Faculty Agreement Ratified by Governing Board

Colleagues,

Great news! The Governing Board ratified the latest draft of the Faculty Agreement at their last board meeting on Tuesday, June 28th. When we receive the final version of the agreement, you will be able to access it via our website.  For highlights of changes to the Faculty Agreement, please see this presentation.

Thank you to the members of the Faculty Administration Collaboration Team (FACT), particularly our faculty representatives Stacy Smith, Ramona Goth, and Jose Aguinaga, for their diligence and perseverance. Thank you, too, to the faculty who provided input and support to make the latest draft possible.

Look for news about the next iteration of the FACT structure, membership, and process in the next few weeks.

Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

Best,
Camille

Governing Board Address 06/28/22

Good evening President Sullivan, Governing Board members, Chancellor Gonzales, CEC members, colleagues and guests.

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself.  My name is Camille Newton, and I have the privilege and responsibility of representing the faculty of the Maricopa County Community Colleges as Faculty Executive Council President for the coming year.  

I began my work in Maricopa in 2012 as residential faculty in English at South Mountain Community College.  Over the next 6 years I served as an Assessment Coordinator, an HLC Quality Initiative Co-Chair, and as Faculty Senate President.  In 2018 I became one of the Guided Pathway Mapping Team Leads, supporting faculty as they created clear and coherent curriculum maps that lead students directly to their educational goals.  For the past two years, I have served as a faculty lead in the District Center for Curriculum and Transfer Articulation, supporting the work of Curriculum Redesign and the refinement of business processes that institutionalize our Guided Pathways efforts. 

I share this history partly as an introduction, but also because I believe my work in faculty and District leadership has prepared me for the work I will do this year.  These experiences showed me the power of collaborative, cooperative approaches when working toward common goals.  In this spirit of shared governance, I look forward to the coming year of collaborating with colleagues, administration, and the Governing Board to support students, faculty, staff, and the Maricopa Community Colleges.  

But tonight is not only about an introduction; it is an opportunity to celebrate recent successful conclusions. 

First, faculty want to recognize Rio Salado President Kate Smith for the successful completion of her doctorate.  Congratulations, Dr. Smith!

Second, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the work of Ana Chandler, who on July 1st will finish her role as the co-president of Employee Representation. It’s always a challenge to start something from scratch, and for the last two years Ana and Shannon Monge worked tirelessly to build the structure, processes, and practices necessary to create an integrated system for staff representation at MCCCD.  Along the way they have consistently collaborated with their faculty and administrative colleagues, by both including us in their efforts and also by supporting ours. In cooperation with their Employee Representation colleagues, they have restored the important voice of the staff, invigorating the shared governance that makes Maricopa successful. I have admired Ana’s work as I’ve been transitioning into my new role; I appreciate her cooperative approach to solving problems, her courage when challenging assumptions and sharing difficult perspectives, and her passionate, unwavering commitment to student support and success. Thank you, Ana, for providing an example of successful leadership and thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do for Maricopa.  

I appreciate the opportunity to share some time with you all tonight.  Thank you, and good evening.

Camille

FEC Update: 5.24 Governing Board Meeting

Happy Summer, colleagues!  Congratulations on your excellent work in another challenging year.

The Governing Board meeting this week (May 24) was another significant milestone for faculty:

  • At the meeting the Governing Board approved a 4.13% pay increase for employees for the second year in a row as part of the District’s Multi-Year Strategic Compensation Plan. (Please see the forwarded email below from Chancellor Gonzales.)
  • Additionally at the meeting, there was a first read of changes to the Faculty Agreement and an overview of the next steps for reconstituting the Faculty Administration Collaboration Team (FACT). The Governing Board meeting recording with that presentation should be posted soon.

The Faculty Association helped to make these Governing Board events possible: As last year’s FA President Sasha Radisich notes, “In the 2018 and 2020 elections, our Faculty Association engaged in high-effort (and high-expense) pushes to elect pro-education, pro-student, and pro-employee members to the Governing Board. We gained significant ground in those elections. A new Board brought a new attitude, and with it came victories for us all.”

