Northeast Valley News

Students show support for faculty despite the February 2018 MCCCD board vote to end faculty Meet and Confer and RFP

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Fall classes begin soon at SCC

Fall classes begin soon at SCC

Jesse Tannous

Jesse Tannous

Fall classes begin soon at SCC

Jesse Tannous, Reporter

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OPINION

In the poem, “An Essay on Man,” by Alexander Pope, the line, “hope springs eternal” implies that it is simply “human nature” to continually search for optimism.

However, for many MCCCD faculty and some students as well, the 2017-18 academic year proved to be a daunting challenge and one that had the power to hinder even the most positive outlook.

As a new academic year begins and as elections loom large in vital races including school board representatives— it is only fitting to revisit some of the MCCCD issues of early 2018 that contributed to the tough road for faculty.

Spring 2018

There was obvious sadness on the face of one residential faculty member as she talked about the past academic year just days after saying goodbye and “good job” to a group of students as the 2018 spring semester came to an end.

“I really couldn’t tell them if I would be coming back to the program—I have a lot of things to think about,” said a longtime faculty member from one of the ten MCCCD campuses who asked to remain anonymous for fear of district retaliation.

“The morale among faculty is low and the word is out among many of our students as well—I guess they are confused and even angered by the district’s lack of faculty support.”

The word that was “out” appeared to be that the governing board and certain administrators did not care to support their own faculty—a conclusion that was solidified for many faculty and students after an abrupt and contentious board meeting that ended the longstanding Meet and Confer policy and RFP for all faculty in a February 27, board 4-3 vote.

Maricopa Community College student representatives also showed up to that meeting.

One student representative spoke passionately and pleaded with the board to refrain from ending Meet and Confer and provided over 500 signatures from other Maricopa students and stated that given time—they could have provided more.

Student concerns were publicly expressed at the February 27 where the board vote took place to end Meet and Confer —the longstanding faculty input channel as well as the faculty interjected procedure— or Residential Faculty Policy also known as RFP.

In a previous nevalleynews.org article Lorena Austin, a Mesa Community College student and Student Government Body President told the board at the February 27 recorded meeting about the growing concern on the part of MCCCD students.

“We have over 500 signatures from students throughout Maricopa Community College district in support of our faculty and staff who are the backbone of this great institution and have changed our lives all for the better. If we had more time I’m sure, between classes and work, there would be more than 1000 I assure you,” Austin said.

During that same meeting, the student body spokesperson described that the circulated petitions turned in would have significantly greater—but in the short amount of time before the crucial vote—the signatures provided should speak for themselves.

MCCCD is now seen as “a troublesome place to work” according to another faculty member who teaches at a Maricopa west valley campus.

Northeast Valley News spoke with several students from at least three of the MCCCD campus locations.  Many of the students were familiar with at least some portion of the February 27 vote.

Some students expressed concern over losing “great faculty” and good programs.

“You can only push someone so hard before they just give up and quit,” said Jose Rodriquez, an Estrella Community College student. 

“I know that I have had some really good professors and I know they don’t get paid a lot,” Rodriguez said.

Students are also concerned that the lack of support for faculty might be seen as a sign of disregard for student concerns and input as well.

More issues for MCCCD

Additional problems surfaced for MCCCD that involved paycheck errors for faculty and adjunct professors who were either incorrectly overpaid or underpaid.

According to one faculty source, the payroll errors went unnoticed and unaddressed by those in control once a new roll-out system for HCM (Human Capital Management) was initiated—that is— until some faculty reported discrepancies to certain authorities, or, reportedly, after the media began to cover the incidents.

Another faculty member indicated to Northeast Valley News that the “horrible” system upgrade wasn’t the worst part…it was “the lack of accountability and remorse on the part of those in charge” for a system upgrade that caused so many problems for both faculty and students.

In what might be considered another faculty moral buster— a document surfaced indicating that all ten (10) faculty senate members from each of the Maricopa Community Colleges signed a resolution of a Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of MCCCD’s Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, LaCoya Shelton.

