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Faculty Association endorses four MCCCD board candidates in the hope of changing climate of ‘fear and mistrust’

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Faculty Association endorses four MCCCD board candidates in the hope of changing climate of ‘fear and mistrust’

Jesse Tannous, Reporter

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An Oct.1, article by nevalleynews.org reported that the Maricopa Faculty Executive Council President, John Schampel, released a letter stating that the Faculty Association had filed an official complaint with the Higher Learning Commission …  “in order to bring HLC’s attention to the many problematic behaviors this Board has consistently exhibited … “because this Board has repeatedly demonstrated its lack of respect for higher education, its mission, its principles, and the value it provides to the community we serve.”

On Oct. 12, the Higher Learning Commission, the accreditation body for the entire Maricopa Community College system, responded to the complaint with a letter to Chancellor Marie Harper-Marinick requesting her reply to the HLC by Oct. 29—as stated:

HLC will provide an institution an opportunity to respond to a complaint if it is determined that further consideration of the complaint is warranted. Based on an initial review of the complaint from the Association, HLC has deemed it necessary to provide it to the MCC District Office for review and response under this policy and copy each accredited MCC institution’s leadership.

The concerns raised in the complaint broadly relate to the management, effectiveness, and decision- making of the MCC board. Faculty have expressed their grievances to HLC – now twice this year – about the integrity of MCC’s board and the lack of faculty participation in shared governance.

(complete letter provided below)

 

 

October 12, 2018

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Chancellor Maricopa County Community College District 2411 W. 14th St.
Tempe AZ 85281

Dear Chancellor Harper-Marinick:

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) recently received the enclosed complaint with supporting documents about Maricopa Community Colleges (MCC or “the Colleges”) from John Schampel on behalf of the MCC Faculty Association. Since much of the complaint concerns MCC as a whole and its board, we are forwarding it to you for a response. As stated in HLC Policy COMM.A.10.030, Complaints and Other Information Regarding Affiliated Institutions, HLC will provide an institution an opportunity to respond to a complaint if it is determined that further consideration of the complaint is warranted. Based on an initial review of the complaint from the Association, HLC has deemed it necessary to provide it to the MCC District Office for review and response under this policy and copy each accredited MCC institution’s leadership.

The complaint raises recurring concerns about MCC’s ability to meet the Criteria for Accreditation and assure a learning environment focused on students receiving a high quality education. The concerns raised in the complaint broadly relate to the management, effectiveness, and decision- making of the MCC board. Faculty have expressed their grievances to HLC – now twice this year – about the integrity of MCC’s board and the lack of faculty participation in shared governance. The faculty complaint claims that the MCC board has:

  • Engaged in decision-making and actions not in the best interest of the Colleges, including failing to fulfill its fiduciary role, potentially resulting in a loss of funding or appropriations;
  • Influenced academic, operational, and student affairs matters normally the purview of faculty, staff, administration, and students, based solely on personal viewpoints and/or political agendas resulting in an intolerant and biased climate not conducive to a spirit of open inquiry, learning, and academic freedom;
  • Not been responsive to faculty input, concerns, or requests for information, while attempting to undermine shared governance resulting in a loss of collaborative advantage and devaluing the intellectual capital of the institutions from which MCC derives much of its value;

MCCCD, October 12, 2018 2

  • Violated its own policies and procedures resulting in the erosion of integrity and good governance practices expected from leadership as a model for the Colleges;
  • Failed to fully understand the details of proposed changes or the consequences of making changes resulting in ill-informed decision-making and a loss of buy-in from stakeholders;
  • Engaged in retaliatory behavior based on differing opinions and political viewpoints resulting in a chilling effect on culture and a climate of fear and disrespect; and,
  • Not been transparent in its communications and decision-making thus actually 
increasing scrutiny of its actions and generating complaints to external entities such as HLC. 
Specifically, the complaint raises concerns with MCC’s compliance with the following Criteria for Accreditation and Assumed Practices:
  • Criterion One, Core Component 1.D: The institution’s mission demonstrates commitment to the public good;
  • Criterion Two, Core Component 2.A: The institution operates with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel, and auxiliary functions; it establishes and follows policies and processes for fair and ethical behavior on the part of its governing board, administration, faculty and staff;
  • Criterion Five, Core Component 2.C: The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity;
  • Criterion Five, Core Component 5.B: The institution’s governance and administrative structures promote effective leadership and support collaborative processes that enable the institution to fulfill its mission; and,
  • Assumed Practice A.1: The institution has a conflict of interest policy that ensures that the governing board and the senior administrative personnel act in the best interest of the institution. 
I am asking for an expedited review of this complaint since this is the second recurrence of issues about MCC being brought forth to HLC for consideration this year. Please review the complaint and supporting documents and submit your response to complaints@hlcommission.org by October 29th. The narrative portion of your response should be no more than 20 pages in PDF format, but you may include any number of additional pages of supporting documentation within the same document. 
Once HLC receives your response, the respective HLC liaisons, Legal Affairs, and I will review it for consideration of next steps. Under my authority, and depending on further information, I may call for an Advisory Visit to conduct an on-site evaluation of circumstances at MCC. Chancellor Harper- Marinick, if an Advisory Visit becomes necessary, it will involve the leadership and representatives of every MCC institution as their accreditation status is influenced by the shared Governing Board and District administration. Additionally, each institution is accredited separately by HLC.

