Saturday, April 28, 2007

Discrimination trial: OPENING STATEMENTS

BUSYNESS PREVENTED ME FROM PROVIDING a full report of the first day of the RAGHU MATHUR discrimination trial, including the important “opening statements.” Belatedly, I provide that report below:

The U.S. Courthouse on Spring Street is beautiful and old, built during the Depression. I always enjoy visiting that fine old building.

Naturally, to enter the building, you need to submit to the usual airport-style security screening. These days, you can usually manage to get past the gate without taking off your belt and shoes!

Judge A. Howard Matz’s courtroom is impressive, about 60’ by 60’, with an audience gallery occupying the back one third or so. (I’d show you a picture, but photography is forbidden.)

Jury selection:

Tuesday’s jury selection process was interesting—it’s always fun guessing which side is gonna nix which potential juror. The jury pool was diverse: various backgrounds, ethnicities, etc. The film/TV industry was well represented, but so was auto repair and studentry. Most prospective jurors seemed reasonable, intelligent.

Eventually, the jury was whittled down to about eight people, and Judge Matz briefly lectured them about their task. The Plaintiff, he said, has the burden of proof, but “proving” her claim in this trial doesn’t mean establishing it “beyond a reasonable doubt.” For this case, he said, the standard is the “preponderance of the evidence.” That is, explained Matz, the claim made against the defendant must be more probably true than not true.”

Opening statements:


Opening statements commenced at about 1:50 on Tuesday. Carol Sobel, Cely Mora’s attorney, explained that Mora was making two claims: (1) that she was discriminated against—in the dean hire of Spring ’01—because she is a Latina; and (2) Mora and others who worked under Dean Poindexter were allowed by Mathur to suffer a hostile work environment.

Sobel explained that Poindexter’s lack of qualifications for the job was clear from the very beginning, a fact understood by most members of the hiring committee (whose role it was to winnow the field of applicants and make recommendations to the college President). While Mora had long been an Athletic Director at the college and had served as acting Dean for a year, Poindexter had no managerial experience at all; he was in fact an athletic trainer.

When Mora didn’t get the job, she returned to the classroom and took steps to leave room for the new dean to establish himself. Meanwhile, Poindexter’s first action was to take Mora’s office, despite its being a small faculty office that was distant from his assistant’s desk.

Very soon, other disturbing incidents began to occur. Poindexter, a large man, would fly into rages and behave in a menacing manner. He did this only with the women. Department chair Ted W went to IVC President Mathur to express concerns on behalf of the women, but Mathur took no action. Meanwhile, the more the women complained about Poindexter’s behavior, the worse his behavior became.

During the Spring of ’02, a particularly disturbing incident occurred; Poindexter screamed at and menaced a secretary—an event Ted W witnessed himself. The women grew increasingly fearful of Poindexter, and, soon, female PE instructors met with Poindexter only when accompanied by a male colleague.

Poindexter targeted the women of his School in other ways, giving them bad schedules and classes, delaying their pay, etc. The men were given what they wanted.

In April of ’02, after numerous informal complaints, six employees filed a formal “harassment” complaint against Poindexter.

Meanwhile, John Lowe, an instructor who had served on the hiring committee, began to do some digging into the new dean’s background. He discovered disturbing facts about Poindexter that were concealed during the dean search. When he brought the information to the attention of administrators, who acknowledged it, nothing was done.

Later, faculty discovered that Mathur had given Poindexter a “to do” list. But none of the tasks on the list concerned the most important issue, the safety issue.

Eventually, an investigation was launched, but it was not completed until a year after problems had been brought to Mathur’s attention. During that whole time, Poindexter was not removed from the workplace.

The investigation report of October, 2002, concluded that Poindexter did not have the skills to be dean, but that fact was already manifest during the search process in the Spring of ’01.

But if Poindexter was incompetent, why was he only incompetent in his dealings with the women? Even the men acknowledged that Poindexter’s behavioral issues only concerned the women.


Dennis Walsh presented the statement for the defense. He urged the jury to wait until all of the evidence was presented before they formed a judgment. There are, he said, two separate issues: (1) whether or not Cely Mora was discriminated against because of her race and (2) whether Mathur responded to the existence of a hostile work environment. According to Walsh, if Ms. Mora has a complaint, it is with Poindexter, not with Mathur.

