Julie Kissel’s Open Letter to the Board of Trustees

This letter to the Board of Trustees was sent on April 23, 2014.
Dear Board of Trustees,
Over a year ago, faculty, in an emotional plea, hoped that you, the Board of Trustees, would help us work through serious communication issues with the President. At that time, I was struck by the blank stares and wondered if you were really listening or if you really cared about the health of the institution and its employees. A year later, we are still asking for help, and those blank stares still exist. As WCCEA President, Maryam Barrie, so eloquently asked during the April 22 Board of Trustees’ meeting, we hope that you are listening and aware of a deepening divide. If you are not fully aware, I will give you two personal examples to help you understand.
1.       As a co-chair for the Strategic Plan Priority 2A, I have not received nor been a part of any decision or discussion since April 2013 when I presented at the BOT meeting. Meetings were scheduled since then, but they were scheduled at the last minute or during times that I was teaching. I did ask for feedback from the meetings multiple times, but I never received any information. In fact, the only real thank you was noted in On the Record from April 7, 2014, but please understand that I have done nothing with this priority in a year.
2.       In 2010, WCC joined forces with the Achieving the Dream initiative to work on improving student success, especially for those students who are in most need of support. With the support of the administration, a group of us led by Dean Taylor, started a number of initiatives to directly support students. My initiative was the Supplemental Instruction Assistant program that places trained Writing Center tutors in writing courses to offer direct support. From August 2011 to April 2013, the English department received funding to develop this program and have found that student success and persistent rates increased. Sadly, this program was not funded during Fall 2013. It was only after being denied support through the strategic plan request for funding that VP Abernethy helped secure meager funding for Winter 2014. However, the department continues to fight to secure funding for next school year. This is maddening since we are requesting $10,000 that can’t be found in the budget, yet the administration can find the funds to support consultants and another vice president of something.
When faculty come to the Board with examples of our great work, we are applauded. Now that we are seeking your help, we are ignored. We understand that your choices are neither comfortable nor convenient, but neither are our choices. If you continue to bury your heads in the sand and hope that it will get better, it is time for you to leave the Board. We need action, not blank stares. Now is the time to be bold. Now is the time to be brave.
Julie Kissel
English Department
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