Maryam’s 16th BOT Speech: 23 June 2015

16th BOT Speech 23 June 2015

Good evening.

I learned this morning of President Bellanca’s loss, and on behalf of the faculty I represent, wish her sincere condolences on this deep loss.

At this time of the year, many of my members are working less than they generally do during Fall and Winter semesters. Having time away from the classroom bustle to reflect a bit on the past year is very helpful. Teaching isn’t static – the best of us are continually trying out new ideas, and then need time to re-evaluate what worked and what needs to be fiddled with. Being honest with ourselves about how we can push beyond what is comfortable can lead to us better serving future students. For myself, taking time to question my assumptions, try out new ideas, and consider new tactics, is vital to refining and improving my teaching practice. I hear from my colleagues that this is true for many of them as well. I suspect it is true for most of us. Our contributions have more value when they are able to absorb and reflect new insights and new information.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to participate in several projects that involved collaboration with key administrators here. The search committee for the VPI search was productive and rich. The faculty members of this group, along with myself, were Kelley Gottschang, Allen Day and Robert Hatcher. The administrators included Doug Kruzel, Chris Mihaly, Kris Good, Brandon Tucker, Evan Montague and Michelle Mueller. The ten of us worked together very well, and I hope that there will be lasting benefits to the college from the work we did together.

As you probably know, progress has been made with the negotiations of the Full-time faculty contract which expires this August. Last month, I shared with you the surprise of my team that the Chief Negotiator you appointed had unzipped the entire contract, and then called in a state mediator. For me the lesson here is that it makes more sense for the people who work with one another solving problems throughout the school year to negotiate with one another. I was able to sit in on several sessions with this group, and can tell you that my faculty (David Fitzpatrick, Mike King, Justin Carter, Jason Withrow and Julie Kissel) have been working under some unusually challenging circumstances. I’ve been impressed with the efforts of our co-workers in the administration – Doug Kruzel, Linda Blakey, Kris Good, Brandon Tucker, and of course, Marla Stuck have also been hard at work faced with the same challenges. I remain convinced that we have very well meaning and hard working people in place here, and that working together to make a better working environment possible is within our grasp.

I know that the position for the part time advisor for the student paper has been posted, and would again urge you to echo my request to the administration that the current student writers and editors (notably Taylor Robinson, who I believe will be next year’s Editor for the Voice) have a place on the hiring committee for that position, and a meaningful role to play in the hiring process.

Finally, I know you will be discussing contractual bargaining with my members tonight during the closed session. Pending the outcome of your deliberations, I am ready, should you agree, to put the proposed contract to the WCCEA Board later this week, and do my best to hold a ratification vote early next week. I suspect all of us will be more relaxed to be on the other side of this negotiation.

Thank you.

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