Governing Board Address 09/22/20

President Sullivan, Secretary Hendrix, members of the Board, Chancellor, members of CEC, colleagues, and guests,

Thank you for the opportunity to address you this evening on behalf of the Faculty Executive Council and the faculty at large.

As you know, troubling events relating to the search for a new Chancellor have been revealed over the past several weeks. These events are of deep concern to the faculty and the future of this institution.

Tonight is my first address since this Board convened on September 10 to take action on the corrupted Chancellor Search. At that meeting, the Board resolved on a 4-to-1 vote to admonish Board member Kathleen Winn for what an external investigation concluded were her “egregious” actions on that committee. The resolution also requested she resign from the Board.

Given that the historic nature of the Board Resolution is commensurate with the historic nature of the documented wrongdoing, I would strongly recommend that every member of the MCCCD community read the investigative report, in full.

Among its findings, I wish to highlight one in particular. The report documents an email communication between Ms. Winn and a community member unaffiliated with the search. In this email, which violated the confidentiality agreement required of all committee members, Ms. Winn both communicated about a candidate for the position and endorsed that candidate, thus destroying the neutrality the process demands. Furthermore, when questioned by the investigator about the communication, Ms. Winn flatly denied everything, despite having sent an email that irrefutably documents she had contacted the community member and says “and I support this candidate.”

This remarkable denial of incontrovertible evidence, in addition to testimony by other interviewees consistent with that email, in part led the investigator to conclude Ms. Winn’s claims to the contrary were “not credible.”

One might think that exposing Ms. Winn’s conduct would lead her to contrition, but her reaction to Mr. Heffner distributing the public investigative report was to send him a threatening text message instead. This threat led Mr. Heffner to file a whistleblower complaint.

We appreciate the Board’s bold actions in publicly addressing Ms. Winn’s misconduct that resulted in an aborted search process. The Board’s censure and request for her resignation demonstrates its commitment to integrity and accountability. But that resolution did not address her threat against a faculty member on that committee, and the inapplicability of the current whistleblower policy makes clear that something must be done, in the name of integrity and accountability, to demonstrate that such board behavior is intolerable.

So, my questions to you, Members of the Board, are these: How can this institution properly function when a Board member can deny basic facts, threaten employees, and refuse to take responsibility for her actions? How can a Board member’s “egregious” misconduct and “not credible” assertions do anything but detract from our mission of student success and our future candidate search? If the whistleblower policy cannot protect employees from Board members’ ominous threats that curtail legitimate conduct and silence dissent, what is to be done?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Patrice Nango
Faculty Association President

News Articles & Resources Related to Misconduct During the Chancellor Search

Updated September 15, 2020.

Below are the news articles related to the cancellation of the chancellor search:

Here are other related resources:

Follow us on Facebook to get updated as articles and further resources come out.

Egregious misconduct results in cancellation of Chancellor’s search

Faculty Colleagues,

As many of you know, due to concerns about the process, the Governing Board suspended the search for a new chancellor in March and initiated an independent investigation. On Tuesday, August 25th, based on the results of that investigation, the Governing Board voted unanimously to end the search, disband the committee, and terminate their contract with the search firm.

The Faculty Association requested a copy of the report through a public records request and has shared it with the search committee, and now with you. It is a profoundly disturbing document. The independent investigator provides a detailed accounting, and concludes, in part:

The Search Process was significantly tainted and irreparably damaged by the actions of the Vice Chair of the Search Committee and Board member, Kathleen Winn.

I strongly encourage you to read this document carefully and to draw your own conclusions. The full report is posted on the Faculty Association’s website: MCCCD Investigation Report.

I commend the Governing Board for its decision to terminate an obviously corrupted process but lament this debacle for the disrespect shown to the candidates who applied, the disregard for process and any sense of fair play, and the abject waste of scarce funds as well as the valuable time of the committee members.

