The ends justify the means. – Niccolo Machiavelli
To lead people walk behind them. – Lao Tzu
Shared governance at the Alamo Colleges has drastically eroded in the last few years. Committee recommendations are regularly ignored, decisions affecting the college community are often top-down, and grievances and concerns from faculty, staff, and students are not taken seriously. The Chancellor has final say into what appears on Board meeting agendas and disallows any notes to be taken in meetings with faculty leaders. These procedures have hindered faculty ability to share information with their colleagues and to address the Board directly on matters which affect students. Sometimes the only recourse for faculty is to sign up for Citizens to be Heard at the once-a-month Board meetings. A lone citizen can speak for up to 3 minutes while someone representing a group can speak for up to 5 minutes on a specific topic.
Faculty at the Alamo Colleges no longer have elected representation in their own departments. Procedure D.2.3.2 was approved by the Chancellor which allows for open chair positions to be posted and candidates from any college may apply. At the discretion of of the College President, external candidates may also apply. A selection is then made by the President and the chair serves at the President’s discretion with the President reviewing the continuation of that chair after 3 years.
Shared governance in a college system is about open communication and providing opportunities for stakeholders to have input into decision making. Shared governance does not exist simply because a committee was formed or the Chancellor appeared at a Town Hall meeting to answer questions. The Board of Trustees, Chancellor, college Presidents, Faculty, Staff, and students are all crucial members of the higher education ecosystem. What is the role of each member? How should they communicate and share ideas with one another? In the past, Board members spoke more freely with faculty directly and even sought them out for front line information about the colleges and students. Now the Board is mostly informed by only whatever the Chancellor allows in on the meeting agendas or through his reports. In discussions with the SAC AAUP, one Board member expressed a feeling of being “pushed” into decisions instead of being allowed to participate in the process. Multiple Board members report that they frequently lack complete information and the time necessary to ask questions and get feedback from affected parties before a vote takes place regarding policies. Current Board chair James Rindfuss even went so far as to characterize our efforts towards shared governance thusly: “(Faculty) want to tell the chancellor how to do his job and tell the board how to do their job. That’s not what they are paid for. (“Faculty votes no confidence in Chancellor.” San Antonio Express-News, September 15, 2009)
We support the selection and election of department chairs by their colleagues. The revisions to procedure D.2.3.2 turns the process around. No election takes place. The Presidents select and inform faculty who their representative will be.