This suit is “something that is personal,” he said.

According to Walsh, Mathur had very little involvement in the process that led to Poindexter’s hire in the Spring of 2001. The hiring committee’s job was to produce at least three qualified candidates for him to interview and choose among.

Walsh emphasized that, in the elaborate hiring process, the three candidates sent up to the President of the College (Mathur) were understood to be qualified and on an “equal footing.”

Mathur interviewed the three candidates, including Mora and Poindexter, and he “looked at the big picture stuff.” That (evidently) is why he favored Poindexter over Mora.

Walsh explained who Mathur is. He came to these shores from India and worked his way up to his current high position as Chancellor of the district.

When Mathur interviewed the three candidates, Mora, though a good candidate, didn’t impress. There was no discriminatory intent here.

Walsh further explained that, before the Board of Trustees voted to give Poindexter the job (based on Mathur’s recommendation), they heard from members of the committee and others who objected to Mathur’s selection. They heard all the arguments. Even so, they voted to give Poindexter the job.

Walsh acknowledged that Dean Poindexter “had some problems.” In part, he experienced problems because of faculty, including some members of the committee, said Walsh.

According to Walsh, Mathur and the district responded appropriately to the complaints about Poindexter, for the district launched an investigation. Mathur had nothing to do with that. The “female investigator” eventually filed a report that found no reason to conclude that Poindexter’s behavior re the complaining women was “based on their gender.”

Walsh noted that some of the people who later complained about Poindexter actually recommended him during the hiring process.

Walsh closed by asserting that, when all the facts are laid out, it will be clear that the focus of the “Poindexter” problem was not Mathur, but Poindexter.

Mathur is being sued because this is “personal,” said Walsh.


1. Why had faculty members of the hiring committee forwarded Poindexter’s name to the President for interview? Walsh failed to mention a motivation that has become clear during subsequent testimony. Faculty members of the hiring committee (there were administrators as well) were aware that, were they to fail to send up three applicants (instead of, say, just Mora), Mathur would “shut down” the process, forcing it to start from scratch. Some members of the committee naively supposed that Mathur would do the “right thing” and hire the plainly most qualified candidate: Mora.

2. About Mathur’s impressive rise to prominence. Walsh failed to mention the corruption, unseemly conduct, and illegality that attended that saga. Mathur's initial rise to administration occurred during a time in which the then-corrupt faculty union was in league with the "Board Majority" to reorganize the entire district and settle scores. See Dissent archives.

3. Why did the Board of Trustees go along with Mathur’s recommendation to hire Poindexter? Walsh failed to mention that the Board of Trustees had already had a long history of defending their man Mathur against faculty objections and charges of unprofessionalism. Indeed, the faculty had voted “no confidence” in Mathur overwhelmingly, but still the board supported Mathur. Eventually, Mathur was selected as Chancellor; a year later, he endured a 94% vote of “no confidence” among faculty. The board responded by giving Mathur a raise. He now makes about $300,000 a year.

To some members of the board, that faculty object to a Mathurian decision is ipso facto a reason to support it.

4. Can we trust Human Resources’ investigation of Poindexter? Walsh failed to mention that the head of Human Resources during the time of the Poindexter matter had been a member of the Board of Trustees. Indeed, she had been a member of the notoriously law-breaking board that illegally promoted Mathur to administration (once as interim President of IVC, and a second time, again illegally, as permanent president of IVC) back in 1997. See College board gives former board member district [HR] job. (3/8/01)

See also Former trustee only candidate for district [HR] job (2/22/01):
…Lorch, a former part-time instructor and a former board member, has supporters and detractors from a long-time history with the district.

Her supporters say she was a popular teacher and was a top contender for the personnel position. Her detractors say Lorch, as a trustee, had a hostile relationship with faculty members.

…During her time on the board, Lorch was part of a four-member majority that appointed Irvine Valley College president Raghu Mathur….

Friday, April 27, 2007

MATHUR discrimination trial, day 3: courtroom titters

Day 3 (Thursday) of the Raghu Mathur “discrimination” trial went well for the plaintiff, Aracely Mora.