We are in another Governing Board election cycle, and your support of the Faculty Association–and thus the Governing Board candidates who support education in general and the Maricopa Community Colleges specifically–allows the progress seen at the May 24 Governing Board to continue.

Thank you to those who were instrumental in the development of the compensation plan and the revision of the FACT structure:  Chancellor Gonzales, who established the Advisory Budget Council and presented the option for a new FACT structure to the Governing Board; the Maricopa HR department, including Faculty Administrator Frank Wilson, who developed and recommended the compensation plan to the Board; and Faculty Association leadership, who pursued the necessary steps to ensure the restoration of the role of faculty in District shared governance.

Thank you for your continued support.  Let’s keep the progress going!

Best,
Camille Newton
Faculty Executive Council President

Governing Board Address 04/26/22

Good evening, everyone.

My year as President of the Faculty Association flew by quickly, and tonight I give my last address to you. As I reflect on it all, my thoughts keep drifting to the Indian parable of the six blind men and the elephant. Encountering an elephant for the first time ever, the men touch the creature to try to learn what it is. The one who feels its side says that an elephant is like a wall; the one who feels its tusk counters – no, it is actually like a spear; the one who feels its tail argues that it is like a rope; and so forth. After the elephant leaves, they have a lengthy and heated argument about the issue, with each man certain that he alone knows the truth. I don’t remember the story’s exact ending, but I believe it involved filing a Resolution of Controversy, followed by expensive third-party mediation.

Although thousands of years have passed since its writing, this ancient story’s message still remains relevant today: since we each only see a small piece of our big and complicated world, we shouldn’t expect that our limited experience paints the complete picture. To fully understand any situation, we need to get input from all the different vantage points. Additionally, disagreements don’t always mean that someone is right and someone else is wrong; often, it means that both viewpoints are simply incomplete.

In the world of higher education, this concept is neatly summarized in the phrase “shared governance.” While the common interpretation of shared governance revolves around decision-making authority, the core idea really comes back to the six blind men and the elephant: no one person has enough information to fully understand any situation, but we can’t make wise choices without that understanding. Shared governance says that we should gather input from as many different angles as possible to build a complete picture of the situation before we decide how to proceed.

Luckily for Maricopa, Chancellor Steven Gonzales sees shared governance not as a box to check but as a philosophy to embrace. He has the humility to admit that he doesn’t know everything (sorry for letting the cat out of the bag, Chancellor), and he has the wisdom to get the vital missing information from others before making his decisions. Better still, he’s proselytizing about shared governance throughout the District, and as the philosophy spreads it is causing our decisions to improve.

As just one example, consider Maricopa’s budget process. We used to choose budgets with a level of secrecy that fell somewhere between “masonic rituals” and “nuclear launch codes.” I’ve literally heard college presidents tell me that they would learn their own college’s financial allocation for the next year while listening to the Governing Board budget presentation. Chancellor Gonzales changed all that. Last year he created the Advisory Budget Council to bring a collaborative approach to our District’s budgeting process. By construction, this Council brings together administrators from both the District office and the individual colleges, as well as faculty and staff, to help craft the District’s budget. By increasing the diversity of viewpoints our budget process immediately began to benefit: new perspectives raised new questions, which led to new data analyses, which led to new revelations, which took the budget in new directions. The budget proposal you are currently considering changed dramatically as a result of this shared governance, with our deeper understanding of underlying issues molding the shape of the budget to better fit the actual needs of our District. We were able to present you with a wiser budget because we are wiser when we work together.

This year I’ve been overjoyed to see our District’s pool of wisdom swell as our decision-makers poured in the input from many talented and hard-working faculty members. I’ve been delighted to see those decision-makers also splash in the perspectives of our phenomenal staff (under the wildly talented leadership of Shannon Monge and Ana Chandler). I’ve even had the honor of adding my own drop of wisdom to the District’s ample pool. I can’t wait to see how this dramatic expansion of our perspective transforms our decision-making process in the future, but I plan to be around to see it bear fruit.

