18th BOT Speech 21 September 2015
Welcome back to campus! Faculty have been working with students for a month and so the work of reading homework, grading essays and tests, reminding students of due dates, and dealing with challenges as they arise is underway. As a result of the recently negotiated contract, my members had to re-authorize the deduction of their union dues by the college. I’m proud to announce that of the 174 fulltime faculty, 170 have chosen to remain in the WCCEA. We are currently collecting signatures from our Adjunct faculty members, many of whom teach at more than one institution, and thus are a little harder to reach. When I have those numbers, I will share them if you are interested.
After a 17th month hiatus, Dr. Bellanca, VPI Nealon, David Fitzpatrick and I met for Liaison last Monday and had a civil and productive conversation. I am hopeful that as we move forward, faculty voices will again be included in conversations about what future we wish to create for our community and for the students. I am tentatively optimistic.
That said though, I remain concerned about our culture as a community, about the way we communicate with and about one another. Janet Hawkins, who worked at the college for more than 40 years, announced her own retirement on August 11th. As someone who has worked with her many times, I awaited news of a party, or a public recognition of her contributions to the college over so many years, and hoped I would be able to add my voice to those giving her well-earned praise for her many, many years of service. To the best of my knowledge, the one line in her email to those of us participating in the upcoming Free College Day event was the only public mention of her leaving. I don’t understand that. I don’t know why we don’t honor years of service, or have retirement parties, or make any civilized gestures of appreciation to people on their way out the door.
While Bryan Freeman was not here all that long, he had gained many friends and supporters among the faculty, and as far as I know, there has been no public explanation for his departure. I only learned of it myself when I didn’t get a reply from him, which was unusual, and happened to mention that around someone who did know that he had left the college. I understand that we may no longer be a place where people spend their entire career, and I do realize that the world and our school must change and that nothing stays fixed. I would suggest, though, that we slow down enough to acknowledge the contributions made to our community. Communication about people leaving, with at least some kind of recognition, is more likely to create a climate of trust and security, and I think we all ultimately want that.