Brief description of the case: Back in 2001, Irvine Valley College President Raghu P. Mathur hired the clearly inexperienced and unimpressive Rodney Poindexter (aka White Guy from Virginia) instead of the experienced and impressive Cely Mora (aka Experienced & Impressive Latina) for the new DEAN position. That looked bad, really bad. From the start, Dean Poindexter exhibited incompetence, emotional instability, and a pattern of harassing and menacing those females over whom he had authority. After a year, he was fired, but only after spectacularly disturbing episodes, including one in which a screaming Poindexter chased and cornered a secretary.

On Days 1 and 2 (Tuesday and Wednesday), we learned of the hiring committee’s horror when, after recommending Mora, Mathur hired the plainly inferior Poindexter. We learned of Poindexter’s shockingly unprofessional behavior, which was permitted to continue despite early and persistent warnings and complaints. We learned about an episode four years earlier in which a committee strongly recommended the hire of someone with stellar qualifications—someone who happened to be a woman of color; Mathur hired a “minimally qualified” white male instead. According to two witnesses who asked Mathur for his reasons, Mathur explained that he chose the white male because he (Mathur) did not want to be accused of “reverse discrimination” (Mathur is Indian and the candidate was Sri Lankan).

Normally, of course, the charge of “reverse discrimination” arises in cases in which a less qualified person of color is favored. In this case, the person of color was plainly more qualified.


Day 3 (Thursday) went well for the plaintiff (Mora). John Lowe, a now retired psychology instructor who served on the hiring committee, testified first. He explained that he had brought complaints of a hostile work environment to the relevant administrator (Glenn Roquemore, Mathur’s successor at IVC). Evidently, he had spoken with Mathur about the matter as well.

At one point, Lowe’s memo regarding workplace violence was introduced. The jury sat up. Mathur’s attorney argued that, in “fairness” to Poindexter, administration could not remove him without an investigation. Under redirect, Lowe testified that, in his mind, the issue was not one of fairness. The issue was one of workplace violence.

Next up was Cely, the plaintiff. She was allowed to read from her letter to the board of trustees (of the South Orange County Community College District), which asserted the discrimination allegation and also stated that she was the only administrator of color at the college and when she was not selected as dean, none remained.

According to one courtroom observer, the jury paid close attention to those two facts and also laughed when they saw the scores of the two candidates on the first two rounds. (Both instructors and administrators served on the hiring committee; their scoring differed in interesting ways.)

The trial resumes on Tuesday. Cely will finish her testimony.

Then comes Mathur!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Court report


I emailed Carol for an update on the Raghu Mathur/Cely Mora "discrimination" trial, and she sent back this jpeg without comment.

Dunno what it means.

That Carol. She sure can be hard to read. --CW

Trial: Day 2
Trial: Day 1

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Mathur discrimination trial: according to witnesses, in 1997, Mathur rejected a candidate because of her ethnicity

Day 2 of the Raghu Mathur “discrimination” trial. (See previous post: DAY 1.)


IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to watch this trial unfold without noticing the trail of disrupted and damaged lives left in the wake of Raghu P. Mathur's pursuit of administrative advancement. You know all the names.

—But, no, you don't know all the names. During lunch today, I spoke with (plaintiff) Cely Mora's attorney, Carol, and with various other friends and colleagues. One colleague had a look of sadness on his face as he described the unhappiness of one of the unsung victims of Mathur's profoundly unfortunate 2001 hiring of Rodney Poindexter as Dean of PE, Health Sciences, and Athletics: a non-academic employee who had simply tried to do her job, a quiet job, she thought. But, then, suddenly, she found herself in something big and ugly and incomprehensible. I listened with horror and surprise.

"She just hasn't been able to get past it," explained the colleague.

As he spoke, I looked up and spotted Mathur at the other end of the cafeteria, next to a vending machine, speaking on the phone. He was only a few feet away from his table. There sat his very expensive lawyers—paid for, naturally, by the district. They're good.

Mathur seemed confident. He smiled.


