Thursday, March 19, 2015

Failure to communicate, Part III: SNAFU@ivc

     This afternoon’s meeting of the Irvine Valley College Academic Senate (senate = faculty qua participants in shared governance re academic matters) was pretty wild, dominated by discussion of the recent wildly unpopular faculty hiring decision. (See IVC Recruitment Stopped, but Saddleback Continues to Hire!)
     Among visitors today was Dan W, Pres of the Saddleback College Ac. Senate.
     Kathy S, IVC’s Ac. Sen. Prez, commenced speechifyin’ like she does. She said she’d keep her remarks short, but, somehow, they failed to respond to her intention.
     With regard to the recent explanatory/apologetic letter from VPI Craig Justice regarding the rationale for eliminating the three faculty hires, there are two distinct issues, said Kathy:

  • The number of positions.
  • Which positions?

     Kathy reminded us that, “at the end of the day,” the senate and other groups offer only recommendations to the President. The final decisions are made by the President.
     The big picture here, according to Kathy, is essentially this: administration seems to have made the decision to hire only 6 faculty (not the nine that had been sanctioned and pursued) back in mid-December, but, oddly, they kept that particular light under a bushel: other groups at the college were not informed about the decision as per “collegiate consultation” or “shared governance.” According to Kathy, when asked why they failed to communicate their decision for three long months, they commenced pointing fingers, assuming, evidently, that somebody else would convey the info to whom it may have concerned.
     I.e., SNAFU@ivc.
Director, Opacity & Rubbish
     Last year, the process was a model of transparency and such, and so we all expected things to proceed apace this year. But that’s not what happened.
     President Glenn Roquemore and VPI Craig Justice have essentially apologized (said Kathy). Academic Senate leadership has pressed hard for assurances that procedures will be put into place (or whatever) to make sure this communication breakdown does not happen again.
     The college planning committees were never clued in about the decision. And so, when Craig’s memo (announcing the decision) was promulgated last week, it came as a “shock” to many. Many were “dismayed.”
     We were told that, yesterday, the fit hit the shan at the Budget meeting: senate leadership took Davit K (Beancounter in chief) and Glenn (Craig was absent) to task for these failings.
     The other issue, of course, is the faculty positions that made it to the list, especially the Automation, Electronics, Electrical and Robotics position (and, secondarily, the Laser position)—and the ones that did not. You’ll recall that the Robot Hire was the choice of the deans (Tier 3), who appear to have modified the position considerably over the last few months (including its school location). It morphs.
     At one point, Kathy projected upon the wall the relevant section of the Board Policy re Tier 3 (deans’ choice) positions, and it clearly states that administrators are obliged to consult with relevant faculty in identifying and defining needed hires. It’s clear that that did not occur.

