6th speech to BOT 22 July 2014
I want to thank Dr. Bellanca and Damon Flowers for the clear communication they have both provided with me, and with the faculty affected, about the ongoing problems on the first floor of the LA building with black mold. I appreciate being in the loop about what is going with that, and suspect that the faculty and administrators working in the affected areas do as well.
I also want to thank Gloria Eccelston and Jared Slayton for the ongoing work they have done to support faculty working with Distance Learning. The last several years have been challenging in many ways, and yet we are able to rely on a stellar degree of Blackboard support, and a very high degree of quality in the distance learning courses being developed by faculty here at WCC. That high level of quality is what makes our Distance Learning courses shine in a time where many other institutions offer competing classes that don’t have comparable rigor excellence. Thanks also to outgoing Dean of Distance Learning, Jim Egan, and the entire Distance Learning staff. I learned in the last week that Mike Galea has agreed to serve for the fall semester as an advisor of sorts to our Distance Learning team. While I greatly appreciate his commitment to maintaining faculty control of the curriculum, it is unclear to me what his role will be exactly. I would like to point out that there have been no discussions with the DL-Bb committee about the recent ‘free” Distance Learning Audit by Ellucian, nor have I or most of the other members of that committee seen the Audit report that decisions are being based upon. It is my understanding that the report was shared with Mike though.
I wanted to comment to you publicly on one of the FOIA requests we’ve been pursing. If you remember back to the end of Winter 2014 semester, Faculty took a no confidence vote in Dr. Bellanca’s leadership on May 1sth. Your board released a public statement within the following half hour. It seemed apparent to faculty that your board had prepared for such an outcome in advance. Given that, we made an initial FOIA request, on May 7th, asking to see the prior month’s email exchanges between the President and her Leadership team, and yourselves. The initial cost of the labor involved was estimated by General Counsel Barkoff at $10,288.28, when he replied on May 29th.. The reason given for the high cost was the labor involved in searching through approximately2,410 emails. We narrowed our focus to the week prior to the Vote of No Confidence on June 24th. On July 16th, General Counsel Barkoff notified us that the estimate for complying with this request was $6,013, due to the labor in searching through approximately 1349 emails. That is a cost of $4.46 per email, or put another way, 200 hours of labor at $30 per hour – 5 weeks of full time work. It is clear that the college does not want to release that information to us. So be it.
While I know that at your last public meeting, Trustee Horizny and VP Johnson were both pleased with the new budgetary process, from what I have heard from department chairs, the assurances made by both President Bellanca and VP Johnson that budgets were not being cut were not borne out by the budgets chairs were delivered. Budgets, despite the promises of public meetings in May and June, have been cut throughout the college. Among the cuts I’ve learned of: Foreign Languages (45%), Learning Support Services (20% ), Digital Media Arts (28%?), Biology (roughly 25%). Several departments did report no cuts: Social Sciences, Public Service Careers and Radiography. However, no department chair who responded to my email asking them for feedback about their budget process found the process collaborative. Many areas of the college are being asked to do more with less financial support, despite the hiring of a new associate VP. Unsurprisingly, no faculty were involved in the hiring of the additional VP.
I’ve been assured by Dr. Bellanca that she wants the budgetary process in place here at WCC to be collaborative. I know of several department chairs who are concerned about their budget cuts being told by their deans to bring forward their concerns as they arise. I hope you can appreciate that it may be difficulty for faculty at WCC right now to trust that concerns that they raise about not being able to afford appropriate equipment, lab instruction, supplies, substitute instruction, etc. will be redressed once raised. Trust once lost is very difficult to regain.