Proceedings started just after 9:00 a.m. Ted W of PE was on the witness stand. He detailed his experiences as a member of the “dean search” that yielded the hire of Rodney Poindexter as Dean of PE, Health Sciences, and Athletics—thanks to the decision by Mathur (then President of Irvine Valley College) to hire that inexperienced White Guy from Virginia instead of the celebrated and experienced and tried-and-true Latina (Aracely Mora) who is now suing his ass.

Well, when that went south and the school ended up with Dean Poindexter, the faculty made a real effort to work with the guy. (I've been impressed by the manifest magnanimity of some of these witnesses.) But, from Day 1, the new dean was a mega-disaster. Ted related several incidents. He described the infamous episode in which Poindexter ran after and screamed at secretary Suzi F. There were other episodes, all involving women, never men. Poindexter messed with their teaching schedules, adopted menacing postures, routinely became angry at them. He didn’t do that to the men.

Eventually, Judge Matz called for a break. (During the break, Mathur’s lawyer, Dennis W, walked up to me and asked if I minded telling him my name. “Yes, I do mind,” I said. Creep.)


Later, we heard about one female instructor’s attempt to secure tennis shoes for her athletes. For that, she had to meet with her dean—Poindexter. That was the standing order: if you want anything, you must meet personally with the dean. But the meeting (according to one witness) yielded another Poindexterian eruption of frustration and anger and bizarre sudden exits. The instructor was reduced to cowering.

Knowing of these incidents, Ted, the chair of his department, complained to administrator Glenn R, who said: give Rod a chance. Plus: you people are exaggerating.

No we’re not, said Ted.

Under cross, Mathur’s lawyer pursued a favored defense motif: Here, again, someone is testifying for Cely—but isn’t he a close personal friend of hers, Hmmm?



At about noon, Judge A. Howard Matz—a prickly and demanding fellow—sent the jury out to lunch, but he kept the two opposing attorneys back to spank ‘em for a while. The jury is “utterly befuddled,” he declared. You need a chronology! Charts!

After lunch, Mathur’s attorney was all over the fact that Ted had given Poindexter a pretty good score after the first-level interview. Plus Ted had joined with the rest of the committee in a decision to send Poindexter’s name along with Mora’s to the next level—to be interviewed by President Mathur.

If Poindexter was so damned unqualified, why were you people sending up his name?

Ted explained that this particular dean search was the second go-round, and if the committee didn’t send up three names, Mathur would shut the process down, and the whole damn thing would start from scratch again. He really thought that Mathur would hire the candidate who was plainly the most qualified.

“I was naïve,” said Ted.

Mathur's attorney unveiled another motif: you faculty didn't want to start the process over, cuz then you might not get on the committee next time! Isn't that it!


Next up on the witness stand was Ted’s colleague Martin M, who also served on the Dean hiring committee. He told very similar tales. No, he definitely didn’t want to send Poindexter’s name up to the next level, but he hoped that Mathur would “do the right thing” by choosing the best candidate.

Mathur’s lawyer again pounced all over the “friendship” that existed between Martin and Mora at the time of the dean search. Wasn’t she a close friend of yours? —Sure, said Martin, but everyone in the School is a close personal friend. That just happens when your work together with people.

Martin described Poindexter’s meltdowns. It was pretty gruesome.

I’ve got to say: that Poindexter fella was SERIOUSLY MESSED UP. Worse than I ever knew.


The next witness, Priscilla R, was the chair of a hiring committee for a biology instructor. This was back in 1997. She explained how the committee had judged that one candidate, Maala A (a female of Sri Lankan ethnicity), was stellar, but the remaining candidates were far less impressive. Once again, they faced the likelihood that Mathur, the spanking-new interim President of IVC, would shut down the whole process—forcing a time-consuming restart—were the committee to send up only one name, Maala’s. And so, especially since previous presidents generally went along with search committees' recommendations, this committee sent up the name of the next best candidate, too—a white male who was judged to be minimally qualified. (All others of those interviewed were judged to be unqualified.)

As per custom, Priscilla, as chair of the committee, informed the second level group (Mathur and two Vice Presidents) that, though the committee was sending forward two names, Maala was the unanimous and clear preference of the committee.

To their horror, the hiring committee soon discovered that Mathur had chosen the “minimally qualified” candidate.

