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.

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

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?

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 –


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.”

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.