According to one faculty source, close to the MCCCD administration, the unanimous faculty senate resolution has been largely ignored by the board and the district.

In an email made available to nevalleynews.org, the email message that was circulated to faculty was with regard to the Vote of No Confidence resolution and read:

Colleagues,


Between April 13 and April 26, 2018, all ten Faculty Senates of the Maricopa Community Colleges passed a resolution of a Vote of No Confidence in the leadership of MCCCD’s Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, LaCoya Shelton. The Senates agreed that under Vice Chancellor Shelton’s leadership, the Human Resources Division has caused grievous harm to our students, faculty, and staff by failing to uphold four of their own “Guiding Principles” as laid out in their 2015-2018 Strategic Plan:

  • “We work collaboratively and share ideas to provide seamless and consistent customer service.”
  • “We foster relationships built on trust by delivering consistent customer resolutions that inspires [sic] confidence and credibility.”
  • “We are accountable to ethically utilize our resources in an efficient and effective manner.”
  • “We embrace and promote an inclusive environment where everyone is treated with fairness and respect.”

We notified Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick and Chief Operating Officer Elliott Hibbs of the vote and provided them with a copy of the resolution (attached below). Further actions regarding the concerns outlined in the resolution are under consideration by the Faculty Senate Presidents.

The full resolution was a separate attached document signed by all ten faculty senate members. 

Northeast Valley News contacted the office of the MCCCD Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick on June 15 for a response with regard to the faculty senate resolution document of a Vote of No Confidence—no response was returned to nevalleynews.org from the Chancellor-but nevalleynews.org did receive a request on June 21 from a directed representative to contact their office with regard to our initial request for a response from the Chancellor’s office.

Nevalleynews.org contacted the directed representative on June 22 with a request to contact them for an interview and further offered a telephone interview with the directed representative with regard to a response from the Chancellor’s office.

As of publication, no response was returned to nevalleynews.org and our interview request was not answered.

The Silence is deafening

The “further actions regarding the concerns,” stated in the last paragraph of the email notice of a Vote of No Confidence resolution email and “under consideration” by the ten Faculty Senate Presidents are unknown at this time. 

Northeast Valley News contacted at least one senate member who signed the document for a response and interview—the individual declined a response over fear of retaliation.

The fear of retaliation appears to be growing among faculty—and for a public school system where faculty input and support has been highlighted on the MCCCD district website as an invaluable foundation of education a website that highlights the accomplishments of the district’s faculty…

From the moment you set foot on campus, our renowned faculty members are here to help you achieve your goals.”

—the fear to speak openly and on the record by more than a few faculty is concerning to many students.

The MCCCD board and some in the administration are in a really bad “marriage” with Maricopa Community Colleges faculty— and many MCCCD students are aware of this relationship.

The MCCCD board and district-wide administration ought to spend time actively looking for legitimate ways to repair the damage that has been inflicted on faculty morale.

The “magic” happens in each and every classroom and so much of this depends on the faculty adviser—and MCCCD students know it.

Just ask them.

Maricopa County Community College District would be well advised to invest in repair and rejuvenation of their faculty and the first step should be finding a way to reverse the 2018 February vote to end Meet and Confer and Residential Faculty Policy.

In the end—the “further actions” that are under consideration and documented in the faculty senate email may not, in fact, be determined by faculty, the ten members of the faculty senate, the MCCCD governing board or even the Chancellor’s office.

The further actions may come when students who feel they have been ignored and their publicly stated opinions devalued —have had enough—and decide that the MCCCD environment is not where they want to invest their time, money, hard work or their academic journey.

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Reporting from the Northeast Valley, Phoenix, and surrounding communities. State, National and International coverage- from the campus of Scottsdale Community College.
Students show support for faculty despite the February 2018 MCCCD board vote to end faculty Meet and Confer and RFP