The committee then instructed Priscilla to discuss the matter with Mathur. Mathur met with her and explained why he had not selected Maala. Ready?

He had not selected Maala owing to her ethnicity.

Turns out, he didn’t want to be accused of choosing someone of his own ethnicity (Mathur hails from India, which is a stone’s throw from Sri Lanka).

In Raghu's world, it's always about him.


The last witness of the day, history professor Frank M, was the “Staff Diversity” Officer at the time of the controversial biology hire. One of Mathur’s VPs (Bob L) had expressed concerns about the biology hire (to Frank?), and so Frank met with President Mathur. He asked Mathur to explain his choice, his failure to hire Maala.

According to Frank, Mathur then asserted that the white male was a “better fit for the job.”

Further, Mathur didn’t want to be accused of reverse discrimination.


As I write this, I think again about the damage that this ruthless man, Raghu Mathur, has done and continues to do. There are so many victims: some big, some small.

The instructor that Mathur hired in 1997, too, is a victim. He heard about a job, and so he applied for it. He interviewed. He got the job. He did nothing wrong. Plus he's a good guy.

But then there's all this.

More tomorrow. (It'll be an abbreviated session in court). --CW

(For background, see Mathur and women.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The discrimination lawsuit: Mathur's "unauthorized baseball diamond" yarn

OK, I just got home, and it’s been a long day, so I can only give a very brief report on the first day of the “Mora v. Mathur” discrimination trial up in the Federal Court Building in LA.

Back in 2001, Aracely Mora, a Latina, was the Director of the Athletics Program at Irvine Valley College and had served for about a year as IVC's interim dean of PE & Athletics. She had received only excellent evaluations and had established a state- and even nationwide reputation in her field.

So she applied for the new Dean job that opened up at Irvine Valley College. In the end, she was among the three finalists sent up by the hiring committee for interview by IVC President, Raghu P. Mathur.

She didn’t get the job. The man who did get the job, a white male from Virginia named Rodney Poindexter (I kid you not), was completely unqualified, and he turned out to be both incompetent and unstable.

What's more, according to Cely’s lawyer, Carol Sobel, he created a hostile work environment for the female faculty and other female workers. The women were given terrible teaching assignments and endured various other problems. Somehow, for the male instructors, these difficulties did not arise.

At one point, Poindexter was observed screaming at a female secretary, pinning her to a wall.

When complaints were lodged about Poindexter's frightening behavior—at first informally, later formally—Mathur did nothing about it. Poindexter continued in his job for about a year.

Even before the hiring process, Cely had been told by friends, including administrators, that she had no chance of being selected as dean. She was, after all, a woman, and Mathur didn’t hire women.

Well, to make a long story short, the jury trial started today. The morning was devoted to selecting a jury. In the afternoon, Cely’s former dean, Greg Bishopp, testified. Tomorrow, members of the 2001 search committee will be called to the stand. The case will continue through Thursday and will resume next Tuesday. It should be over by the middle of next week.

Before the trial is over, we’ll hear some mighty juicy factoids. Even today, things got interesting. Mathur is now claiming that he decided against Cely because she had pursued the construction of a baseball diamond behind his back.

Yeah, but it certainly appears that Mora did no such thing. As Bishopp's testimony today made clear, Mathur was involved in the project from the very beginning.

Well, I’ve gotta go. I’ll report back ASAP.

See also Mathur and women

The turd in the punchbowl

TODAY (Monday), there were two board meetings:

BOARD MEETING #1, which went from 3-5 p.m., concerned our colleges' Accreditation issues. The board of trustees and the governance groups were supposed to discuss the matter together, but it didn't really turn out that way.

Trustee Williams spent a good deal of time criticizing (he called it "challenging") the Accreds re their "secrecy." But at least he was pretty pleasant about it. I'll give 'em that.

Then there was Chancellor Mathur. Evidently, he came to the meeting only to wag his finger at faculty. I'm not sure, but I think he was saying that faculty cause the board to micromanage, what with their phone calls and "badgering."

Yes, "badgering." He kept saying that.

He even singled out some faculty leadership for blame. It was pretty unpleasant.

Nobody else did that. I mean, most people only had good things to say about everybody else. Mathur was the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.

