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.
|Director, Opacity & Rubbish|
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.
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|
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.
|Director, Mellifluent Malarkey|
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!