     The always genteel Ms. W, math instructor, was on hand to explain, in her subtle fashion, the degree to which faculty in her area were left out of the loop in the development and definition of this position (which is now located in Math). Later, whilst discussing the Laser hire (I think), physics guy M told a similar tale, repeatedly using the word “shabby” to describe how all parties, especially faculty, have been treated in the pursuit of this position. Ms. W made clear that the college is utterly unprepared to provide teaching/students/program for this hire. Later in the meeting, the relevant administrator made similar points. Meanwhile, very strong cases can be made for new Math hires and other hires that are no longer on the list.
BeanCalc Czar
     The discussion was utterly one-sided and pretty overwhelming.
     It looks like Glenn’s “vision” for ATEP (Lasers, robots, cold fusion, and perpetual motion machines) is more important to him than providing the kind of instructors we actually need. That seemed to be the tacit theme of the discussion, if aural and body language are any indication.
     In the course of the discussion, Kathy and VP Bob explained that they have always sought to make the hiring process (and other processes) more open and participatory. Toward that end, as members of the budget/planning committees, they were regularly given budget updates and projections, which made the relevant data clear whilst collegiate deliberations progressed. Unfortunately, this time around, the updates and projections, though repeatedly requested, did not materialize, and Kathy/Bob were caught by surprise when, all of a sudden, the decision to cease the three hires, seemingly based on FON (explained below) data, came to light. (Kathy, or at least Bob, apologized for not being “suspicious” enough.)
     As it turns out, the Presidential Exec Cabinet (PEC)—the cozy group of P and VPs—made the decision to pull the plug back in December and then didn’t tell anybody about it. Ordinarily, the discussion and decision would have occurred on the Budget Committee(s), but not this time (said the Bobster). Prior practice with regard to the location and nature of these discussions was abandoned in favor of this shell gamery.
     Kathy wryly noted that administration’s less-than-popular “create a new dean” initiative went through the usual process without any administrators mentioning the faculty hire cancellations. Golly. What are we to make of that?
Minister of Machinations
     You’ll recall that the FON (Faculty Obligation Number) was cited by Craig as a major factor in the decision. Kathy (and Dan of SC) explained that FON is not a target number. It is a floor, a minimum (of faculty hires; as you know, the low full-time/part-time ratio has been a scandal in the Cal CC system for decades). You don’t want to get too close to that “danger” line, ‘cause if things go south you’ll end up paying a serious fine. Evidently, there’s a district guy (Peter Lorre, I think) who calculates the FON for the district and the colleges, and it is pretty mysterious how he does that calculation and what sort of data he uses. Clearly, transparency issues are afoot.
     Another issue here concerns the much-discussed factoid that IVC is growing (actually, at present, it is flat, but projections are positive) and Saddleback College is shrinking into an unpleasant old turnip. How does that enter into the determination of how many faculty should be hired at SC and IVC?
     Kathy acknowledged that it is clear that the college opted to drop these hires as a money-saving move. Administration’s explanatory/defensive verbiage offers red herrings about FON and whatnot, but this is about money, plain and simple.
     Kathy noted that, when an administration has conducted itself in a manner generating suspicion, they are well advised to proceed all “squeaky-clean.” Well, they’re not proceeding squeaky-clean nohow. They should be honest and upfront about why this happened, how it happened. Why can’t they do that? (Well, they never do.)
     Steve made a motion: to request that the algorithm and data used to make the calculation (by the district guy, Bela Lugosi) be made public. That was approved unanimously.
     Steve’s second motion was that we recommend that the college move forward with the full list of 9 faculty. That was approved 22-1-2.
Director, Mellifluent Malarkey
     Of course, Glenn has no obligation to heed our recommendations. Undoubtedly he will opt not to.
     In his report, VP Bob explained that “we were completely blindsided” by last week’s announcement that the three faculty hires would cease. We had fallen into the trap, he said, of expecting budget reports, but these never seemed to materialize, and then this announcement dropped like a bomb. (Bob was apologetic.) Bob co-chairs two of the budget committees, and yet he had heard nothing about the Dec. 15 decision by the Presidential Gang. (Recall that we are going forward with a new dean position, and that will be pricey.)
     Trust has been a casualty of this episode, announced Kathy.
     Steve suggested that we ask Glenn to come to the senate and explain why the December decision was not communicated until March. That passed, 25-0-0.
     (At one point I noted that the confusion, incompetence, and failure of transparency that is manifest in this episode is an established pattern among Rocky and his friends.
     (We need to think about a “vote of no confidence,” I said.)
     Have a nice Spring break!


Anonymous said...

Who knows something about a current lawsuit regarding a previous egregious failure to abide by board policy in hiring? Do tell. Are there similar grounds to pursue here? If so, let's go.

Anonymous said...

HR finally took down the two IVC job positions still up (they were up all week) - please note Saddleback continues to hire and hire big. We get no support and no respect - that's why they didn't tell us back in December. Once they got what they wanted, we got the shaft again. Glenn gets his robot and lasers positions - and watch who sits of those committees and who gets hired!

Anonymous said...

Glenn has a history of hiring pals and girlfriends

Anonymous said...

The Trustees are visiting IVC on Wednesday April 22 from 3-4:30 in The Cafe for their second annual listening session. I suggest we give them something to listen to. Of course we should be communicating with them and the Chancellor right now as well. All the points people have been making - failure to observe process, deliberate withholding of information and critical decisions, the history of nepotism, one college president's single-minded narrow agenda that he pursues at the expense of the college he purports to serve - and continued and shameful marginalizing of the Learning disabilities specialist - all this needs to be said, out loud and over and over. He tells them he has OUR support. We need to show that he does not.

Anonymous said...

Re: Glenn's hires. He can't get those positions if the senate refuses to approve faculty to serve in it.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here. This has been going on forever. We have all these committees to make it look like we have shared governance, but it is a sham. The VPI and Prez decide what's going to happen and then they make it happen. Period.

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