Board meeting #2, the regular monthly meeting, started at about 6:45. It attracted a fair number of faculty (see photo below) who were there mostly to encourage the district to be reasonable about the upcoming contract negotiations. The district's initial proposal is inauspicious.

Wagner sought to be reassuring. It's premature, he said, to worry that the negotiations process is already going badly. Well, OK Don.

Kathie and Howard gave a first-rate presentation on the curriculum process. It was plain, I think, that the trustees were very impressed, not only with the presentation, but with the amount of work that goes into curriculum.

It was a great moment.

I'll have lots more detail in a couple of days, but, right now, I've got to get some sleep. Tomorrow, of course, is trial day up in LA. You know, Mathur's getting sued again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rebel Girl's Poetry Corner: Do Something

It's Monday. Do something, somewhere.

by Dan Gerber:

Doing Nothing

When I passed him near the bus stop
on Union Square while the cops
cuffed his hands behind his back, while he
said, "I didn't do anything,"
I didn't, either,
do anything but look away,
a little afraid they might cuff me
if I paid too much attention,
and walked on still wondering
what he might've done
and still more what I
might've done.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A skosh, a dollop, and a plague!

WELL, it’s almost time for another meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees. The show starts tomorrow night, at 6:30, I believe. (All board meetings are performed in the Health Sciences big top—at Saddleback College.)


The district is still wrestling with some pesky accrediting issues—a skosh of micromanagement, a plague of despair, a dollop of Goo, etc.—and so there’ll be an EXTRA-SPECIAL MEETING to discuss all that at 3:00 p.m. Allegedly, the governance groups will be allowed to participate in this discussion.

There’s a chance that Trustees Fuentes or Wagner will hint at conspiracy theories again, so you don’t want to miss that. Those two are zany, they're daffy!


If you’d like a copy of the agenda for the regular meeting, just go to the District Website. Voila!

I perused the agenda, and nothing really jumps out at me. It’s always hard to predict what these people are going to do. Agendas don’t tell you much. Sometimes they freak out over flat nothing—like death-defying trips to the beaches of Spain. And sometimes they surprise you and get all magnanimous and sensitive.

They can even be nice.

Item 4.1 is “Approval of Exclusive Rights to Negotiate Agreement (ERNA) with Camelot Entertainment.” Maybe you know what this means. I don’t. Does it mean that the district is zeroing in on the Camelot deal?

Camelot, of course, is the investor group who proposed a super-duper studio complex to take up much of our ATEP acreage in Tustin. Some people worry that we’ll get fleeced by these guys. Could be.

Mathur seems to have taken over the ATEP project. He imagines, I think, that he can envision a success at ATEP so spectacular that his mug will eventually get blasted onto Mount Rushmore.

Item 5.3 is whether to “Approve the Saddleback College study abroad program: Spanish Language Studies in Guanajuato, Mexico in the summer of 2007 and the Educational Tour/Field Study Travel Contractor Agreement with the American Institute for Foreign Study for coordinating all travel agreements.”

Fuentes is the kind of guy who thinks that Mexico and Spain are basically the same place, since the natives speak the same language, more or less. So why not save a few pesos and head for Mexico? Usually, Don Wagner can be expected to warble a similar tune. So expect these guys to be all over this proposal. And why not?

Item 5.4 is an airing of the faculty union’s proposed contract.

Item 5.5 is whether to “Approve the district’s initial proposal for negotiations with the SOCCCD Faculty Association and set a public hearing on the proposal at the regularly scheduled May Board meeting.”

As I’m sure you’re aware, the district has lowballed the faculty bigtime with this proposal. I think the trustees want us to wear knickers and become Republicans. It’s pretty obnoxious. Plus they want us to teach more than two days a week and to swear off striking.

I’ve been teaching five days a week for years, so it’s no biggie to me if they make us show up now and again. I guess others feel differently.

5.7 is a contract with a private dick (Karen T. Meyers, Esq.). What’s that all about?

5.8 lists some Academic Personnel Actions, including a couple of “Additional Compensation”s—so maybe Raghu’s trying to pull another hidden raise scam. Hard to say.

There are two curious “discussion items”:

5.1: “A Board discussion item has been requested on the topics of the Cost of Employee Benefits and Staffing Levels.”

