Governing Board Address 4/9/23

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

It is incredible the difference that 5 years can make. 

5 years ago on February 27, 2018. I was the Faculty Senate President at South Mountain Community College.  I sat that night with hundreds of colleagues in one of the District satellite viewing spaces necessary on the night of the Governing Board meeting because there were too many attendees to be housed in the Governing Board room.  On what Dr. Thor called a “dark day in Maricopa history,” a majority of Governing Board members voted to tear up the Residential Faculty Agreement, abolish the collaborative administration and faculty policy team known as Meet and Confer, and finish the goal they’d begun when they ended staff representation:  They gutted shared governance in the Maricopa County Community Colleges. 

Five years later, complete with two years of COVID smack dab in the middle, I stand here as the Faculty Association President and argue that we are in the midst of a renaissance of shared governance.  Due to the dedicated work of the Chancellor, our Governing Board, and the leadership of faculty, staff, and administration, together this year we have solidified the foundation of academic freedom, freedom of speech, and shared governance in our District.  The results are remarkable:

  • We have an active and thriving Committee on Academic Freedom, with increased requests for support and clarification about academic freedom coming from our Maricopa community.
  • We have a dedicated team of leaders exploring creation of a structure for Shared Governance in Maricopa, testament to our commitment to both its ideals and application. 
  • We developed a new Strategic Plan that involved stakeholders from across the District from start to finish, including retreats that brought together Maricopa faculty, staff, and administrators with Governing Board and community members to envision Maricopa’s future and priorities.
  • The Compensation Advisory Committee and Advisory Budget Committees have worked collaboratively to propose compensation plans for faculty, staff, and adjuncts that support the Governing Board’s commitment to equity and fiscal responsibility.
  • We have three effective teams established for policy development that have resulted in policy documents for residential faculty, staff, and adjuncts.  In true Maricopa acronym love, those teams are the RFACT, SPCT, and AFHCT.
  • This year saw the work to finalize the Performance Success evaluation model for staff, with implementation plans in place to begin pilots in Fall 23 and launch in Fall 24.  This has been a heavy lift and a team effort; I was proud to be part of this incredible work for our staff colleagues.

These are only the *large* endeavors we have completed or have moved into action just this past year.  There are numerous other task forces and initiatives recently launched or in the wings. It is gratifying to see the difference it makes to bring stakeholders together early in the decision making processes that help propel us forward to support our students and communities.  The work is not always easy or fast, and shared governance is a fragile construct  that requires constant vigilance and effort, but the progress is clearly worth the commitment.

In this, my last Board address as Faculty Executive Council President, I wish to take a moment to thank those who have made it possible for me to contribute in this renaissance year to the work of shared governance in Maricopa.  

First, thank you to my colleagues on CEC. Those early morning phone calls, late emails, and last minute meetings are testament to our willingness to collaborate, explore options, and give grace to each other as we address the inevitable challenges and opportunities we face in our complex system.  I have appreciated your generosity and look forward to our continued work. 

Thank you and recognition to my Faculty Association Officers, without whom I would not still be #vertical. Past President John Schampel has been on FEC since 2013, and I have appreciated his passion for shared governance, his experience with the history of Maricopa and faculty leadership, and his willingness to shoot straight with me whenever I ask..  President Elect Lisa Marsio already has an established track record of commitment to faculty and Maricopa in her previous leadership positions, and I look forward to supporting her and the intelligence, integrity, and kindness that she will bring to this role.  I have turned to Sasha as a touchstone in all things, to Megan for her generosity of spirit and rhetorical savvy, to Liz for her ability to provide clarity and focus, to Kory for quiet strength and determination, and to Barry and Jim for their institutional knowledge and experience.  These officers have provided the brains and the hands behind the scenes that make this job possible. This role is and will always be a team effort, and I was lucky and grateful to have them at my back. 

Thank you to the members of the Faculty Executive Council, especially the college Faculty Senate Presidents, who ensure their college colleagues are informed and are participating in shared governance locally and at the District.  We all benefit from their efforts on behalf of their colleges, and I have benefited from their perspectives, their work, and their collegiality.

Finally, thank you to the strong and dedicated faculty of the Maricopa Community Colleges.  When shared governance and freedom of expression were endangered in Maricopa, they rallied and worked and leveraged national higher education institutions and our legal system to restore what had been lost.  When faced with an unprecedented global pandemic, they pivoted and learned and sacrificed– in the midst of their own personal struggles– to support their students, colleagues, and colleges and to ensure access to the promise and power of higher education.  And in this new era of collaboration and partnership, they have willingly stepped up when asked to serve on the councils, committees, task forces, and teams that shared governance requires, all while continuing to teach and learn and provide excellence in education.  It has been my privilege and honor to represent and to serve them.  

These monthly addresses have admittedly been the most nerve-wracking part of my role as Faculty Association President, but I have been grateful for the opportunity to share the good work of faculty with you.  As always, thank you for the time and your attention.  Good evening.