How did this happen? Our Board is composed of publicly elected officials, and this unfortunate incident is yet another clear reminder of how important it is that the entire MCCCD community actively participate in the election of qualified, education-minded citizens to serve on the Governing Board.

We don’t yet know what next steps will be taken to address this serious matter, but the Faculty Association is committed to participating in the process and to keeping you informed.

Patrice Nango
Faculty Association President

MCCFA Statement of Support

Colleagues,

Recently, our nation has witnessed the pain and outrage over the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. The Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association stands in solidarity with the Black/African-American community against systemic racism and inequality. Part of our role as educators is to prepare students to participate in civil discourse and democracy. As such, we firmly support every citizen’s First Amendment right to free speech and their human right to live without fear of racial persecution.

As the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) stated, we also acknowledge that institutions of higher education are not exempt from institutional racism and have been a part of the problem. However, our colleges can make significant contributions to real, effective solutions.

We ask ourselves, our faculty and staff colleagues, and our community members to self-reflect and consider how our collective skills, knowledge, and leadership can help this nation move forward with more equitable and unprejudiced systems. The Maricopa Community Colleges should be places that encourage students, employees, and community members to express, with confidence, all that makes them unique in order to grow and thrive.

In Solidarity,

Patrice Nango
President,
Maricopa Community Colleges Faculty Association

Important Message RE: COVID-19

With the news that MCCCD will be extending spring break so that we can take the next week to plan for how to continue to teach our students in these challenging circumstances, we know that we all have many questions. Not all of those questions have answers right now, especially because conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are changing rapidly.

However, we are committed to continuing to communicate with you throughout this situation, to share what we know, and to support each other. This is the first of what will be regular updates (at least weekly, and more often if appropriate).

You Know What’s Best for Your Classes and Students.

Part of the reason that there aren’t concrete answers right now for how we will continue to teach on Monday the 23rd is because each faculty member is best situated to know what would work in their particular class, with their students, given where they are in the material and what they had planned for the remainder of the semester.

This is where our expertise as faculty comes in – we can use all the skills we bring to the classroom every day and think creatively about how to keep our students moving forward with their education. Having something productive and forward-looking to focus on is especially important in times of crisis. What we can do to instill some normalcy and autonomy for our students will help them to weather this turbulent time.

There are Lots of Teaching Options and Support is Available to Help You Learn About Them.

Although moving to an entirely Canvas-based course, with recorded lectures and online assignments, is the first thing many people think about when they think about alternative formats, it isn’t the only option out there. Faculty all over the country are facing these same challenges and coming up with many different ways to keep students moving forward.

For example, consider whether there are homework-type assignments students could focus on for the next two weeks, such as research papers or portfolio projects. During that time, you can continue to prepare materials for more interactive online delivery and assess how best to deliver the experience and training you had planned to cover in a face-to-face format.

You’re going to see a lot of information being shared about how to quickly start an online class and software alternatives to help. The Faculty Association will be posting useful resources on a new page which includes a Google Form where faculty can share ideas, resources, and questions. All of our Centers for Teaching and Learning are also available to help.

We Are in this Together.

We will continue to share information as we receive it. The Chancellor’s Executive Council (CEC) will be meeting on Monday, March 16 to talk about how we can collaborate as a system and answer questions about available resources and plans. The Google Form also includes an option for your questions. We have been and continue to be in close contact with District administration so please continue to use the form with your ideas and questions and we will do our best to send regular updates.  Tuesday’s department meetings should include information from the Monday meeting, as well as providing an opportunity to talk together about what might work best in our own disciplines.

In the meantime, please know that we are here for you, and that we are in this together. We believe in your abilities as teachers and professionals and we know your commitment to and caring for your students and your colleagues.

Stay connected and stay informed. Do your best to determine how you can or cannot adapt your classes to an alternative format. Ask for help and give it.  Be kind to each other and to our hardworking staff, who are anxious too.

Take care of yourselves and your families.