Dear WCCEA members,
I am pleased to announce that the WCCEA Board of Trustee Endorsement Committee has chosen three candidates to endorse for the 2014 general election. This year our committee included WCCEA members, MEA-OPT members, an AFCSME 1921 member(our WCC grounds and maintenance group) as well as a representative from HVCLC, the Huron Valley Central Labor Council.
The three candidates where chosen based on their responses to several interview questions that in our belief, provided a measure of the necessary leadership qualities that will play a key supportive role in the decision making process involving the future of Washtenaw Community College. Each candidate has expressed that they fully support our commitment to provide educational excellence to our community.
The candidates are listed in the order of votes received:
Ruth Hatcher’s institutional knowledge of the college is unparalleled. During her long tenure at WCC she held several positions, including Full-time Professional Faculty and Department Chair of the English department, Interim Dean of Humanities, Interim Vice President of Instruction, and President of the faculty union, the WCCEA. Ruth dedicated over 30 years of service to college with an unwavering commitment to student success. She also spear-headed several collaborative initiatives and promoted mutual respect among all constituencies within of the college community, never losing site of the college’s core mission. Given Ruth’s expansive knowledge of our college’s history and its inner workings, she possesses the institutional knowledge necessary to recognize the issues most important to faculty, as well as those of the administration, and the wisdom to provide guidance and insight during these tumultuous times. In her recent retirement, Ruth has continued to be a strong supporter of faculty and has helped provide guidance and insight as we’ve faced several difficult decisions in recent years under President Bellanca’s leadership. Ruth has regularly attended the Board of Trustee’s meetings and has a keen awareness of the state of crisis the college now faces. Her approach as a board member would focus on transparency and student success, as well as budgeting priorities and the importance of maintaining a quality education. Ruth does not feel that the college can simply be managed under a business model and fiercely promotes improved communication and collaboration between the faculty, the board, the president, and the administration.
David DeVarti is a former Ann Arbor City Council member and served on the city planning commission and Downtown Development Authority. He has also taken classes at WCC. DeVarti describes himself as a progressive political activist and finds the current Board of Trustees responsible for the current state of affairs at the college. He is a very strong advocate for collaborative communication between the administration, the BOT, and the faculty and believes that those most affected by a decision or new initiative be involved and included from the outset. According to Devarti, his commitment is to the students, staff, faculty, taxpayers, and community leaders. He is in strong support of underprivileged students having accessible and affordable education, as well as more detailed metrics on how to define student success. As a Board of Trustee member, he would also work to craft a resolution to put an end to the current conflict within the college. He further states that it may be necessary to consider the termination of those individuals that are at the core of these unresolved issues that are compromising the health and integrity of our college. Mr. DeVarti also voiced a concern over the currently bloated upper administration and the costs associated with such an institutional model. He is very opposed to any initiative by the administration, the president, or the Board of Trustees that does not involve complete transparency to the stakeholders, including recent efforts of the board to bypass the Open Meetings Act.
Mark Freeman has served on the WCC Board of Trustees since 2009 and is currently the board secretary. He has taken several classes at WCC, worked successfully with the WCC Foundation, and continues to be a constant presence as a trustee on campus. During his interview, Mark expressed that the current board dynamics need to change and that he strongly supports the addition of more teachers to the BOT. He views faculty as the key to student success at the college and values how their efforts result in what he refers to as the final product, that is, educated, graduated students. When asked about outsourcing and consultants, he stated that he values the college’s internal resources and would prefer to capitalize on faculty and staff expertise whenever possible. Mr. Freeman is the only current member of the BOT who has shown any public concern for the issues that faculty have been raising and who had not publicly denigrated those concerns. He encouraged faculty to continue reaching out to board members and invited us to contact him personally. We are hopeful that he will continue to be a rational voice on the BOT in a new term.
Submitted by Justin Carter, WCCEA Delegate