the first one yielded a transparency award, so maybe something good will come out of last night’s ambush).

I’ve never seen such an aggressive attempt to squelch faculty input.  This should be alarming to ALL educators.  Is it time to call on all educator groups and associations to pay close attention to Board actions in their attempt to silence the voice of educators.  Should we be calling on the American Federation of Teachers, The National Education Association, National AAUP, and any other organization that fights to preserve the voice of employees vis a vis Board members and administrators?

Again, this was an amazingly clear attempt to diminish the voice of faculty.  As President of the Palo Alto College of the American Association of University Professors, and on behalf of educators across the city, I’m astonished at the Board majority’s behavior at what most would consider a significant step toward building trust at the Alamo Colleges.

A simple search on best practices among Boards yielded this interesting gem:  “Board members…value the independent viewpoint they develop when not all their information is filtered through the executive director. And when staff-board contact is prohibited, the board is often the last to know about serious problems such as financial troubles, lawsuits, and repetitional issues.” http://www.blueavocado.org/content/should-staff-contact-board-be-restricted

One simple questions to Trustee Zarate:  Why have you elected NOT TO ATTEND Thursday’s meeting? (“I was not consulted therefore I don’t think I will attend.”)  It’s clear that everyone was given notice.  I wonder whether a premeditated decline to attend a formally announced Board meeting, without cause, is a breach of fiduciary responsibility of an elected Board member (Duty of Care).

Recommendations by the AAUP on Faculty Communication with Governing Boards:

 
“effective faculty-board communication is a critical component of shared governance. Its absence can result in serious misunderstanding between campus constituents and in significant governance failures leading to flawed decision making. The present statement has thus recommended the following:
  1. Every standing committee of the governing board, including the executive committee, should include a faculty representative.
  2. New faculty representatives to the governing board should participate in orientation for new trustees.
  3. Direct communication between the faculty and the governing board should occur through a liaison or conference committee consisting only of faculty members and trustees and meeting regularly to discuss topics of mutual interest.”

Thursday, April 16: Faculty Senates Present Concerns at Special Board Meeting

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday!!! At San Antonio College, Nursing & Allied Health Complex (NAHC) 218 A&B!!!
All five Faculty Senates have been invited to present and discuss the following concerns with the Board of Trustees:
1) Assessment
2) Majors/Transfers/Completion
3) Shared Governance
4) Administrative Accountability
5) Faculty Morale
6) The Faculty Member’s Role
Over 100 faculty members have already RSVP’d for this unprecedented event so if you plan on going, get there early to grab a seat. There will also be overflow seating and viewing in NAHC 213.
You can find the agenda here:
 
 
Board meeting videos can be found here:
 
 
There will be a special link during the live session. After the meeting concludes, the recorded version will be available on this page as well.