Governing Board Address 6/27/23

Madame la Presidente, membres du conseil d’administration, Chancellor, CEC colleagues, and guests. “Jambo”

Madame la Presidente, I know you are fond of songs as themes for presentations, so I chose “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts as I remember it fondly from my childhood.  A more appropriate choice, however, might have been Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for Summer.”   

This song in particular brings images to mind of classroom doors flung open, masses of excited students pouring out, and trailing behind, an exhausted faculty body. Faculty who many believe will take the next few weeks off, retiring perhaps to a villa in the South of France to wander among the lavender fields.  While this may be true for some, and I express no hate (but perhaps a tad bit of envy), I’d like to tell you about the work of the many Maricopa faculty who will spend their summertime engaged with teaching and learning. 

Maricopa Community Colleges is offering  4770 summer classes across the 10 colleges.  Would it surprise you to know that 58% of those classes are taught by our residential faculty?  Faculty who have chosen to remain connected to the classroom during the summer months.

Others are remaining connected to the classroom but taking those classrooms to international locations.  This summer, we have six international programs in both Europe and Mexico.  For example, 35 students are currently in Ireland with Dr. Barry Vaughn of Mesa Community College where they will spend a month embedded in the local culture.  Not only do they immerse themselves in the study of Irish religion from Neolithic to Medieval times, they learn the art of Irish storytelling and regale the locals with their final projects at the neighborhood pub.  Many students have been so impacted by their experiences here that they choose to return for further studies. Now spending a month in Europe may sound like a vacation, but I can assure you that it is very hard work wrangling a group of college students. I speak from experience as one of those former students, who many years ago, along with some co-conspirators, almost got our group kicked out of a hotel in Rome for using bed linens as togas.  Who knew that wasn’t appropriate?!? But the opportunity for students to experience different cultures, values, and perspectives firsthand challenges their preconceived notions and broadens their worldview.  It fosters empathy, tolerance, and an appreciation for diversity, making them a more open-minded individual.

And that, mes amis, is incredibly valuable in this increasingly divisive world we live in.  

Other faculty are engaging in the field of pedagogy over the summer. At Scottsdale Community College, 12 faculty are collaborating during a Summer Service Learning Institute to develop Field of Interest specific experiences.  One, led by the director of the Hospitality Program, is working on putting together a Human Trafficking Awareness Week at SCC. Arizona is a major hub for human trafficking, and victims are often trafficked through hotels. While the project is very early in its development, the core idea is that her hospitality students will create an advocacy campaign, host speakers, and offer some training on what to look for. The director is involving experts at the city and state level, as well as leveraging her numerous contacts in the hospitality industry. 

The District-wide Maricopa Summer Institute brings teams of faculty, often cross-college, together to develop and deploy projects in the classroom.  This past May the Institute highlighted the work of 10 teams.  One that was particularly intriguing was an attempt to encourage student buy-in for math. Math is often considered a necessary evil to obtain a certificate or degree but its applicability beyond that is often questioned. To address this, students are asked to interview professionals in their specific field of study and a panel of professionals was filmed talking about what math looks like in future career choices. Other Summer Institute groups are looking at the ethical use of generative AI in both English and Psychology classrooms.   

These highlights are not meant to diminish those residential faculty who choose to spend their summers disconnecting but rather to celebrate those who choose to remain connected with teaching and learning.

Irrespective of where or how the faculty spend their summers I can assure you they will return on August 11, refreshed, reinvigorated and renewed of purpose. 

I will close with a haiku on summer teaching

Golden rays embrace
Knowledge blooms with each warm day
Summer’s lessons shared.