MCCCD, October 12, 2018 3

If you have any questions about this letter or the process, please contact Mr. Zach Waymer, Manager for Governmental Affairs. Mr. Waymer can be reached at zwaymer@hlcommission.org. Thank you for your time and cooperation.

Sincerely,

Barbara Gellman-Danley President

 

The 13-page complaint filed by the Faculty Association, was sent to the Higher Learning Commission on Sept. 25.

The complaint includes allegations of the Board using political partisanship to influence the funding of certain educational programs that did not line up with conservative views, discriminatory practices, creating a climate of fear and mistrust among faculty, supporting the elimination of funding to MCCCD via the Arizona Legislature and alleged discrepancies in the decision to end the decades-long football program at Maricopa colleges—to name a few.

The next step is still unclear with regard to the Higher Learning Commission and the further actions the organization may take, but the accreditation body appears to be ready to launch an on-site investigation if necessary.

Anticipation of a new Maricopa Governing Board

Barry F. Vaughan is the Chair of the Political Action Committee of the Faculty Association. Vaughan addressed the support of four candidates endorsed by the Faculty Association that include—District 3, Marie Sullivan, District 4, Stan Arterberry, District 5, Tom Nerini and At-Large: Roc Arnett.

“Each of the candidates we have endorsed in this race are committed to sound governance, access, excellence, and affordable tuition for our students. Each of these candidates is committed to serving as fiduciaries who will make policy for the colleges and oversee the administration, not meddle in the operations of the colleges,” Vaughan said. “Perhaps most importantly, these candidates are committed to focusing on the mission of our colleges, not using their position as a stepping stone to higher public office or as a platform for their own political or ideological agenda.”

Dr. Nerini and Mr. Arterberry have extensive experience in education at the high school, community college and university level.

“They understand the nature of the pipeline of students, and have a profound understanding of the role of an elected, non-partisan board who must serve all members for the community,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan added that candidate Roc Arnett and Marie Sullivan have “experience in promoting public education for local community and economic development,” as well as an understanding of, “promoting public/private partnerships for the common good, inclusive of diverse faith-based and secular communities.”

Northeast Valley News asked Vaughan what each of the four candidates might do to remedy some of the issues raised in the Faculty Association’s complaint filed with the HLC.

“I don’t know what specific action these candidates would undertake if they are elected.  However, I have every confidence that they will demand a return to transparency and engagement with all communities of interest before undertaking significant decisions (e.g., the cancellation of sports programs).  I have no doubt that they will raise the bar on accountability for senior administrators and take immediate action to reverse the climate of fear that has been created by the behavior of the current board and some senior administrators.  I have no doubt that these candidates will once again place teaching and learning at the heart of all the policy decisions they make,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan also addressed the question as to whether or not these four candidates, if elected, may have the power to reverse the vote taken last February to end Meet and Confer and RFP.

“Absolutely. A new board can reverse the vote taken on Feb.  27, and return sanity to the Maricopa Colleges.  It’s that simple,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan was not optimistic with regard to what the Chancellor’s response might be to the Higher Learning Commission—a request the HLC made of Marinick by Oct. 29.

“Given the apparent flippancy with which the Chancellor has responded so far, given her inaction in the face of the Board’s partisan and ideological behavior, and the persistent public outcry over the bungled cancellation of football, and the disastrous roll out of the new payroll system, and her seeming lack of concern over persistent and documented problems among her senior administration, I can’t imagine she will take the HLC complaint very seriously.  She doesn’t seem to take anything seriously,” Vaughan said.

Northeast Valley News contacted the representative of record for the Chancellor’s office, Matt Hasson, in order to secure a response from the Chancellor with regard to the HLC letter.

As of publication, nevalleynews.org has not received a statement nor a response.

 

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Faculty Association endorses four MCCCD board candidates in the hope of changing climate of ‘fear and mistrust’