As I said earlier, this is my last Governing Board address as Faculty Association President, but I am not saying “goodbye.” I’ll be around – one more drop in the pool of our collective wisdom, one more voice in our shared governance chorus. So, rather than saying, “goodbye,” let me instead offer up a traditional American farewell between people who plan to reunite soon:

“Happy trails to you, until we meet again….”

Thank you – now, and always – for your time.

Sasha

3/22 GB Resolution Regarding FACT

Last week, residential faculty began to express nervousness after the Governing Board unanimously approved an item through their consent agenda whose operative portion reads as follows:

The Chancellor is charged to create and implement a new structure that overcomes the current challenges and provides both Residential and Adjunct Faculty individual and appropriate voice and representation in policy recommendations, as required by shared governance and accreditation criteria, by no later than June 30, 2022. Upon implementation of the new structure, the currently existing FACT structure will be dissolved. Further, the Chancellor is charged with recommending to the Board amendments to the Faculty Agreement that align with the new structure no later than December 1, 2022. For no period of time should a Faculty Agreement cease to be in effect.

This resolution could make anyone with institutional memory justifiably anxious, given that it sounds like a return to the Bad Old Days when a (drastically different) Governing Board unilaterally retired our Residential Faculty Policy manual (“the RFP”) and simultaneously abolished Meet & Confer. However, in reality this resolution represents the height of shared governance: it actually grew from a November request by the Faculty Executive Council (FEC) to decouple the residential and adjunct faculty workplace negotiations in order to accelerate both processes.

First, some recent history. FACT began in early 2019 in the wake of a Governing Board decision to end our existing policy negotiation process (“Meet & Confer”) and begin a new and untested replacement: the Faculty Administration Collaboration Team, or FACT. For its first task, FACT needed to quickly craft a new combined workplace contract for both residential and adjunct faculty: the Faculty Agreement (FA). To meet their tight timeline, FACT borrowed heavily from existing policies – primarily the now-expired Residential Faculty Policy manual (itself the result of four decades of accomplishments by the old Meet & Confer process). The Team did remarkable work, producing a first draft for a new policy contract in a relatively short period of time. However, given their time constraints, the Team deferred all points of disagreement for future negotiations, focusing exclusively on the completion of this flawed-but-functional document.

In February of 2021 the Governing Board approved the freshly minted FA, and FACT transitioned from the completed goal of policy compilation to their new goal of policy negotiation. Here, the process began to fail as its fatal flaw became increasingly clear. Undeniably, residential faculty and adjunct faculty perform a similar duty in the classroom. However, beneath that similarity lies a profound workplace asymmetry: full-time, tenure-eligible employees have more rights, more obligations, and a more complex relationship with their employer than part-time, at-will workers. Suddenly, FACT began to ask adjunct faculty to weigh in on nuanced issues of residential employment that lie outside of both their experiences and interests, which significantly slowed down the negotiation process. Additionally, since both groups wanted to focus on issues relevant to their own circumstances, the FACT meetings effectively became two simultaneous and overlapping conversations. The Team found it impossible to give either set of issues sufficient focus and attention to make suitable progress, slowing negotiations even further.

By November, FEC realized that the design flaws in FACT sabotaged its ability to negotiate changes to workplace policy in a quick and efficient manner. As a result, faculty leadership reached out to Chancellor Gonzales with wisdom that dated back to the Industrial Revolution: efficiency requires specialization. The faculty leaders urged the Chancellor to split FACT into a dedicated process exclusively focused on resolving residential faculty workplace issues and a separate, dedicated process exclusively focused on resolving adjunct faculty issues. Ultimately, specialized processes will benefit both groups by bringing clarity and focus to the team’s missions. Last Tuesday’s Governing Board resolution granted FEC’s request. The Chancellor is now collaborating with both residential and adjunct faculty to determine the shape of our replacement for FACT.

To summarize: at FEC’s request, Maricopa is replacing a unilaterally imposed process that was created without any faculty input. The Chancellor is relying on faculty feedback to shape the new process. This entire situation reflects our District’s new focus on shared governance and workplace democracy.

In short, something good just happened in Maricopa.
Sasha Radisich, Faculty Association President