That doesn’t sound good.

5.2: “Faculty from both colleges will present information relative to the curriculum development process and procedures.”

Mathur’s been in a lather about this one for weeks. Don’t know why.

For some reason, he has insisted on introducing the presentation, which will be handled mostly by faculty, since it’s totally their gig. I think Raghu is trying to convince the board that he’s working well with faculty and, in fact, everything’s hunky-dory. Well, when it comes to curriculum development, things are hunky-dory—exactly because Raghu’s not around to mess ‘em up.

My prediction: he’ll stir up a hornets’ nest with this. You watch.

Yeah, but like the Reb says, my predictions aren’t worth spit. I mean, I was the guy who swore that Americans couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to reelect George W. Bush.

Li'l Sarah on the tire swing down by the oaks

5 minutes ago: Sunny Girl spots some deer

I took the snaps, though.

The transfer mission: we oughta be committed


It's a community college "see me, feel me" extravaganza!

This morning’s New York Times offers a slew of articles (well, 3 of 'em) about community colleges under the title The Two-Year Attraction, where we learn that “Almost half of all college students go to a community college, making the two-year experience as much the norm as not.”

Like it or not, we (at the community colleges) are where it's at, and increasingly so!


In John Merrow’s “Dream Catchers,” we learn that

Community colleges today do far more than offer a ladder to the final years [of college]. They train the people who repair your furnace, install your plumbing, take your pulse. They prepare retiring baby boomers for second or third careers, and provide opportunities for a growing number of college-age students turning away from the high cost and competition at universities. And charged with doing the heavy remedial lifting, community colleges are now as much 10th and 11th grade as 13th and 14th.

Merrow reports that “Two-year colleges receive less than 30 percent of state and local financing for higher education," and yet they enroll “nearly half of all undergraduates.”


In “For Achievers, a New Destination,” Beth Frerking explains that

…as four-year universities have become more expensive, good students who want to save money are turning to community colleges to earn their core undergraduate credits. …[A]ccording to a report in October by the College Board, community colleges charge an annual average tuition of $2,272, compared with $5,836 at state universities and $22,218 at private institutions.

Many two-year colleges are now recruiting students who fit the traditional profile of baccalaureate undergraduates: 18- to 24-year-olds who have strong high school records and are moving directly into higher education full time.

…No longer wed primarily to a work force-training mission, these colleges consider it a major, if not predominant, goal to prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions.


Frerking’s next observation might be of particular interest to denizens of the SOCCCD:

…The two-year colleges most committed to funneling students into four-year colleges tend to have some or all of the following: learning communities (in which students attend classes with the same small cohort of classmates), honors programs (noted for curriculum that crosses disciplines, teachers who hold advanced degrees and smaller classes taken with similarly talented peers) and articulation agreements with four-year institutions in the state (typically synchronizing basic courses with a university’s requirements and guaranteeing admittance to transfer students who have kept their grades up).

These colleges focus on liberal arts and the sciences, responding to increasing demand for math and science teachers, health professionals and high-tech experts. The best community colleges also have what experts call “a culture of evidence,” meaning they extensively assess students’ academic performance and adjust teaching practices accordingly, says Kay M. McClenney, director of the annual Community College Survey of Student Engagement….


ASSUMING that Frerking knows what she’s talking about—no doubt some will carp about some of her generalizations re “commitment”—we might consider how the SOCCCD’s colleges do relative to the standards that she mentions.

I’ve offered some observations below, but PLEASE WRITE US to tell us how you think Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College, and ATEP (which will open in the Fall) rate on the Frerking "commitment" meter.

Learning communities: NOPE [None that I’m aware of, unless rabbits count.]

Honors programs: YES & NO [unlike some of the programs that Frerking describes, by law (I believe), IVC’s Honors Program cannot be selective among students. That is, less-than-“talented” students can and do enroll in our Honors courses.]

Articulation agreements: YES

Focussing on liberal arts and the sciences:

Responding to increasing demand for math and science teachers, health professionals and high-tech experts:

Embracing a culture of evidence: [I know that some of my colleagues in English will have something to say about this.]


See also Tennis in a parking lot

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary